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The Dignified Aging Project Takes Top Prize at LEAP’s June Virtual Hatching Event

Elder Care-Focused Startup Aims to Address Care Disparities Through Education and Evidence-Based Intervention

LANSING, Mich. (June 22, 2021) — Seven talented local entrepreneurs pitched at the Lansing Economic Area Partnership’s (LEAP) June 10 virtual Hatching event, the quarterly pitch competition’s second event of 2021.

June’s pitch lineup included an innovative take on business cards and networking, a picnic-focused event service, a community event and social media consulting startup, a downtown bakery and sweet shop, a business focused on supporting aspiring home plant owners and an adult-focused dance studio offering a variety of ways to “exercise on accident” through dance.

Along with a great lineup of business pitches, the event featured an expert judging panel, including Theresa Dubiel of Lake Trust Credit Union, Hannah Buzolits of Loomis Law, Mateo Marchan of the Michigan State University (MSU) Burgess Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Jenna Mignano of Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan and Collin Mays of Delta Township. The event also featured a musical halftime performance by local singer-songwriter and producer Melissa Carter during the judges’ deliberations.

The top prize went to current LEAP One and All participant Yolanda Pope’s The Dignified Aging Project, a startup that hopes to improve social determinants of racial and ethnic health inequities through community education and evidience-based interventions for the aging population.

Pope’s vision for The Dignified Aging Project was borne of her experience in the elder care industry. The United States’ 65+ population is expected to double in the next 50 years, and health disparities in underserved geriatric communities result in billions of dollars in excess healthcare expenditures. These disparities are often caused by systemic inequities and exacerbated by lack of adequate training and support for families and direct care workers, which leads to poor clinical outcomes.

The Dignified Aging Project addresses these problems by connecting health clinics and doctors offices, caregivers and families with the necessary resources to meet the needs of the elderly communities. These resources include a Dignified Care Guide, the Partners Assisting Seniors with Services (PASS) program and culturally competent training programs and community education.

Pope already has existing partnerships with Safe Haven Assisted Living, District 1 Regional Medical Response Coalition, Careline Health Group, Ingham County Health Department, By Dawn’s Early Light Home Care Services and Sparrow Health System. She is eager for the opportunity to continue to grow her company through her win at the Hatching.

“We plan for graduations, we plan for weddings, we plan to buy a house, we even plan for funerals. One of the things we don’t plan for is aging. This specifically hits hard in underserved communities,” Pope said during her pitch. “One of the biggest barriers to healthcare right now happens to be the lack of cultural competence in healthcare. Imagine what it would be if that barrier wasn’t there—that’s what our team will provide.

The Hatching is a business pitch competition produced by LEAP. This year’s virtual series provides one winning entrepreneur from each event with $2,000 in cash support and a connection to valuable business services. The event is generously sponsored by the MEDC, Loomis Law, Lake Trust Credit Union, MSU Federal Credit Union and MSU Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“We are thrilled to have had an especially competitive group of entrepreneurs for the June Hatching event, including five current or former participants in our One and All entrepreneurship initiative,” said Anum Mughal, LEAP’s manager of new ventures. “It really highlights the myriad ways entrepreneurs can find support in our regional ecosystem and through LEAP.”

People interested in participating and pitching at this event can learn more at www.thehatching.org.

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About LEAP

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is a coalition of area leaders partnering to build a stronger community for all — working every day to grow, retain and attract business to the Lansing region.

 

About The Hatching

The Hatching is a regularly occurring business pitch competition founded by LEAP, established as part of a community wide effort to support local entrepreneurs. Participants submit business and product ideas through the Hatching’s online portal. Selected ideas are pitched in front of a live audience and panel of judges.