Health Access for All

Care for our Country

Photo of Jenny Chen
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Date Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

According to a 2016 survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 30% of Americans report problems paying medical bills. Among these individuals, 73% cut back on food, clothing, or basic household items. We hope to address the significant financial burden that families face from medical bills. Far too many individuals struggle to afford health care, including primary care check-ups, cancer treatments, and medications to treat illnesses.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our goal is to support people living in the Upper Valley who are struggling to pay their medical bills. Over the past few months, we have worked to develop relationships with leaders at local hospitals and free clinics. We hope to collaborate with them to find patients who need help – while taking care to follow privacy laws. We will start crowdfunding campaigns for patients on our website, and work through social media to help them raise the money they need. In addition, we are also planning on starting a venture to raise funds for our patients. Specifically, we plan to sell a good or service on a part-time basis, and donate all profits to our campaigns; this might involve tutoring local high school students or selling coffee on campus. We are currently in the process of testing out several venture plans and collecting market data, which will provide insight into how we could most successfully raise money. To summarize, we will raise money on our website and advertise campaigns through social media, while also supporting patients with funds from our venture.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

An employee at a local hospital would be working with a patient who was having a tough time paying for a medical service they had recently received. The employee would recommend that this patient get in touch with HAFA for help. We would meet with the patient, explain what we do, and ask if the patient would consent to work with us. If they agreed, we would ask the patient to send us billing documentation related to the service that they needed support to pay for. We would store this documentation as a confidential record. Once this was done, we would set up a crowdfunding campaign for the patient on our website. We would ask members of our friend and family networks to support the campaign via social media. The patient’s campaign would be supported through proceeds raised from social media fundraising, as well as profits from our venture.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

GoFundMe medical campaigns are very similar to our work. However, we believe that our platform would be especially helpful for individuals who don’t have many social connections, or whose friends and family members aren’t able to financially support them. Most GoFundMe campaign starters appear to rely primarily on their social networks to support them, a few do go “viral” and receive considerable support from others. In addition, GoFundMe does claim a percentage of donations to campaigns run on its site; we will channel 100% of online donations to our campaigns.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

This past year, we have mostly focused our attention on raising money for the Good Neighbor Health Clinic, a free health clinic in the Upper Valley. We wanted to concentrate on building our team and learning how to coordinate successful events before implementing a full-scale version of our model. We have organized four fundraising events so far: a raffle, a book sale, a hot cocoa & cookies sale, and a tank top sale for a concert festival on campus. In total, we have raised $1500, all of which was or will be donated to the Good Neighbor Health Clinic. We have also engaged with people on social media and increased community awareness about health care inequalities through our campus events. In the future, we will measure our impact primarily through the effectiveness of our fundraising.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

After every event, we reflect on the elements that were successful and areas for growth. These reflections inspired us to significantly change our model to increase our community impact. We realized that raising money through charitable events would be especially difficult on campus, given the large number of other student groups which do the same thing. As a result, we have been spending the past few months testing out venture-based models. Specifically, we wanted to identify a good or service that people on campus or in our local community truly wanted to buy, and to sell that on a regular basis. We also hope to expand our impact beyond the Upper Valley and help other schools start HAFA chapters.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

As members of the Dartmouth community, we are grateful to have a considerable number of resources available to us, especially in the areas of mentorship and funding. For example, staffers at the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network – a campus resource meant to support students interested in entrepreneurship - have provided us with feedback on our initiative. We would truly appreciate additional funding, which would be invaluable in helping us further our mission. Additional funding would allow us to keep our website running for the long-term, distribute pamphlets at local hospitals to raise awareness of our mission among patients, and set up our venture-based business model.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Sales
  • Donations less than $100

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

Because HAFA is a campus-based organization, we have a number of opportunities to involve young people as leaders. Next year, we hope to start the Health Equity Action Leader (HEAL) Fellowship, a mentoring program for high school students. These students would help us implement our venture, and – in the process – experience a valuable education in health justice, social entrepreneurship, and college life. In addition, we are part of Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), a network of social change projects spearheaded by young people and sponsored by the Clinton Foundation. We plan to attend CGI U’s annual conference in the fall. As members of this network, we have multiple opportunities, including the conference, to collaborate with service-minded young people and enhance our effectiveness. Finally, as we’ve noted above, we hope to someday expand HAFA and create chapters at other universities, which would help empower young leaders around the country.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • T-Mobile page or contact


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kyra

Jenny, I think this is a great idea. I like how it is campus-based, it really helps to focus the community. Have you been able to collect donations online or is it just in person? Keep it up!

Photo of Kim Solem

I really admire that you are tackling a huge issue for many Americans living in poverty and starting in your own backyard. I like your insights that you'll need to move toward a venture-based funding model for sustainability rather than just asking for donations. My favorite part of your idea is the Health Equity Action Leader (HEAL) Fellowship and engaging with high school students to help implement your venture while raising their awareness of health justice, social entrepreneurship and college life - well done!! Also great to hear you are connected to CGI U as a great place to get feedback on your idea and take it to the next level. You're off to a great start; looking forward to following your progress!

Photo of Brittany Corner

I'm am always glad to see people willing to help out each other

Photo of Old Friend

I love this!!! This really hits close to home because I have a friend with a heart condition who cannot get a check up(she has been having some troubles recently) because she cannot afford it! and my mom has a brain tumor that she was suppose to get a check up every year(a couple years back) to see if it would get worse and she could never go back because it costs too much!