Superpowers for Good
Superpowers for Good: Empowering Changemakers for Social Impact via Regulated Investment Crowdfunding from the SuperCrowd.
Your Zip Code Shouldn’t Determine Your Life Expectancy–But It Certainly Influences It - s11 ep07

Your Zip Code Shouldn’t Determine Your Life Expectancy–But It Certainly Influences It - s11 ep07

Social Determinants of Health Expert JohnMatthew Douglas Shares Insights About Closing Economic Gaps That Imperil Population Health

Devin: What do you see, JohnMatthew, as your superpower?

JohnMatthew: My superpower is a committed life.

“There are cities that are literally separated by a zip code; in one zip code, you may see a life expectancy of 80, 85 years of age and in another that butts right up against it, you may see a life expectancy of 65 years, 70 years of age,” explains JohnMatthew Douglas, a leading authority on social determinants of health in helping to define his discipline.

Health is measured in many ways, but life expectancy is a simple, easy-to-understand barometer for the impact of social circumstances on population and individual health. Wealth, in other words, is “absolutely” and “intrinsically” linked to life expectancy, he says.

One of the ways that individuals can play a role in reducing socioeconomic gaps that accelerate death and cause poor health is crowdfund investing–impact crowdfunding.

“Within the United States, we have an environment within which 80 percent of business owners are white–actually, a little bit more than that,” JohnMatthew says. “Somewhere in the neighborhood of 14.5, 15% Hispanic, approximately 2.4% or so are Black-owned businesses, and then the rest are dispersed among our diverse population.”

Noting that Black-owned businesses are perceived as having a higher rate of failure, he says, “This is occurring not because of a lack of will and desire and passion, great idea, great solution. But it's occurring because of a lack of access to the resources and tools and knowledge that an entrepreneur or small business would need to ensure their success.”

Crowdfund investing is a tool we can all use to address this lack of funding.

JohnMatthew consults with the Lonely Entrepreneur, “a SaaS platform that makes it easier for not only for Black and Brown communities of entrepreneurs but all entrepreneurs actually, to access the knowledge, tools and resources that they need to ensure their success.”

By investing in diverse founders, we are directly addressing the social determinants of health in a constructive way toward closing gaps in health outcomes.

JohnMatthew has developed his expertise and a successful career serving people because he has followed the counsel of Rev. Martin Luther King to have a “committed life,” making it his superpower.


AI Episode Summary

  • Devin Thorpe interviews John Matthew Douglas, co-founder of Nello Health and I Press Forward LLC, on the Superpowers for Good show.

  • John Matthew Douglas is an authority on social determinants of health and explains that social determinants of health are about the environment we live in and the barriers that may hinder our health and well-being.

  • There is a connection between social determinants of health and life expectancy, both globally and within specific communities, with wealthier areas having longer life expectancies than impoverished ones.

  • Nelo Health is using technology and the metaverse to address social determinants of health and improve patient outcomes and the overall healthcare system.

  • Upstream interventions focus on addressing neglected social determinants such as education and economic empowerment to position individuals for a better life and reduce reliance on downstream interventions.

  • Crowdfunding can help address health concerns by providing funding to diverse founders who are traditionally excluded from capital markets, leading to positive impacts on health outcomes and communities.

  • John Matthew's superpower is living a committed life, inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s call to redefine greatness as an individual's capacity to serve others.

  • He shares an example of his mentorship program, I Press Forward, which successfully impacted the lives of at-risk middle school students through the collaboration of professionals, including Rear Admiral Ken Braithwaite.

  • The program helped improve attendance, behavior, and academic performance of the students, emphasizing the importance of passion, vision, and believing in oneself.

  • John Matthew can be reached on LinkedIn and through Nelo Health and I Press Forward LLC's websites.

Refer a friend

How to Develop A Committed Life As a Superpower

MLK preached that one’s goal should be to maximize service to others. He called that a “committed life.” Having given his life in pursuit of that ideal, subsequent generations–including JohnMatthew–have been influenced by his commitment to walking his preaching.

In our conversation, JohnMatthew shared an anecdote to illustrate the power of leaning into a commitment to serving others. 

He recounts founding the mentorship program "I Press Forward" in 2012 at the behest of a public school teacher. Focused on rescuing middle school boys from troubled paths, the program was inspired by the challenges of crime, single-parent households, and poor attendance. The program's foundation rested on imparting soft skills, resilience, and leadership to students. 

A pivotal moment came when retired Rear Admiral Ken Braithwaite engaged with the program, sharing his experiences of meeting presidents and emphasizing that anyone, regardless of circumstances, can succeed in the United States.

Over four impactful years, the program enhanced students' attendance, behavior, and academic performance, transcending the confines of their neighborhoods.

By following JohnMatthew’s example, you can make a committed life a strength that defines you, too. In so doing, you can make it a superpower that enables you to do more good in the world.

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Guest-Provided Profile

JohnMatthew Douglas (he/him):

Biographical Information: John Matthew Douglas (JohnMatthew), with nearly two- and one-half decades of diverse healthcare industry experience, tireless work in social determinants of health (SDoH) offers perspective many may have not considered. Meaning social determinants of working life condition, community violence, entrepreneurship & economic empowerment, and a new definition of competitive market collaboration bent towards achieving the heavy lift of effectively addressing social determinants of health and sustainable community impact.

JohnMatthew understands that we are the sum of our parts - as a person and as a people. Disparities in access to, and availability of, resources are as important to our national health as disparities in our own bodies. JohnMatthew has elevated himself to a national and even global presence in the field of Social Determinants of Health and is founder of LinkedIn’s first in class “Social Determinants of Health & Education collaborative group.

More than theories and academics, JohnMatthew talks the talk and walks the walk, as demonstrated in his numerous community efforts. JohnMatthew’s beliefs and values are well-founded, and his desire to help others knows no bounds, which he has demonstrated time and again within his local community while supporting and collaborating with other national community leaders and organizations as well.

His notable accolades stem from his work with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), the iPressForward mentorship program which JohnMatthew founded, and more recently, The Lonely Entrepreneur, LLC (501c3). He received the Mission award from LLS, special Congressional Recognition from Congressman Chris Gibson, a New York State Senate Citation from Senator Neil Breslin, and additional citations from Assemblymen Tony Jordan and John McDonald. In addition, in 2020 JohnMatthew was awarded the Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield “Whole Health Hero Award” for his efforts in SDoH and health equity. He has also received a Stakeholder's (National Points of Light Affiliate) GOBY award for Community Mentorship.

A US Army veteran, JohnMatthew is a graduate of State University of New York and has proven himself a lifelong learner and agent of change. He is also the author and lead author on several noteworthy Social Determinants of Health publications and consults regularly. JohnMatthew has worked for several of the country's largest companies and organizations, notwithstanding recently consulting with Vanity Fair Magazine. His education and personal experiences have led him to pursue and promote upstream Social Determinants of Health. The social determinants of health were created by the WHO with the aim of identifying the main causes of global health crises.

Twitter Handle: @JohnMDouglas247


For the September SuperCrowdHour, I’m going to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from making dozens of crowdfunding investments and talking to hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors. You’ll learn not just how to make investments via crowdfunding but how to make money doing it.

Many impact crowdfunding investors focus on impact first. I admire the approach but note that a goal for maximizing impact is best accomplished by making money. It works two ways. A company that goes out of business has no impact after it dies. One that grows profitably can do unlimited amounts of good. Furthermore, if the investment delivers financial results to you, you can reinvest and do more good as an investor!

If you’re focused primarily on making money, you’ll find this session helpful, too. We’ll discuss maximizing financial returns. Don’t miss it!

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Superpowers for Good
Superpowers for Good: Empowering Changemakers for Social Impact via Regulated Investment Crowdfunding from the SuperCrowd.
We host changemakers who are using regulated investment crowdfunding for social impact--impact crowdfunding--as impact investors or social entrepreneurs, catalyzing change with leadership skills we call superpowers.