Skoll Foundation


Health Leads

Skoll Entrepreneur(s): Rebecca Onie
Award Year: 2011
Focus Area(s) Addressed: Healthcare Access and Treatment

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Onie founded Health Leads (formerly Project HEALTH) with Dr. Barry Zuckerman, Chair of Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, to expand the capacity of clinics to connect patients with food, housing and other resources that they need to be healthy and to build a pipeline of new leaders in the health care system. In the clinics where Health Leads operates, doctors can “prescribe” these critical resources just as they would medication. Patients take their prescriptions to the clinic waiting room, where Health Leads’ college volunteers connect them to the necessary resources.


  • Since 2010, Health Leads has served 23,000 patients. In 2013, they served more than 11,000 patients and their families.
  • In 2014, Health Leads’ corps of nearly 1,000 college student volunteers will work to connect 14,000 patients and their families with critical resources in 20 clinics across 6 cities.
  • 57 percent of Health Leads’ patients obtain at least one resource in 90 days (e.g., a family with an asthmatic child needs help getting heat in the winter)
  • In 2012, 90% of Health Leads graduates entered jobs or graduate study in the fields of health or poverty, with 88% of them reporting that Health Leads had a “high” or “very high” impact on their post-graduate plans.
  • Today, 4,000 Health Leads alumni work as healthcare providers, clinical researchers, community health workers, policy experts, pharmaceutical executives, and hospital administrators.  A May 2012 Health Leads extensive alumni survey also found that 76% of all Health Leads alumni are currently working in a health-related field, 41% of whom are primarily focused on underserved communities, and 40% of Health Leads alumni with medical degrees are working in primary care compared to 16% of graduating medical students who choose to enter primary care nationally.
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