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Shelley Blog Ready Challenge Winners
By Shelley Sylva
• Dec 3, 2019
Head of U.S. Corporate Citizenship

Shelley Sylva, TD's Head of Social Impact

Note: The following blog post was originally posted to LinkedIn

One of the worst days of my life happened when I was pregnant with my son, and the doctors diagnosed him in utero with a life-threatening kidney condition. While my husband and I were overwhelmed with so many emotions, one thing we did not worry about was access to excellent healthcare.

The doctors were able to treat and monitor him before he was born several weeks early. My son, who is now 11, is doing tremendously well. The only reason he is alive and thriving today is that I had early access to excellent healthcare. But I often think of how many people don't have that. It should not be a gift to only those who can afford it, but something to which every human being is entitled.

That's why I am so proud of TD's 2019 Ready Challenge grant program for 10 organizations in the U.S. and Canada. Recipients will receive a $775,000 (USD)* grant for programs aimed at improving access to early detection of disease and disease intervention.

This year's TD Ready Challenge will fund the pioneering and innovative work of the following four U.S.-based health organizations:

The TD Ready Challenge is a critical component of The Ready Commitment, an ambitious multi-year initiative aimed at opening doors for a more inclusive and sustainable tomorrow. To that end, we've targeted $1B (CDN) by 2030 across four areas where we believe we can affect the biggest change: Better Health, Financial Security, the Environment (Vibrant Planet) and Connected Communities.

How the TD Ready Challenge gives me hope

More than 375 organizations applied for the 2019 grants that sought to find innovative solutions to the most significant issues that prevent access to healthcare. Each one of the applicants had a unique solution. It was a difficult process to narrow it down to only 10, but the sheer number and depth of the applicants truly amazed me.

I have long had an interest in healthcare since my mother was a critical care nurse and my grandmother was also a nurse. During my childhood, my cousin died while waiting for a kidney transplant. In college, I focused on bio-medical ethics and had originally planned to be a hospital lawyer. It's always been a passion of mine – how to expand healthcare to all.

So, it gives me incredible hope when working on the TD Ready Challenge this year that we have the best and brightest working on some of the most serious challenges we face today. People are not satisfied with the status quo – no matter what side of the political spectrum you are on. Healthcare can be the third rail and very polarizing; we don't all agree on how it should be paid for and how to ensure everyone has access. But the concept that a child is not vaccinated because of a lack of access or an adult has high blood pressure, but cannot get treatment, I think we can all agree is not right.

What I can tell you is that the process of going through selecting the TD Ready Challenge recipients is that there is a lot of good in our society and that there are so many brilliant people trying to make the world a better place. It's easy to forget with the onslaught of bad news, but I've seen it first hand, and you will too when you read about our grant recipients.

TD is well positioned to lead the conversation

It's not often that banks are viewed as a force for good, but TD is an organization that is using its financial strength and position to make a positive change in our communities through our TD Ready Challenge grants and The Ready Commitment. TD recognizes it has a responsibility to positively impact the communities we serve for both our employees and customers.

My hope for the 2019 TD Ready Challenge and all of our citizenship work is that we lead the conversation on finding solutions to the most serious issues. We are invested in this cause, and my greatest hope is that other corporations and organizations will follow.

*All USD amounts represent an estimate based on the current foreign exchange rate from CDN.

Want to learn more about Climate & Sustainability?
Taking the Next Step Toward Net-Zero
Finding Local, Equitable Solutions to Climate Change
Bharat Masrani: Adapting with Purpose – TD's 2020 Environmental, Social and Governance Report

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