Our History

Since our founding in 1996, Health Leads has evolved from a small student-driven campus organization to a fully staffed 10 million dollar organization with programs in 15 hospitals and clinics.

1996-2005 Growing Organically

College students open the first Health Leads Desk at Boston Medical Center, and word of the program spreads. Student interest leads to partnerships in other cities and we expand our capacity.

1996

Rebecca D. Onie and Dr. Barry Zuckerman found Health Leads as “Project HEALTH” at Boston Medical Center, then called Boston City Hospital, in partnership with Harvard University.

1997

Health Leads Providence launches in partnership with Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Brown University.

1999

Health Leads New York launches in partnership with Harlem Hospital Center and Columbia University.

2001

Instigated by a Health Leads alumnus, Health Leads Washington launches in partnership with Children’s National Medical Center and George Washington University.

2001

Health Leads incorporates as a 501(c)(3) organization.

2001

Project HEALTH Board of Directors convenes for the first time.

2006-2009 Defining Our Model

Health Leads defines our model to focus on clinic integration and expands to new cities, demonstrating replication in different kinds of healthcare settings.

2006

At the behest of Baltimore’s Health Commissioner and former practitioner at Boston Medical Center, Health Leads Baltimore launches in partnership with the Baltimore City Health Department, Johns Hopkins Health System and Johns Hopkins University, later expanding to Loyola University.

2006

Health Leads expands its program to Chicago.

2007

New Profit Inc., a Massachusetts-based venture philanthropy organization, selects Health Leads to join its portfolio of high-performing nonprofits and invests $1 million.

2007

Recognizing that low-income patients often receive care in community health centers, Health Leads partners with our first federally qualified health center, Baltimore Medical Systems Clinic at Saint Agnes Hospital.

2008

Recognizing the need for increased program capacity, Health Leads hires our first program manager to provide targeted case management support and supervision to students.

2008

Health Leads Co-Founder and CEO earns an Ashoka Fellowship.

2008

Health Leads Baltimore expands its partnership with Johns Hopkins Health System by providing services at the Bayview Medical Center.

2009

First Lady Michelle Obama praises Health Leads in her keynote address at the TIME Magazine 100 Most Influential People Gala.

2009

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation names Health Leads a Vulnerable Population Portfolio grantee and invests $2 million.

2009

Health Leads Co-Founder and CEO receives the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation’s New Frontier Award.

2009

Health Leads Co-Founder and CEO is selected as MacArthur Fellow.

2010-2014 Proving Our Case

Health Leads raises $11.1 million to hone our model and build our capacity for future growth.

2010

Project HEALTH changes its name to Health Leads and staff grows to 28.

2010

Johns Hopkins Children’s Center agrees to pay for the cost of its two Health Leads Desks, becoming the first healthcare institution to pay in full for Health Leads services.

2010

Health Leads Co-Founder and CEO is named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

2011

Health Leads Co-Founder and CEO appears on the Forbes Impact 30 list of leading social entrepreneurs.

2011

Health Leads receives the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, marking Skoll’s first domestic investment.

2012

Health Leads staff grows to 55.

2012

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reinvests in Health Leads with $4.5 million.

2012

Health Leads Co-Founder and CEO awarded Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award by the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School.

2013

Rebecca Onie is named the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year.

2013

Health Leads staff surpasses 70.

2013

Health Leads launches its partnership with Nassau University Medical Center and Hofstra University in New York.  This desk marks the first in a suburban location.

2013

Health Leads launches a partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners Healthcare.

2014

Health Leads opens its office in California’s Bay Area.  The initial partnership includes Kaiser Permanente, Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, and the University of California, Berkeley.