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Pictured are the 2023 `Blue Fund` recipients. (Image provided by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield)
Pictured are the 2023 "Blue Fund" recipients. (Image provided by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield)

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield 'Blue Fund' open for 2024 grant requests


Mon, Feb 26th 2024 03:20 pm

Health plan accepting proposals for $100,000-$300,000 for initiatives that ‘support community’s greatest health needs’

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Press Release

Through Highmark Bright Blue Futures charitable giving and community involvement program, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is accepting “Blue Fund” grant requests for 2024 funding through March 18.

Today’s announcement marks the seventh annual “Blue Fund” funding cycle for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Selected organizations will join 77 others that received a total of $19.6 million since “Blue Fund” launched in 2018.

For 2024, the local health plan will award grants ranging from $100,000 to $300,000 to nonprofit organizations and initiatives that align with at least one of “Blue Fund’s” key health areas. These include behavioral health, cardiovascular health, health care workforce development, healthy children, and maternal health.

“Through ‘Blue Fund,’ we uplift organizations and the incredible work they are doing to make meaningful and lasting impacts in our community,” said Michael Ball, vice president, community affairs for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. “A key component of what we look for in grant proposals is how Highmark’s funding will further amplify efforts to address racial and health inequities throughout Western New York.”

Community Health Centers of Buffalo received a grant in 2022 for the renovation, expansion, and programming for its center in Lockport, which addresses behavioral health for community members.

“The support provided by the ‘Blue Fund’ was critically needed to complete renovations for our new Lockport center. When the Main Street location opens in May 2024, there will be expanded access to comprehensive, affordable health care,” said Dr. Arvela R. Heider, chief innovation officer for the Community Health Center of Buffalo. “This includes integrating behavioral health services with primary care to address the unmet needs for children and adults across the Eastern Niagara region.”

Another project that has made significant strides since receiving a “Blue Fund” grant in 2021 is Project Stork, a woman-founded organization that addresses maternal mental health inequities that exist in the rural, low-income, and under-served population of both Orleans and Genesee counties. Through “Blue Fund,” the organization’s goals to provide direct support to families with maternal behavioral health concerns, prenatal and postpartum transportation barriers, as well as provide monetary assistance for supplemental basic needs for infants, became a reality.

Founder of Project Stork Jenny Staebell, MS.Ed., said, "The ‘Blue Fund’ has been remarkable. The community impact that we have made would have never been possible without Highmark behind us, supporting, encouraging, and rooting us on. We look forward to continuing a relationship with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.”

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield supported the Neighborhood Health Center through “Blue Fund” in 2021, and that enabled the organization to expand its population health care management model and better serve high-risk patients. This included its ability to co-locate its behavioral health department, community health workers, and wellness department to a new space at 1569 Niagara St., Buffalo.

“The ‘Blue Fund’ investment has helped Neighborhood Health Center expand access to much-needed primary care and behavioral health care in west Buffalo,” President and CEO Joanne Haefner said. “Our Riverway location on Niagara Street near Forest Avenue opened in 2022, and we have supportive care teams working out of that location to better serve the most high-risk patients, thanks to the ‘Blue Fund.’ ”

Reach Out and Read (Submitted photo)


Support from the “Blue Fund” brought Reach Out and Read to four more sites in the region, all Federally Qualified Health Centers under the Universal Primary Care health system. Since beginning a partnership in July, Reach Out and Read has been a part of more than 21,000 well-child visits at 30 clinics throughout Western New York, and has given out more than 18,000 books.

“A lot of our patients are low-income families, and the ability to provide a brand-new book to a family at their physicals is instrumental to the development for the children in early childhood,” said Theresa Egan, Reach Out and Read’s regional development director, northeast. “With ‘Blue Fund’s’ support, we are helping providers and residents have a structured way to provide anticipatory guidance to patients. It allows them to monitor parent-child relationships and language development.”

Representatives from the health plan shared that initiatives must be ready to implement and demonstrate measurable community outcomes in Western New York.

Submitting a brief letter of intent (LOI) using “Blue Fund’s” online application system is the required first step in the grant-making process. Selected applicants will then be invited to submit a full application, with funding decisions announced in the fall of 2024.

Organizations interested in applying are encouraged to visit Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield ‘Blue Fund’ website.

More About Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York is a trade name of Highmark Western and Northeastern New York Inc., an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Since 1936, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York has helped millions of people lead healthier lives. For up-to-date news, facts and information about the company, leadership and industry, visit bcbswny.com or follow on X/Twitter.

More About ‘Blue Fund’

“Blue Fund,” funded solely by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, awards major grants in Western New York annually, to organizations and initiatives that have a positive impact on key health areas and will demonstrate enhanced measurable outcomes for community health metrics. These include behavioral health, cardiovascular health, diabetes, health care workforce development, healthy children and maternal health. “Blue Fund” complements Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield's current corporate giving program of partnerships and sponsorships.

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