Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is awarding $3,380,000 to nonprofit health and human service organizations that are making meaningful differences in the lives of the people of Illinois.
"Giving back to help our communities is part of our 78-year legacy of serving the people of Illinois," says Donna Gerber, vice-president, Public Affairs and Community Investments. "Just as the Affordable Care Act is transforming health care, we are adapting our giving to best serve the needs of the communities we call home. Our 2014 grants are focused on supporting programs that address disease prevention, access to care, disease management and systems that help with the deployment of ACA."
The organizations that are receiving Blue Cross grants represent a diverse mix of grassroots efforts and locally-based national organizations which share the common goal of improving the health and wellness of the people of Illinois.
Among the worthy recipients:
- Sinai Health System is receiving $500,000 to continue the work of the Lawndale Diabetes Project, which uses community health workers to help lower the costs of care, reduce diabetes-related complications, and improve the quality of life for those living with and those at-risk for type 2 diabetes in the North and South Lawndale neighborhoods of Chicago. "As a family practice physician, I am most appreciative of the Blue Cross Blue Shield-sponsored Lawndale Diabetes Project," says Ihab Aziz, MD, Chair, Family Medicine and Interim Chief Medical Officer, Sinai Health System. "Project community health workers (CHW) gain the trust of clients they meet by going door-to-door in the neighborhood. That trust relationship evolves into the clients feeling more comfortable about accepting education from the CHW and participating in more healthy behaviors. It can also result in clients establishing appointments with primary care physicians for more formal assessment of their diabetes. I am sure that CHWs save lives by developing their clients' trust, open communication and follow through on self-care, including seeing a physician."
- Springfield Collaborative for Active Child Health is a community-based group of academic, community, school, government and primary care providers that promotes the prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity in Springfield. BCBSIL is supporting the program with a $60,000 grant. "The members of the Springfield Collaborative for Active Child Health are grateful for the ongoing, generous support from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois for the last 5 years. With that support, we have formed a strong and lasting partnership among the SIU School of Medicine, the health care and wellness leaders of our local public schools, the overseers of the Head Start programs in Central Illinois, and the Illinois Department of Public Health, with the ultimate goals of helping our children eat well and engage in healthy physical activity," says David Steward, MD, MPH, Associate Dean for Community Health and Service, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
- Mano a Mano Family Resource Center is receiving $30,000 to support the Healthy Families Program, which services vulnerable, low-income, limited English-proficient Latino community members in Lake County. The program promotes access to care, along with health education and case management to help people receive benefits and services, nutrition education and physical activity. "Together with BCBSIL and our other partners, Mano a Mano is providing the resources and tools that Lake County immigrants need to raise healthy families and build strong communities," says Mano a Mano Executive Director Megan McKenna de Mejia, "We applaud and thank BCBSIL for their investment in a health and sustainable Lake County."
- Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law receives a $50,000 grant for HealthHub: Technical Assistance and Training for ACA Enrollment Specialists and Community-Based Organizations. "We deeply appreciate the support of BCSIL to operate HealthHub, our Affordable Care Act technical assistance hub for enrollment specialists. HealthHub provides up-to-the minute information and expert advice to over 1,300 Navigators and other enrollment specialists who are working every day on the ground to enroll uninsured populations into Medicaid and the Marketplace," says John Bouman, President of the Shriver Center. "Thanks to the generous support of BCBSIL, we have answered over 2,000 questions from Navigators and helped them enroll thousands of consumers into health care coverage."
In total, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois will support 72 community organizations through financial grants.
"We very carefully choose which non-profits to partner with," says Clarita Santos, BCBSIL Director of Community Health Initiatives. "We look for organizations that are in the communities and impact the day-to-day lives of people right where they need it."
The BCBSIL grant program is one way Blue Cross continues to serve the state of Illinois: last year BCBSIL employees also volunteered more than 19,000 hours giving their time and talents to more than 200 organizations that touched the lives of people across the state.
"Improving the health of the people of Illinois isn't just good from a health insurance business standpoint. At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, we've called Illinois our home for 78 years too, and making these changes means we're helping our friends, neighbors and families live longer, healthier lives," says Donna Gerber.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois