Excellus BCBS awards equity grants to local nonprofits

Seven local nonprofits will share more than $130,000 awarded by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield as part of its 2021 Health Equity Awards. The awards represent more than $388,000 in financial support the nonprofit health insurer is providing to community programs that address racial and ethnic health disparities across its upstate New York service area.

“Through these Health Equity Awards, we are honoring our pledge to invest in organizations that strive for equitable treatment and the elimination of discrimination for all people so they may have an opportunity to live healthier and more secure lives,” said Excellus BlueCross BlueShield President and CEO Jim Reed. “We believe we have a duty to lead by example and inspire positive change within our company, our industry, and broadly in the communities we serve. This work furthers our commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and access, which guides us in all we do.”

Last August, Excellus BCBS invited organizations to apply for awards of up to $30,000 each to help fund programs to improve health equity in communities of color, especially within Black and Latino communities. Officials noted that these segments of the community continue to suffer from health care and social disadvantages due to racism and discrimination. Award categories included but were not limited to, improving the community’s physical health and mental health, reducing social disparities in health care, and ensuring access to health care services.

The funding from Excellus BCBS will support 18 nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations across 39 counties of Upstate New York. With more than 150 applicants, a comprehensive review process included input from individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences to assess each proposal. Grant recipients were selected based on clear, defined goals and measurable results for reducing health disparities and improving health equity.

“We are a nonprofit health insurer with more than 4,000 employees who call upstate New York their home,” said Excellus BCBS Director of Community Investments and Partnerships Holly Snow. “Improving the health and quality of life in the communities we share with our members supports our mission. By funding these local initiatives, we will improve access to care and advance specific health outcomes and improve health equity.”

In the Rochester region, nearly $134,000 is being awarded to support the following initiatives:

• Center for Teen Empowerment – Multi-Neighborhood Youth Organizing: A Racial Equity Antidote to Community-Level Violence
• Empire Justice Center – Language Access Program.
• Mt Hope Family Center- Building Healthy Children.
• Partners in Community Development – Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) Parent Mental Health Project.
• The National Witness Project (NWP)-The Witness Project of Western New York.
• Wayne County Action Program – The Empowerment Program.
• YWCA – Health Equity through trusted community engagement program.

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