Excellus BlueCross BlueShield recently announced the recipients 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. These segments of our community continue to suffer from health care and social disadvantages due to racism and discrimination. Award categories include, 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 Eve Van de Wal, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Utica regional president.
“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 Utica region, $60,000 is being awarded to support the following initiatives:
• Mohawk Valley Frontiers Club — Paths to a Healthier Me
This program will focus on strengthening the mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing of students in communities of color. Through the format of a wellness program, students and their family members will be introduced to techniques and resources such as talk therapy and workshops to address the stigma around mental health treatment, racial injustices, systemic racism, and finding support, as well as relaxation, stress relief tips, physical movement, and self-care.
• Young Scholars LLP of Utica College — Young Scholars Mental Health Equity Programming
Young Scholars LLP provides year-round academic support, counseling, and social and cultural enrichment to students from diverse backgrounds and communities of color in grades seven through twelve. These students and their families are among the populations that face overall health disparities, particularly in the mental health area. This program will provide mental health support from a licensed social worker for students and their families.
For the latest information on the health plan’s community investments and partnerships, members, providers and employers are encouraged to visit www.excellusbcbs.com (then click “investment partnerships” in the search menu).