Blue Cross Foundation Awards Grants to Nonprofits Statewide

Jan 27, 2010, 15:44 ET from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

Grants of $2.5 million strengthen nonprofits during economic downturn, improve child and immigrant health

EAGAN, Minn., Jan. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation awarded $2.5 million in grants to nonprofit organizations hard hit by the recession and in support of projects under its statewide grantmaking initiatives that improve health by tackling key social conditions.

Launched by the Foundation in 2009, the Resilient Organizations Fund helps strengthen Minnesota nonprofits facing budget challenges during tough times when demands for their services continue to rise. The two-year program, developed with input from the Foundation's current grantees, nonprofit experts and other grantmakers, combines trainings, webinars and consultation, capacity-building grants and the engagement of Blue Cross employee volunteers.

"We know that strong nonprofits are key to healthy communities," said Foundation Vice President Joan Cleary. "Our partnership with Fieldstone Alliance, MAP for Nonprofits, Nonprofits Assistance Fund and the state's six Initiative Foundations is already starting to make a difference as grantees draw on their resilience and leadership to explore innovative responses to the new economy in ways that build a more sustainable future."

Resilient Organizations Fund ($633,522). Twenty-nine grants were awarded for strategic planning, board and staff development, financial planning and management, technology improvements, exploration of shared services and merger possibilities and other capacity building efforts.

"This is a rare opportunity to reinforce our agency resiliency, so that we can continue the quality work accomplished by so many," said Armando Camacho, president of Neighborhood House in St. Paul.

"This funding opportunity and project are innovative and will allow us to diversify our revenue streams and continue providing the much needed social work and case management services needed by our clients and their families," said Lori Stone, manager of special initiatives, The Center for Victims of Torture, Minneapolis.

Visit or to learn more about the fund and a full listing of grants.

Grants made in four other areas:

Growing Up Healthy: Kids and Communities ($680,800). Growing Up Healthy improves community conditions in ways that nurture the healthy growth and development of young children. The Foundation supports partnerships that connect children's health with early childhood development, safe and affordable housing and the environment. One example is Carlton County Public Health, which is working with more than 28 area organizations to identify, reach and serve children who are homeless, in transitional housing, in unsafe living environments or affected by violence.

Healthy Together: Creating Community with New Americans ($745,000). Healthy Together fosters civic engagement involving immigrants and the broader community, helps strengthen immigrant-led organizations and promotes the mental health and social adjustment of new Americans. The Mayo Clinic received a grant to evaluate the use of community health workers in a primary care setting as a strategy for improving immigrant health outcomes.

Community Support ($369,640). The Foundation matched Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota employee contributions to the health plan's 2009 Community Giving Campaign at 50 percent, which benefited more than 600 nonprofit organizations throughout the state and border communities.

Public Awareness and Policy Support ($121,000). Grantees addressing policy related to social, economic and environmental determinants of health include Wilder Research Center, commissioned by the Blue Cross Foundation to produce a study and recommendations on metro area health inequities using Twin Cities Compass and other data sources.  

"We're proud of the 'upstream' work of our grantees to improve the health of communities throughout the state," said Marsha Shotley, foundation president. "We know that through this kind of commitment, we all have better chances and choices to lead longer, healthier lives."

The Blue Cross Foundation is the state's largest grantmaking foundation to exclusively dedicate its assets to improving health in Minnesota, awarding more than $27 million since it was established in 1986. The Foundation's purpose is to look beyond health care today for ideas that create healthier communities tomorrow, through a focus on key social, economic and environmental factors that determine health, to improve community health long-term and close the health gap that affects many Minnesotans.

SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota