"Racism is a public health threat that affects the health and wellbeing of our members and local communities," said Shaune Lancit, Director of Community Engagement at WellCare of North Carolina. "Addressing racial equity is important for us at WellCare, and we are proud to team with these 14 organizations to address systemic racism and other issues that impact the health of our communities in North Carolina."
According to the CDC, racism negatively affects the mental and physical health of millions of people, preventing them from attaining their highest level of health, and consequently, affecting the health of our nation. Further data shows racial and ethnic minority groups throughout the United States experience higher rates of illness and death across a wide range of health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, and heart disease, when compared to their white counterparts. The COVID-19 pandemic, and its disproportionate impact among racial and ethnic minority populations is another example of enduring health disparities.
Understanding that systematic racism presents barriers for individuals to access healthcare and other needed social resources – and in order to support the company's mission of improving the lives of its members and local communities – WellCare recently hosted a workshop with the Racial Equity Institute, a group whose mission is to help leaders and organizations address racism through training and advocacy.
Following the workshop, WellCare offered a series of grants whereby statewide community partners attending the seminar could apply for one-time funding of $1,000. To qualify for these grants, the organizations must be a nonprofit and/or registered 501c3 and must address modern-day racial inequity at their agency. Awardees were notified of their awards on Dec. 15, 2020.
In total, the following 14 organizations were selected to receive grants:
Boys & Girls Club of Henderson County
Homeward Bound of Western NC
Greensboro Housing Coalition
The Black Suit Initiative
YWCA of High Point
West Blvd Neighborhood Coalition
100 Black Men of the Triangle East
Brick Capital Community Development
Empowered Parents in the Community
Garner Road Community Center
YWCA of Lower Cape Fear
Among them, the Boys and Girls Club of Henderson County (BGCHC) will use the funds to engage staff in unconscious bias and racial equity training. Trainings will allow Club staff to examine systemic causes for racial inequity and how race-based caste systems unconsciously influence how they as youth-development professionals serve their members and families.
Additionally, Care Ring, a nonprofit whose mission is to empower individuals with limited resources to establish and maintain good health, will use this grant to provide seed funding as they launch their racial equity program, including a Racial Equity Task Force. Near-term objectives are to finalize structure, membership, and operating procedures for the committee, draft a charter, select board and staff co-chairs, and source external expertise.
"Homeward Bound is grateful for WellCare's commitment to race, equity, diversity, and inclusion," said Leigh Anne Miller, Homeward Bound Human Resources Specialist. "Our grant will help us advance these values at our agency as we work to prevent and end homelessness. We know that when we work together as a community, we see positive change."
"We recognize this work is ongoing, and we hope these funds allow our partners to create opportunities that help improve health outcomes and create a more equitable society," said Lancit.
WellCare of North Carolina provides government-sponsored managed care services to families, children, seniors and individuals with complex needs primarily through Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans across the state. WellCare of North Carolina is one of the state's Medicaid Prepaid Health Plans (PHPs). WellCare is a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation, a leading multi-national healthcare enterprise that is committed to helping people live healthier lives. For more information about WellCare, please visit www.wellcare.com/nc.