In celebration of its milestone 75th anniversary, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode (BCBSRI) awarded three $75,000 grants to Rhode Island agency collaborations to provide community education and outreach programs on nutrition and physical activity for children and their families, in addition to the organization’s annual grants. Funding for these programs is part of BCBSRI’s 2014 BlueAngel Community Health Grant program (BACHG), which supports nonprofit organizations addressing critical health issues in Rhode Island.
“We are focusing on our next 75 years in Rhode Island, and helping our kids combat the child obesity epidemic is a natural way for this year’s celebration to make a long-term impact,” said Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and chief executive officer of BCBSRI. “Rhode Island’s future rests with the next generation, and we hope that these collaborations will create a commitment to healthy behaviors that lasts for generations.”
The following three organizations and their partners will receive $75,000 in BACHG funding in 2014:
· The Learning Community, a K-8 public charter school serving Central Falls, Providence and Pawtucket, for the nutrition and physical activity program Not Just Gym. In collaboration with The Apeiron Institute for Sustainable Living and Shri Yoga Studios’ Shri Service Corps, Not Just Gym is aimed at engaging students and their families in a lifelong commitment to exercise and healthy living and will further develop and integrate health and fitness curriculum into The Learning Community’s ongoing program. New additions include expanded afterschool programs and school-day innovations such as activity monitors and circuit training.
· Ready to Learn Providence (R2LP), a nonprofit organization working to close the educational achievement gap, for the Let’s Get Moving! initiative, which will be used to support child and family service agencies to train and support their staff in enhancing nutrition and exercise programming for children under five. One of these enhancements is the “I am Moving I am Learning” (IM/IL) program, a research-based initiative developed as a Head Start enhancement program to address childhood obesity. The program is a collaborative effort among local child and family service agencies, including Children’s Friend and Providence Community Library, as well as 10 center-based child care programs and three Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) organizations.
· Thundermist Health Center, a non-profit community health center that provides health care regardless of ability to pay, for the Impacting Obesity Together: Woonsocket initiative, which focuses on increasing healthy diets and physical activity among low-income Woonsocket families. Thundermist will lead the initiative in collaboration with the Greater Providence YMCA, Farm Fresh Rhode Island and Connecting for Children and Families.
In addition, BCBSRI will award $135,000 in transitional grants to the following organizations:
· Amos House will receive $26,000 to be used for its psychiatric services program.
· The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center (MLKCC) will receive $24,000 for its Nutrition Education at MLKCC program.
· Farm Fresh Rhode Island will receive $20,000 for its Healthy Foods, Healthy Families program.
· Progreso Latino will receive $24,000 for its BlueAngel Improve Your Health (Mejora tu Salud) Program.
· The Providence Center will receive $24,000 for its Health Connection Program.
· Children’s Friend will receive a $17,000 grant to support breastfeeding in low-income women.
The BACHG Program is the cornerstone of BCBSRI’s charitable giving. Since the Program’s inception in 2002, BCBSRI has donated over $2.3 million dollars to support Rhode Island nonprofit organizations helping un- and under-insured Rhode Islanders live healthier lives. Funded programs have touched more than 220,000 people in Rhode Island since the BACHG’s launch.