Highmark BSNENY Opens 2022 Blue Fund with Added Focus on Maternal Health Disparities
Health Plan Now Accepting Grant Requests for Initiatives that Support Community’s Greatest Health Needs
Latham, N.Y. — Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York announced that its Blue Fund is expanding its efforts to address maternal health disparities.
Now accepting applications online through April 1, 2022, the local health plan will award grants to nonprofit organizations and initiatives that align with at least one of Blue Fund’s key health areas that support the region’s greatest health needs. Blue Fund’s other key focus areas include behavioral health, cardiovascular health, health care workforce development, and healthy children.
“We are continuously evolving our strategy to ensure we are addressing the community’s most urgent needs,” said Dr. Michael Edbauer, president, Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York.
Pregnant women in the United States are more than twice as likely to die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth than those in most other high-income countries. And, according to data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), childbirth complications have been increasing specifically for women of color. The data shows that women in majority Black and Hispanic communities have a 63% and 32% higher rate, respectively, of severe maternal complications, than women in majority white communities.
“Every woman everywhere deserves equitable access to comprehensive maternal care regardless of their zip code. However, labor and delivery outcomes that result in significant consequences to a woman’s health often stem from racial and health disparities,” said Jennifer Johengen-Vogel, vice president, health management, Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York. “As a board member for the Buffalo Prenatal-Perinatal Network, I know first-hand how desperately important efforts to support maternal health are.”
As part of its fifth annual Blue Fund grant cycle, Highmark Blue Shield will award Blue Fund grants this Fall, giving special attention to projects that directly address racial and health inequities.
“We know the health of our region depends on the health of every corner of our community. Our Blue Fund investments uplift organizations who can make a meaningful impact,” said Michael Ball, vice president, community affairs for Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York.
Submitting a brief letter of intent (LOI) using Blue Fund’s online application system is the required first step in the grant-making process. Selected applicants will then be invited to submit a full application, with funding decisions announced in the fall of 2022. Blue Fund will consider requests for $100,000 to $200,000 grants from not-for-profit organizations in the below counties for initiatives that are ready to implement and demonstrate measurable community outcomes. Counties include Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Essex, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren and Washington.
Organizations interested in applying are encouraged to review program guidelines and focus areas as they may have changed from previous years. Visit bsneny.com/bluefund to learn more and to submit a letter of intent online for the 2022 grant cycle.
About Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York
Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York is a trade name of Highmark Western and Northeastern New York Inc., an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Since 1946, Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York has helped millions of people lead healthier lives. Blue Shield offers a full range of insured, self-insured, and government programs and services covering businesses, families, and individuals, as well as dental and vision plans and stop-loss coverage. As a community-based, not-for-profit health plan, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield contributes significantly to organizations that strengthen and enrich the health of the community.
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About Blue Fund
Blue Fund, funded solely by Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York, awards major grants in the Capital Region to organizations and initiatives that have a positive impact on key health areas and will demonstrate enhanced measurable outcomes for community health metrics. These include behavioral health, cardiovascular health, health care workforce development, healthy children and maternal health.