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Blue Cross Foundation Awards $660,000 in Grants to Improve Community Health

EAGAN, Minn., Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation recently awarded $450,000 in grants under two initiatives focused on improving health in Minnesota -- $240,000 under the Foundation's Growing Up Healthy: Kids and Communities initiative and $210,000 for the Healthy Together: Creating Community with New Americans initiative. An additional $210,000 was awarded to grantees working on public awareness and policy support for social, environmental and economic conditions that promote health.

Growing Up Healthy, nurtures the healthy growth and development of children under age five by supporting partnerships that connect children's health with early childhood development opportunities, safe and affordable housing and the environment. Healthy Together is a statewide grants program that addresses the mental health, social adjustment and integration of immigrants and refugees.

"We are committed to these "upstream" community-focused programs that improve health for the long-term, particularly in these challenging times," said Joan Cleary, foundation vice president.

Recent grants include:

Growing Up Healthy: Kids and Communities

Indigenous Environmental Network, Bemidji, Minn., $60,000 for the Ojibwe Seventh Generation Guardianship project on the Leech Lake reservation, teaching young children about the importance of nutritious wild foods, traditional language and culture.

Native American Community Clinic, Minneapolis, $60,000 for the Healthy Homes -- Healthy Kids project to improve the quality of low-income rental property housing in the Phillips neighborhood, reducing childhood illness by reducing exposures to environmental toxicants -- in partnership with Preventing Harm Minnesota.

White Earth Land Recovery Project, Callaway, Minn., $60,000 for the Farm to School project on the White Earth Reservation, protecting the health of children by addressing pesticide contamination issues, promoting reservation-wide strategies to reduce environmental pollution, increasing the consumption of fresh locally grown and organic foods, and strengthening the local economy.

Women's Environmental Institute, North Branch, Minn., $60,000 for the East Metro Environmental Justice Education and Advocacy Collaborative to provide information to low-income and communities of color to protect children and others from exposure to environmental toxins.

Healthy Together: Creating Community with New Americans

Central Minnesota Community Foundation, St. Cloud, Minn., $50,000 for Create CommUNITY's Learning Circles program that works to deepen understanding of different cultures among new immigrants and established residents in Central Minnesota, leading to better health for all.

ISAIAH, Minneapolis, $20,000 for the Restoring Hope, Restoring Health program to foster intentional relationship building among ISAIAH congregations, including Latino and African-American churches in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud.

Main Street Project, Minneapolis, $50,000 to strengthen relationships, leadership capacity and communications between the growing immigrant population and established residents in the Fargo-Moorhead region to create a healthier community -- a joint effort with Cultural Diversity Resources and People Escaping Poverty.

Mental Health Collective, Minneapolis, $40,000 for the Bridges project, a school-based mental health program for Latino and East African immigrant families, reaching both students and parents.

St. John Lutheran Home, Springfield, Minn., $50,000 for projects that bring together new immigrants and the broader communities in six rural towns in southwest Minnesota to foster healthy exchanges.

Public Awareness and Policy Support

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, $60,000 in support of the statewide Healthy Legacy Campaign to protect children from environmental hazards and toxic chemicals.

Minnesota Early Learning Foundation, St. Paul, Minn., $150,000 in support of the parent mentoring/home visitor pilot project in St. Paul's Frogtown and north-end neighborhoods designed to ensure that children have the skills and health for early learning success.

The Blue Cross Foundation's purpose is to look beyond health care today for ideas that create healthier communities tomorrow. By addressing key social, economic and environmental factors that determine health -- beyond genes, lifestyle and access to health care -- the foundation's work extends beyond the traditional reach of the health care system to improve community health long-term and close the health gap that affects many Minnesotans. The foundation has become the state's largest grantmaking foundation to exclusively dedicate its assets to improving health in Minnesota, awarding more than $25 million since it was established in 1986.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota's first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. A nonprofit, taxable organization, Blue Cross is the largest health plan based in Minnesota. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago.

SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation
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