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Blue Fund Awards $2.7 Million to Nine WNY Organizations

Grants support initiatives that improve community health outcomes

November 07, 2018

Buffalo, NY As part of its inaugural Blue Fund grant cycle, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York today announced $2.7 million in grant funding to nine major health-based projects across Western New York.

The not-for-profit, community-based health plan launched the Blue Fund in July 2018, to support organizations and initiatives that work collaboratively to address key health areas and demonstrate enhanced measurable outcomes for the community.

This round of grants are for nine regional projects that will have a positive impact on behavioral health, cardiovascular health, diabetes, health-care workforce development, healthy children and the opioid epidemic.   

“As the region’s longest-standing health plan, we’re investing in initiatives that address important needs in our community to create a healthier state for everyone,” said David W. Anderson, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York president and CEO. “These and future Blue Fund grants will enhance local organizations and efforts that address barriers to health and improve key health outcomes.”

These grants, funded from the health plan’s strong reserves, were awarded in addition to the health plan’s current corporate partnerships and sponsorships, which saw investments of more than $2 million in Western New York in 2017.

Below are the recipients of the inaugural Blue Fund awards:

Community Connections of New York, Inc.  Amount awarded: $224,699

Purpose: To support expansion of Positive Emotional Development and Learning Skills (PEDALS) in the Southern Tier. This project will bring a proven model for improving social and emotional development in preschool-age children to an additional population in the region and will benefit approximately 380 children over the two-year funding period.

The Horizon Corporations $500,000

Purpose: To support construction of the Training and Family Center, a new multi-purpose building that will provide a venue for advanced training for behavioral health workers, provide expanded and innovative programming for family members whose loved ones are in residential addiction treatment facilities, and develop a more robust after-care program for people successfully completing residential addiction treatment.

Jericho Road Ministries $303,279

Purpose: To support the Medically Oriented Gym program in Jericho Road Ministries Community Fitness Center. The gym will address the lack of affordable, safe access to fitness facilities in Buffalo’s East Side neighborhoods, work to decrease the effects of chronic disease, and aim to decrease health-care expenditures related to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular conditions.

KaBOOM! $300,000

Purpose: To support a community-built playground to give children equitable access to great play spaces. Two economically challenged Western New York communities, comprised of 5,000 children, will be playing more often and more actively. Volunteers, including BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York employees, will assemble play components, build decks, add landscaping, and create murals — making the playgrounds beautiful community gathering spaces.

Visiting Nursing Association of Western New York $500,000

Purpose: To launch a Nurse Residency Program that addresses the growing need for home-care nurses in Western New York. The VNA will hire from a pool of more than 500 local graduate nurses each year and effectively train and prepare them for a career in home care. Funds will also be used for skilled nurse mentor preceptors and upgrades to training equipment.

Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo  $200,000

Purpose: To support the expansion of emergency access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and rapid referral to long-term community treatment for patients with opioid-use disorder. With this project, Emergency Department staff can call a 24/7 hotline and schedule follow-up appointments at participating MAT clinics, and patients can choose from 64 weekly appointment slots at one of 27 Western New York substance-abuse treatment clinics. Each clinic has agreed to reserve spots for patients in the program regardless of their ability to pay. This solution can be adapted for other patients and communities throughout the region.

Save the Michaels of the World, Inc. $100,000

Purpose: To support the Court to Treatment Transportation Program, which transports individuals who are being sentenced to inpatient rehabilitation facilities — resulting in long-term recovery, reduced recidivism, and saved lives. In partnership with the New York State court system, Save the Michaels of the World will expand its work to 44 courts in Western New York.

Say Yes Buffalo $298,848

Purpose: To support a school-based health home-care management program that places Say Yes health home care managers in Buffalo Public schools to address the vast health needs of children. The pilot program will provide school-based comprehensive care coordination, health promotion, patient and family supports, and service referrals to the neediest students. These interventions will take a holistic view of children’s health.

Western New York Land Conservancy, Inc. $246,000

Purpose: To support the design and implementation of the DL&W multi-use trail and linear park.  The project will transform the abandoned DL&W rail corridor into a safe and accessible recreational asset connecting downtown Buffalo near Canalside to the Buffalo River at Riverbend, through the Old First Ward, Perry, and Valley neighborhoods.  The inspiring community gathering place will be the focal point of a revitalized, healthy community and restored natural ecosystem. As a welcoming space for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds, it will improve the physical and mental health for youth, residents, and visitors.


To learn more about the Blue Fund and the 2019 grant cycle submission and selection process, visit