BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York Announces Blue Fund
Grant Giving Will Focus on Health, Children and Education for Clinicians
Buffalo, NY — BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York today announced the creation of the Blue Fund, a new health-focused grants program.
The Blue Fund will award major grants in Western New York, totaling approximately $1 million to $3 million annually, to organizations and initiatives that have a positive impact on key health areas. These include behavioral health, cardiovascular health, diabetes, health care workforce development, healthy children and the opioid epidemic.
The leadership team at the health plan working closely with the BlueCross BlueShield Board of Directors determined these areas have the highest impact on the overall health and well-being of the community. The decision was based on public health studies, the health plan’s own claims data and input from community leaders.
The Blue Fund, which is part of an expanded giving strategy based on the Board’s recommendation, the stability of the health plan and a strong reserve position, serves as a new source of grants that will enhance BlueCross BlueShield’s long-standing corporate citizenship of partnerships and sponsorships. Blue Fund grants will invest necessary dollars to programs and projects that align with the focused health areas, are ready for implementation, and will demonstrate enhanced measurable outcomes for community health metrics. Grants will also serve to enhance visibility for awarded programs and projects by leveraging the important role BlueCross BlueShield serves in the region as the longest-standing and strongest health plan.
The Blue Fund will complement, and not replace, the current corporate giving program of partnerships and sponsorships which saw community investments of more than $2 million in Western New York in 2017.
“At BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, we’re proud of our longstanding commitment to our community,” said David W. Anderson, BlueCross BlueShield President and CEO. “The Blue Fund gives us another tool to make meaningful and impactful investments in projects and initiatives that build on the tremendous momentum in our region and improve the health and sustainability of our community.”
In conjunction with the establishment of the Blue Fund, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York announced that Michael Ball, a seasoned community development leader, will lead the launch and overall management of the health plan’s initiative.
Ball will report to BlueCross BlueShield’s Vice President, Corporate Relations, Julie R. Snyder, and in addition to overseeing the grant-giving process, will provide guidance, support and feedback to recipients to help entities reach measurable goals and outcomes.
“Michael brings a wealth of experience in leading programs and initiatives that support public health and the greater development of the region,” said Snyder. “I’m confident that he will successfully elevate our company’s giving strategy by identifying innovative opportunities to address our community’s most pressing health needs.”
A lifelong Western New York resident, Ball joins BlueCross BlueShield from Empire State Development (ESD) where he most recently served as regional director. He also served as executive director of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, and was charged with strategic planning and local implementation of the state’s annual funding competition.
Prior to joining ESD, Ball served as director of planning and implementation and director of the Healthy Communities Initiative for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
Ball received a master’s degree in urban planning and certificate of specialization in economic development planning from the University at Buffalo, and a bachelor’s degree in political science and urban studies from Canisius College.
Inaugural Blue Fund recipients as well as the 2019 grant cycle submission and selection process will be announced prior to the end of 2018 at bcbswny.com/bluefund. For information on the health plan’s current guidelines for corporate giving (sponsorships and partnerships), which will continue under the leadership of Caitlin Zulewski, Director, Corporate Relations, please visit bcbswny.com/communitysupport.