IBC Foundation awards $4.5 million in grants

2013 funding increases access to care, supports nursing education and helps build healthy communities

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| Source: Independence Blue Cross
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PHILADELPHIA, PA., Feb. 20, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Independence Blue Cross Foundation announced that it awarded 109 grants in southeastern Pennsylvania during 2013, totaling $4.5 million. The grants targeted four primary areas: increasing access to quality, affordable care in medically underserved areas; bolstering the health care workforce; addressing health priorities; and building healthier communities.

"We are excited to lead sustainable solutions to improve the health and wellness of our neighborhoods in our Foundation's second year. We continue to support programs aimed at resolving our community's most pressing health priorities, including expanding access to care for nearly 200,000 people in underserved areas through partnerships with community health centers, and helping approximately 240 students pursue their nursing education at area nursing schools," said Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the IBC Foundation. "We're also excited that 20 schools in our region are now participating in the IBC Foundation Healthy Futures initiative, launched in October 2012. This is another major step forward in our efforts to improve childhood wellness, reverse the childhood obesity epidemic, and follow national guidance encouraging children to eat right, get fit, and stay well, Healthy Future key components."

Increasing access to quality, affordable care in medically underserved areas

The IBC Foundation has a longstanding commitment to investing in the health care safety net through the Blue Safety Net program. This program funds private, nonprofit community health centers that provide access to quality care in medically underserved areas. In 2013, the IBC Foundation provided more than $2.3 million in funding to 41 health centers, including first-time grants to five organizations:

  • Einstein Community Practice Clinic, to support expanded operations, including a patient navigator to coordinate care for uninsured patients.
  • North Philadelphia Health System, to support a discharge program that coordinates the transition of care for uninsured patients from the hospital to a community health center.
  • Philadelphia FIGHT, to support a new dental program offered to patients of the Jonathan Lax Treatment Center.
  • Salus University — The Eye Institute, to provide vision and ocular health services to uninsured adults.
  • Spectrum Health Services, Inc., to support the new Spectrum Health Center, a community clinic in west Philadelphia.

Bolstering the Health Care Workforce

In 2013, the IBC Foundation provided $1 million in Nurses for Tomorrow grants to 22 area nursing programs to fund graduate and undergraduate nursing scholarships to strengthen the nursing workforce through education, career development, and research. The Foundation also provided summer internships for 25 undergraduate nursing students who spent 10 weeks working in a Foundation-supported community health center or providing health and wellness counseling at IBC.

Addressing Health Priorities

In addition to these grants, the IBC Foundation launched a groundbreaking new initiative in 20 elementary schools throughout southeastern Pennsylvania called Healthy Futures. The IBC Foundation Healthy Futures Initiative is a three-year, $3 million innovative, comprehensive, collaborative approach to improve childhood health and wellness. The Foundation's goal is to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in our communities and build bright and healthy futures for generations to come. The Foundation provided $680,500 in funding in 2013 to this initiative including first-time grants to:

  • Greener Partners, to support the Farm Explorer, a hands-on mobile farm to help children connect with food from seed to plate.
  • Villanova University College of Nursing, MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education, to conduct surveys and focus groups about the eating and fitness habits of fourth grade students, the targeted population of the Healthy Futures program.

Other partners in this Healthy Futures initiative include: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Vetri Foundation for Children, Fit Essentials, Philadelphia Union, and Drexel University.

Building Healthier Communities

Through its Building Healthy Communities grant program, the IBC Foundation seeks to partner with community organizations offering programs that improve the health and wellness of the people of southeastern Pennsylvania. In 2013, the IBC Foundation provided $356,090 in funding to 15 organizations, including the following new recipients:

  • Child and Family Connections, to support families with chronic mental illness.
  • Citizens Acting Together Can Help, Inc, for the Patriot House for homeless veterans.
  • Cranaleith Spiritual Center, for a healing program primarily aimed at women veterans.
  • Daemion Counseling Center, to provide mental health services for the under and uninsured.
  • Linda Creed Epstein Foundation, to provide women free breast screenings and diagnostic tests.
  • New Directions Support Group, Inc, to promote mental health programs in Montgomery County.
  • Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to provide an after-school/summer enrichment garden club. 
  • Philly Girls in Motion, to support fitness and single sport programs for girls ages 8 – 14.
  • Simons Fund, to support heart health screenings for student athletes to detect hidden heart conditions.
  • The Veterans Group, to support programs that help veterans transition back to the community.
  • Won Institute, to support an acupuncture clinic for veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Neighborhood Strategies to National Solutions Conference

In addition to funding, the IBC Foundation provides interactive opportunities for national health experts and leaders to join together in dialogue and partnerships to leverage their experience in addressing common community health challenges.

"In September, our Neighborhood Strategies to National Solutions Conference explored how nursing, community health care, and healthcare organizations can work more collaboratively for the benefit of the entire community. It generated excellent ideas and discussion about ways to best prepare community health professionals for the post health care reform era. It also highlighted successful regional strategies that can be replicated nationally," said Marshall-Blake.

About the Independence Blue Cross Foundation

The Independence Blue Cross Foundation is a charitable, private foundation, whose mission is leading solutions for a healthier community. The foundation targets the following areas of impact:

  • Securing the Blue Safety Net: Supporting private, nonprofit community health center clinics that provide access to quality, affordable healthcare in medically underserved areas.
  • Bolstering the Health Care Workforce: Strengthening the nursing, primary care, and allied health workforce through education, career development, and research.
  • Addressing Health Priorities:  Collaborating with wellness partners to tackle the region's most pressing health challenges; currently combating the obesity epidemic through the IBC Foundation Healthy Futures Initiative.
  • Building healthy communities: Partnering with community leaders and programs to address community health and wellness needs.

Learn more by visiting our website: www.ibxfoundation.org.  Connect with the Independence Blue Cross Foundation on Twitter at @ibxfdn.

A photo accompanying this release is available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=23708

CONTACT: Media Contacts:	  			
         Ruth Stoolman 				
         Independence Blue Cross	
         Ruth.Stoolman@ibx.com	
         215-241-4807 (office)	
         215-280-3335 (cell)