The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation has announced that in 2011 it awarded grants totaling $2.2 million to organizations working to improve health and communities.
Grants were awarded in four areas: healthy children ($930,000), healthy neighborhoods ($528,580), community support (468,614), and the Healthy Together immigrant health initiative ($303,707). Through its focus on children, the foundation provided support to organizations working to improve the quality of housing, reduce children's exposure to harmful chemicals, increase readiness for kindergarten, and boost children's access to healthy foods and safe places to play. As part of its healthy neighborhood focus, the foundation worked with the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation by funding two health impact assessments in Minnesota.
"As much as 50 percent of our health is influenced by the conditions where we live, learn, work, and play," said BCBSMF executive director Carolyn Link. "Having access to health care and making healthy choices are important, but they account for only half of our health. We're re-thinking the model of what contributes to good health, and that includes addressing the social and economic factors. Making an investment in a healthier neighborhood or early childhood learning is very much an investment in health."