Excellus BlueCross BlueShield selects 10 CNY nonprofits to receive Community Health Awards

Posted on May 12, 2021


For Immediate Release                                                                                         Contact:Edward Byrnes

Date:May 12, 2021                                                                                                  (315) 671-7223


Excellus BlueCross BlueShield selects 10 CNY nonprofits to receive Community Health Awards

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Excellus BlueCross BlueShield chose 10 organizations from among more than 80 Central New York nonprofits that submitted applications for the Community Health Awards the company made available in upstate New York earlier this year.


Each recipient was awarded up to $5,000 allocated by the company to help fund health and wellness programs in the company’s five-county Central New York region. Through a competitive application process, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Community Health Awards support programs that have clear goals to improve the health or health care of a specific population.


Awards focus on improving the health status of the community, reducing the incidence of specific diseases, promoting health education and enhancing overall wellness. Winning organizations are selected based on the proposed program’s scope of need, goals, and the number of people expected to benefit from it.


The 10 nonprofit organizations in the Central New York region selected to receive Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Spring 2021 Community Health Awards are:

·         Children's Hearing Aid Program - AURORA of CNY, Inc.
Funding will support the organization as it assists economically disadvantaged families in obtaining hearing aids for their children with hearing loss. The program also includes social work support to connect families to community resources and provide patient education.

·         Healthy Eating-Healthy Outcomes - Cayuga County Community Health Network, Inc.
Funding will support the organization in its mission to increase children’s exposure to quality food, reduce mealtime stress, and create positive associations with food and mealtime for young children (typically 2 to 4 years old) which will reduce the likelihood of childhood obesity for 30 families with at least 1 toddler.

·         Equity through Enhanced Access to Language Services (EEALS) - Cayuga Medical Center at Ithaca
Funding will support the expansion of CMC’s capacity to provide high quality, equitable health care services to people with limited English proficiency (LEP) and to provide culturally and linguistically responsive services by increasing the number of electronic devices available for interpretation services and provide direct audio and visual interpretation in real-time for the duration of a patient’s stay. Funding will also support training and education for staff.

·         Suicide-safer Community Project - Contact Community Services
Funding will support the organization’s efforts to increase community awareness of suicide and its warning signs. The Project provides suicide prevention information and resources through educational materials, media messaging, and QPR Gatekeeper training. The aim is to increase suicide prevention knowledge and skills to assist those in crisis within the community, thus reducing stigma and ensuring that those who need support will receive it before they reach a suicidal crisis.

·         Pantry Partners: Community Gardens - InterFaith Works of Central New York, Inc.
Funding will support the organization’s efforts to address food insecurity and hunger in underserved communities in the city of Syracuse, supporting community members’ ability to grow and sustain their own healthful food sources, increase enjoyment of the outdoors, and build “community” among participants.

·         Your COVID Wellness Toolkit: More Tools to Keep Your Family Healthy, Safe, and Whole - Onondaga County Medical Society  

Funding will support the organization’s efforts with families feeling the weight of unstable housing, food insecurity, family and social disruption and loss, and a year of overwhelming stress. Via outreach to schools/PTOs, churches, community centers, and physicians' offices, program efforts will focus on generating participation from neighborhoods within Onondaga County that have the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases, the lowest rates of COVID-19 vaccine penetrance, and whose residents' health and wellness is most precarious.

·         Lakeview Center for Primary Care - Oswego Health
Funding will support the organization in its efforts to engage the region’s underserved population of patients including those with mental illness.  Individuals seen at this facility often suffer from chronic, untreated health conditions including pulmonary illnesses. These illnesses, compounded by mental illness puts vulnerable patients at risk for developing chronic lung diseases such as asthma and COPD.

·         Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) - Seven Valleys Health Coalition
Funding will support the FVRx Program which provides healthy, fresh produce to low-income and underserved rural residents who struggle to access fresh foods, as well as nutrition and cooking education through virtual cooking classes and one-on-one personalized nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian.

·         Summer Teen Farm & Food Justice Program - The Youth Farm Project
A diverse group of teens from across Tompkins County will engage in farm, food, and social justice education for seven weeks including community engagement activities,

four community events, four local farm visits, and a wide variety of workshops. Farm fresh meals will be prepared daily on site with our chef. Teens will get to learn cooking techniques, enjoy a healthy lunch together, and learn new recipes.

·         Boosting vaccine equity in Syracuse - Syracuse Community Center Collaborative
Funding will provide transportation to COVID-19 vaccination appointments, resolving a main barrier to vaccine access for vulnerable Syracuse residents. The four city quadrants will be served by Syracuse Community Center Collaborative’s members - Westcott Community Center, Northeast Community Center, Syracuse Community Connections, and Huntington Family Center.

“The company’s Community Health Awards demonstrate a corporate commitment to supporting local organizations that share our mission as a nonprofit health plan,” said Mark Muthumbi, regional president, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “These awards given out earlier this year complement our existing grants and sponsorships with agencies that work to enhance quality of life, including health status, in upstate New York.”


Throughout its more than 80 years of providing access to high-quality, affordable health care in upstate New York, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has supported hundreds of programs that help residents in our community live healthier and more secure lives.

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 1.5 million upstate New York members. The company's mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With more than 3,500 employees, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit ExcellusBCBS.com.

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