Foundation offering $1 million grants for communities addressing disparities upstream

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is requesting proposals for grant awards of up to $1 million to address the social and environmental factors that lead to disparities in childhood health.

In communities across Louisiana, children are struggling with chronic health conditions like asthma, allergies and juvenile diabetes. But their families are also reckoning with factors that are mostly out of their control and make managing those conditions much more difficult, like poverty, environmental conditions and access to care.

Foundation grants seek community-level interventions

“Much of our work to-date has focused on treating outcomes for children,” says Blue Cross Foundation president Michael Tipton. “But, research has pushed us and other funders to look upstream and see that an entire ecosystem is contributing to poor outcomes for our kids. And if we don’t address those, we can’t make meaningful change in improving Louisiana’s health rankings.”

The Foundation is seeking projects that use the “collective impact” model – entire communities and multiple agencies working together to solve problems.  Most recently, the Foundation used this model in its Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana grant program, which funded community-wide approaches to obesity.

Health disparities follow racial lines

Most gaps in children’s health and education outcomes fall along racial lines, disproportionately affecting people of color. Data show that when compared to people of other backgrounds, black Louisianans are 1.5 to 4 times more likely to experience poor health outcomes and higher mortality rates – regardless of their income status. These disparities start early – beginning with maternal health and birth outcomes, and following children for their entire lives.

African American children are especially vulnerable to these same impacts, particularly so when other compounding factors are present such as poverty, stressful family situations (single-parent households are one example) and geographic isolation.

A growing body of evidence suggests that attempts to address gaps in health care and education at an early age are especially likely to yield positive results. Furthermore, projects around the country have proven that closing the gaps along racial and socio-economic lines for children leads to better outcomes not just for these children but for the whole community.

For those interested in submitting an application for the Foundation’s grantmaking program, Tipton encourages them to reach out to Foundation staff to begin a conversation. The next formal application deadline is Sept. 1, 2018, and it can take six to eight weeks to put together an application.

A full request for proposals (RFP) and the application can be found online at www.BCBSLAFoundation.org.

Contributed by Blue Cross Blue Shield La.