Education Access: Equitable Support for Students & Families

Thousands of students throughout the U.S. lack the resources and financial support needed to build professional and life skills to advance in their chosen careers.

Highmark works with organizations across the enterprise to increase children’s access to educational opportunities through training for specific career fields advancing skillsets in educational areas like healthcare and medical training, and providing scholarships to higher education programs that help students achieve their goals and continue on to successful and fulfilling career paths.

Children learning


Southwestern Pennsylvania

Many Pennsylvanians experience disparity due to the state’s educational opportunity gaps related to race and income levels. The Negro Educational Emergency Drive (NEED), a Pittsburgh organization that helps students learn about, plan for and enroll in higher education, has helped over 32,000 students access the resources they need to achieve their educational and career goals, since its founding in 1963

NEED works to transform outcomes for underserved youth in the Greater Pittsburgh region by providing enrichment programs, mentorship, career development, educational trips, scholarship assistance and socially impactful activities, all with the goal of creating safe and inclusive learning environments and nurturing college-bound, civic-minded leaders.

Since 2010, with support from Highmark, NEED has made strides in eradicating factors that lead to systemic poverty by creating optimal learning environments and giving students and their families the tools they need to succeed, both in and out of the classroom.

The program has also received ongoing support from families, churches, alumni, corporations and in-kind donations, which have enabled them to invest in a strong, successful and sustainable future for Pittsburgh youth and the Pittsburgh region’s economy.

With support from Highmark, NEED held tours and lectures at 20 historically black colleges, universities and historical sites. The organization provided dorm room supplies, including bedding, toiletries and towels to students to relieve some of the emotional and financial stress associated with obtaining essential resources.


Say Yes

Western New York

In its commitment to improving racial, health and education equity in under-resourced communities, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield has offered significant support for Say Yes, an organization in Buffalo, NY that provides scholarships and other student supports to further the educational opportunities of Buffalo Public School students. The organization was founded in 2011 by a diverse group of community leaders aiming to strengthen the economy by investing in the education of Buffalo’s future workforce.

When reflecting on the organization’s work with Highmark BCBSNY, Say Yes Buffalo CEO David Rust has said, “I’m grateful to Highmark for helping improve racial and health equity in Buffalo communities, and trusting and supporting the organization’s delivery of scholarships, apprenticeships and critical services to young people in the city.”

Say Yes continues to grow its impact each year through school-based comprehensive care coordination, health promotion, patient and family support and service referrals to local students in need. Say Yes Buffalo’s Career Pathway Program has employed dozens of interns to gain experience in fields such as technology, software and corporate banking since 2015, a testament to its commitment to enhancing the educational and career attainment of young people in Buffalo, and fostering opportunities for continued learning, success and community growth.