Press Releases

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Highmark announces $550,000 community investment to support five Organizations’ health-focused initiatives


  • Brings Blue Fund’s Total Local Investment to $3 Million

Latham, N.Y. (August 17, 2023) — Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York today announced $550,000 in Blue Fund grants to support five major health-based projects, led by local nonprofits across the Capital Region.

The annual grant program is designed to increase health outcomes and equity in the areas of behavioral health, cardiovascular health, health care workforce development, maternal health, and healthy children. Blue Fund’s total investment in local organizations and initiatives reached $3 million this year.

“Highmark’s 2023 Blue Fund investments are a continuation of our longstanding efforts to increase health equity in the communities we serve,” said Michael Ball, vice president, community affairs, Highmark Blue Shield. “The amazing organizations receiving Blue Fund grants this year have the ability to enact real change in minimizing the barriers to health, and we are proud to uplift their missions and further their collective impact.”

Today’s announcement was made at Bethesda House of Schenectady, Inc., a 2023 Blue Fund grant recipient, whose $100,000 award will support operations, outreach efforts, medical equipment and educational materials to the chronically homeless, medically complex, and economically disadvantaged community in Schenectady County.

Cara House is the culmination of many years of dedication from our staff, supporters and community leaders. Cara House will provide permanent supportive housing, emergency shelter and medical respite beds for the chronically homeless and impoverished in Schenectady County. With targeted medical care, re-entry and mental health programs available on-site, we will continue to do what we have always done — look beyond homelessness to see the unique potential everyone is capable of with the proper support. Cara House is an expansion of our belief in the inherent dignity of every human being,” said Kimarie Sheppard, Executive Director, Bethesda House.

Sheppard added, “We are so grateful to Highmark Blue Fund for their support in this vision. This award will greatly impact the quality of medical services we are able to offer this population and ensure the longevity of an enhanced medical care program for years to come. As the homeless population continues to age and experience medical complications, comprehensive care will be a necessary aspect of their case management and pathway to stability. We look forward to a meaningful, collaborative partnership with Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York. It is an honor to be a recipient of this prestigious award.”

Highmark BSNENY launched Blue Fund in July 2018, to support organizations and initiatives that work collaboratively to address key health areas and demonstrate enhanced measurable outcomes for the community. 

Below are the recipients of the 2023 Blue Fund Grants:

  1. Bethesda House of Schenectady, $100,000, to support Cara House operations, outreach efforts, medical equipment and educational materials to the chronically homeless, medically complex, and economically disadvantaged community in Schenectady County.
  2. Black Nurses Coalition, Inc., $100,000 to support Health Equity Now!, a program that will provide culturally competent health access, care, treatment, and advocacy directly to minority and underserved residents and communities to help eliminate healthcare disparities.
  3. Russell Sage College, $125,000 to implement mentor training to support ICAN (I Can Achieve a Nursing Degree), a program that empowers BIPOC high school students to seek nursing degrees, reduce the nursing shortage and increase the diversity of nursing professionals across New York State.
  4. Siena College, $100,000 to support Hotspotting, a health care method aimed at reducing costs while improving patient health and experience by identifying “super-utilizers” (those with frequent hospital visits or admissions), and provides hands-on, individualized interventions for patients with complex social and health care needs.
  5. South End Children's Café, $125,000 to enhance health equity for children residing in under-resourced communities facing daily violence by providing a safe, stable community space where children and youth learn, grow, gather, and play.

To learn more about Blue Fund, visit  

About Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York

Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York is a trade name of Highmark Western and Northeastern New York Inc., an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Since 1946, Highmark Blue Shield of Northeastern New York has helped millions of people lead healthier lives. Blue Shield offers a full range of insured, self-insured, and government programs and services covering businesses, families, and individuals, as well as dental and vision plans and stop-loss coverage. As a community-based, not-for-profit health plan, Highmark Blue Shield contributes significantly to organizations that strengthen and enrich the health of the community. 

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For more information, contact

Amber M. Hartmann

Learn more about Highmark’s Blue Fund

Find out more about Highmark’s plans for community investment in 2024.