Press Releases

Monday, February 19, 2024

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield 'Blue Fund' open for 2024 grant requests

  • Health Plan Accepting Proposals for $100k-$300k to Support Initiatives that Support Community’s Greatest Health Needs

Buffalo, N.Y. (February 19, 2024) — Through Highmark Bright Blue Futures charitable giving and community involvement program, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is accepting Blue Fund grant requests for 2024 funding through March 18, 2024.

Today’s announcement marks the seventh annual Blue Fund funding cycle for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Selected organizations will join 77 others that received a total of $19.6 million since Blue Fund launched in 2018.

For 2024, the local health plan will award grants ranging from $100,000 to $300,000 to nonprofit organizations and initiatives that align with at least one of Blue Fund’s key health areas. These include behavioral health, cardiovascular health, health care workforce development, healthy children, and maternal health.

“Through Blue Fund, we uplift organizations and the incredible work they are doing to make meaningful and lasting impacts in our community,” said Michael Ball, vice president, community affairs for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. “A key component of what we look for in grant proposals is how Highmark’s funding will further amplify efforts to address racial and health inequities in all corners of Western New York.”

Community Health Centers of Buffalo received a grant in 2022 for the renovation, expansion, and programming for its center in Lockport, which addresses behavioral health for community members.

“The support provided by the Blue Fund was critically needed to complete renovations for our new Lockport center. When the Main Street location opens in May 2024, there will be expanded access to comprehensive, affordable health care,” said Dr. Arvela R. Heider, Chief Innovation Officer for the Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. This includes integrating behavioral health services with primary care to address the unmet needs for children and adults across the Eastern Niagara region.”

Another project that has made significant strides since receiving a Blue Fund grant in 2021 is Project Stork, Inc., a woman-founded organization that addresses maternal mental health inequities that exist in the rural, low income, and under-served population of both Orleans and Genesee County. Through Blue Fund, the organization’s goals to provide direct support to families with maternal behavioral health concerns, prenatal and postpartum transportation barriers, as well as provide monetary assistance for supplemental basic needs for infants became a reality.

"The Blue Fund has been remarkable. The community impact that we have made would have never been possible without Highmark behind us, supporting, encouraging, and rooting us on. We look forward to continuing a relationship with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield,” said Jenny Staebell MSEd, BSHS, CLC, CBEd, BD, PMH-C, Founder of Project Stork Inc.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield supported the Neighborhood Health Center through Blue Fund in 2021 and that enabled the organization to expand its population health care management model and better serve high-risk patients. This included its ability to co-locate its Behavioral Health Department, Community Health Workers, and Wellness Department to a new space at 1569 Niagara Street in Buffalo.

“The Blue Fund investment has helped Neighborhood Health Center expand access to much needed primary care and behavioral healthcare in West Buffalo,” said Joanne Haefner, Neighborhood Health Center of WNY President and CEO. “Our Riverway location on Niagara Street near Forest Avenue opened in 2022, and we have supportive care teams working out of that location to better serve the most high-risk patients, thanks to the Blue Fund.”

Representatives from the health plan shared that initiatives must be ready to implement and demonstrate measurable community outcomes in Western New York.

Submitting a brief letter of intent (LOI) using Blue Fund’s online application system is the required first step in the grant-making process. Selected applicants will then be invited to submit a full application, with funding decisions announced in the fall of 2024.

Organizations interested in applying are encouraged to visit Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Fund website.  

About Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western 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 1936, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York has helped millions of people lead healthier lives. Highmark Blue Cross 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 Cross Blue Shield contributes significantly to organizations that strengthen and enrich the health of the community. 

For more information, contact

Amber Hartmann