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Blue Ribbon Foundation Announces Grant Awards for Fourth Quarter of 2009

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January 14, 2010

More than 8,000 regional residents will benefit

January 8, 2010, Wilkes-Barre PA- Community members faced some of the most difficult economic conditions in decades during 2009. Recognizing the need to keep health education and prevention services accessible, The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania made nine grants in December totaling $83,710 for programs that will assist more than 8,000 local residents.

“Many people across our service area continue to feel the strain of the economy,” says Cynthia A. Yevich, executive director of The Blue Ribbon Foundation.  “We feel very fortunate to be able to help our community health partners maintain much needed services for those who need help the most.”

Improving Access to Care

The Blue Ribbon Foundation’s Access to Care Grants help local organizations increase the quantity and/or improve the quality of health care services they provide to the uninsured and underinsured. Visual Impairment and Blindness Services (VIABL) of Monroe County received a fourth quarter Access to Care Grant to expand its free eye exam services.

VIABL, which opened an Eye Care Clinic in Stroudsburg in early 2009, will use Foundation funding to provide free eye exams to an additional 100 un- and underinsured individuals in the coming year.

Smaller Grants That Make a Big Difference

 Health and Wellness Mini-Grants up to $10,000 support projects that focus on healthy families and children. Eight such grants were awarded in the fourth quarter, benefiting residents in 11 of the 13 northeastern and north central Pennsylvania counties served by The Foundation.

The American Lung Association of Pennsylvania will use a Foundation grant to partner with 38 school districts in nine counties to deliver the “Tobacco on Trial” Program. The program takes a unique approach to anti-tobacco education by engaging students as jury members in mock trials, then encouraging them to participate in or start anti-tobacco programs.  The program will reach 7,500 students in grades 5 through 12 in Clinton, Monroe, Sullivan, Tioga, Lackawanna, Lycoming, Pike, Susquehanna, and Wayne Counties.

The Employment Opportunity & Training Center (EOTC) of NEPA received a Foundation grant to provide the “Incredible Years” Parent-Child Program to 60 families in Lackawanna County.  This parenting education program addresses the primary risk factors related to child abuse and neglect, and is designed to improve the safety and well-being of children ages 2 to 12 who live in high-risk environments.

Over the past five years, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Association for the Blind has seen a doubling in the number of newly blind individuals referred annually for help. A Foundation grant will help the agency expand its home-based evaluations and case management services for 135 newly blind individuals in Luzerne, Pike, Wayne and Wyoming Counties. The program will help them address the challenges they experience with daily living skills, self-care, transportation, and housing. 

H.A.N.D.S. of Wyoming County received a Foundation grant to transition 20 high-risk families currently receiving services from the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program into the agency’s Parents as Teachers program once NFP support concludes. The Parents as Teachers program will continue to provide these families with in-home visits by nurses and educators and developmental, vision, and hearing screenings for their children until they start kindergarten. 

In Luzerne County, Ruth’s Place will use Foundation support to begin a Mental Health Screening Program and increase early detection and intervention services for the homeless women it serves.  The grant will provide on-site psychiatric screenings to at least 88 women at the shelter and follow-up support services as needed. 

Susquehanna Health’s Children’s Bereavement Pilot Program is designed to fill a service gap in the Greater Williamsport area, where a recent assessment found that the closest childhood bereavement support services are one or more hours away. The Blue Ribbon grant will help provide counseling and support group activities to at least 50 children, and bereavement education workshops for 150 health and social service professionals who work with children. 

In Lackawanna County, United Neighborhood Centers, Inc. will use a Foundation grant to expand its ropes course into a comprehensive healthy lifestyles program. The program, Adventure Learning in Healthy Lifestyles, will serve 45 at-risk youth between the ages 13 and 18.  Teens will engage in structured physical fitness activities, nutrition education and problem-solving exercises to help develop and maintain healthy behaviors.

Finally, the Wyoming County Chapter of the American Red Cross received a Foundation grant to partner with local social service agencies to provide CPR/AED, Infant/Child CPR and First Aid training to 157 low-income individuals who might otherwise be unable to afford or access training.  

Find out More

The Blue Ribbon Foundation’s funding cycles run quarterly. For more information on funding priorities, application deadlines and eligibility criteria, please visit, and click on The Blue Ribbon Foundation tab.

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About Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania
Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association headquartered in Wilkes-Barre.  It offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to approximately 600,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.  The company’s mission is to provide innovative solutions that support more affordable health care, promote personal accountability for health and wellness, and offer superior service and partnership to employers, members, and providers.

Anthony Matrisciano
Phone: 570-200-6310