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Blue Ribbon Foundation Announces Grant Awards for Fourth Quarter

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December 15, 2010

More than 2,500 at-risk families will benefit

December 16, 2010, Wilkes-Barre, PA – Access to health care for the uninsured, screenings and education for low-income women, and drug prevention for youth are among the areas of need being addressed by grants just awarded by The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Seven grants were approved at the December meeting of The Foundation’s board, providing nearly $61,700 in funding to local nonprofits that will serve more than 2,500 individuals.

The Foundation awarded the grants to health care education and illness prevention programs in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. Each project met criteria under one of three grant categories: Health and Wellness Mini-Grants, Health and Wellness Impact Grants and Access to Care Grants for the Un/Underinsured.

"These grants will make a big difference in the lives of local families who are financially at-risk and facing health and safety issues," said Cynthia A. Yevich, executive director of The Blue Ribbon Foundation. "We are pleased to support local organizations whose programs provide much-needed services to these individuals."

Supporting healthy children

Pocono Services for Families and Children, the leading Head Start child care provider in Monroe County, will use a $6,500 Foundation grant to deliver health literacy training to 160 low-income parents and caregivers at four Head Start locations across the county. Nationwide, data shows families trained in health literacy experience a marked decrease in emergency room and clinic visits and miss fewer school and work days. Topics include At-Home Treatment of Common Childhood Illnesses, Reading Prescription Labels, Oral Health, Obesity Prevention, Asthma, and Health Promotion. 

In Lycoming County, Valley Prevention Services (VPS) will use $5,900 in Blue Ribbon Foundation funds to introduce "Too Good For Drugs," an evidence-based prevention and education program, to elementary school-aged children. Throughout the spring of 2011, trained educators from VPS will conduct 80 age-appropriate presentations targeting 250 second- and third-grade students in the county. The 10-lesson curriculum focuses on developing skills to resist peer pressures, goal setting, decision-making, managing emotions, effective communication, and social interactions. The program also provides information about the negative consequences of drug use and the benefits of a nonviolent, drug-free lifestyle.

Also in Lycoming County, The Blue Ribbon Foundation approved support for "Healthy Smiles," a dental education program for low-income children. Part of Lycoming County United Way’s Early Child Care Education (ECCE) initiative, the program will reach 800 children, ages 3 to 5, in preschool and child care settings across the county thanks to $8,430 in Foundation funds. A certified dental hygiene educator will deliver 50 one-hour educational sessions covering age-appropriate topics such as the importance of taking care of one's teeth, brushing, flossing and having a healthy diet.  All parents and caregivers will receive resource materials to help them reinforce good behaviors at home.

In Luzerne County, Volunteers of America (VOA) recently launched "Supporting Stronger Families" to promote the safety and well-being of Luzerne County children from birth to age 5. Through the program, families identified as high risk for potential child abuse and neglect receive home-based intervention to help achieve safety and stability. A Foundation grant of $7,000 will enable Family Support Coaches from VOA to meet with 60 such families three times per week, for 12 weeks, in the coming year. Services include parenting education, crisis resolution, and referrals for mental health screenings and substance abuse counseling. 

Access to care for the uninsured

In Carbon County, where 14 percent of all residents are uninsured, Blue Mountain Health System (BMHS) will use $11,925 in Blue Ribbon Foundation funds to expand its digital mammography and diagnostic ultrasound screening program to include an additional 85 un- and underinsured women referred by local physicians in the coming year.  Less than 3 percent of the 4,300 mammograms provided by BMHS in 2009 were for un- and underinsured women. 

Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC) will use $9,930 in Blue Ribbon Foundation funds to launch a breastfeeding education program designed to increase the number of breastfed infants among the un- and underinsured women the clinic serves.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who are breastfed have stronger immunity, lower rates of asthma and ear infections, and a reduced risk for chronic diseases and SIDS. In the coming year, a certified lactation consultant will provide 300 hours of instruction and educational materials to 150 new moms and their babies, from birth through six months. 

Blue Ribbon Foundation funds also will benefit the University of Scranton's Edward R. Leahy Center Clinic for the Uninsured, a free clinic that provides primary health care services to uninsured residents of Lackawanna County. Approximately 1,000 patients seen each year require medications, supplies or immunizations to comply with physicians' recommendations. A Foundation grant of $12,000 will enable the clinic to increase its available inventory of single-course treatments for acute episodic conditions, preventive treatments, lab supplies and disposable medical supplies.

 Find out More

For more information on The Blue Ribbon Foundation’s 2011 funding cycles, application deadlines and eligibility criteria, please visit www.bcnepa.com, and click on The Blue Ribbon Foundation tab.

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.

Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania established its private, non-profit Blue Ribbon Foundation in 2002 to invest in health education and prevention initiatives that produce measurable health improvements and help manage long term health costs for the residents of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.

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