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Excellus BCBS awards health grants to seven CNY nonprofits

DeWITT, N.Y. — Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) has awarded community-health grants to seven Central New York nonprofits.

Excellus, the region’s largest health insurer, chose the recipients from 242 applications. It awarded each nonprofit a grant of up to $4,000, according to a news release it issued on Monday.

The community-health awards support programs that have “clear goals to improve the health or health care of a specific population,” Excellus said.


The winning organizations will use the grants on activities that “improve the health status of the community, reduce the incidence of specific diseases, promote health education, and enhance overall wellness,” according to the Excellus news release.

Excellus awards its community-health grants based on “scope of need, goals of the program, number of people expected to benefit from the program, and positive impact on the community’s health status,” Dr. Arthur Vercillo, regional president of Excellus BCBS, said in the news release.


Grant recipients

The grant recipients include St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center Foundation of Syracuse, which will use the money to establish three indoor walking routes that hospital visitors, patients, providers and employees can use.

The foundation, which is “targeting obesity and physical inactivity,” plans to “mark, promote and provide incentives” for people to use the walking routes around the hospital’s main campus.

St. Joseph’s also plans to expand the program to other locations in the future, Excellus said.

A second recipient, REACH CNY of Syracuse, will use the funding for its Cribs for Kids program in Oswego County.

Partnering with the national Cribs for Kids program, the initiative focuses on “preventable” infant deaths, such as “accidental suffocation and dangerous sleep environments,” according to the Excellus news release.

The organization will provide cribs and safe-sleep education for low-income families in Oswego County.

A third recipient, the Dairy Council Health Foundation of Salina, will use its grant funding to implement Fuel Up To Play 60, a wellness program, at Dryden Middle School in Ithaca.

The program, which is designed to “help curb the national obesity epidemic,” helps students to make healthy food choices and to find time for 60 minutes of exercise each day, according to Excellus.

In addition, Clear Path for Veterans, a Chittenango nonprofit, will use its grant to offer five “holistic warrior-wellness workshops” for up to 20 participants in each session.

The sessions are open to all veterans, “especially for those returning from service in Iraq and/or Afghanistan,” according to the Excellus news release.

Each one-day workshop will provide “camaraderie, health and wellness” information focusing on “integrative medicine modalities” and a chance to relax.

The Excellus grant recipients also include Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency of Auburn, which plans to pay for a Head Start backpack program.

The program seeks to distribute close to 200 backpacks filled with “child-friendly, shelf-stable, healthy and easily consumable” foods to low-income children toward the end of every month when the family’s access to other food resources “may be exhausted,” according to Excellus.

Another grant recipient, Bike Walk Tompkins, located at the Center for Transformative Action in Ithaca, will use the health award for its “Safe Routes to School” program.

The goals of the community-based program are to improve youth biking and walking safety knowledge and skills, while “educating, encouraging, and supporting children in their efforts to walk and bike to school,” Excellus said

The health insurer also awarded funding to YWCA of Cortland to support the organization’s existing Model Moms educational support group for low-income mothers.

The YWCA will use the funds to provide educational materials and supplies to teach mothers how to cook healthy, nourishing meals for their families on a very limited budget.

The supplies will include a Crock-Pot, food items, and a calculator they can use for budgeting, Excellus said.


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