BCBSMT Awards $50,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® Grants to Four Organizations Committed to Health of Montana's Children
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana recently awarded four separate $50,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® (HKHF) grants to organizations across the state that share BCBSMT's vision to improve the health and wellness of the state's children.
Helena's Kay McKenna Youth Foundation, Bozeman's Thrive, Missoula's Western Montana Mental Health Center and Billings' Riverstone Health Foundation will use these grants to expand outreach efforts in their respective communities. All four organizations were notified of their winning grant proposals at surprise check presentations.
HKHF is a signature program of BCBSMT and is part of an ongoing commitment to invest in or partner with nonprofit organizations that offer sustainable, measurable programs to reach children and their families. The initiative has five focus areas — nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management, supporting safe environments and suicide prevention. In 2015, BCBSMT received 29 applications for HKHF grants and each was evaluated by a committee on the basis of impact, feasibility, capacity, collaboration and sustainability.
"We're proud to support the communities we serve and it's exciting to know these grants will help like-minded organizations improve the health and well-being of Montana's children and families," BCBSMT Director of Public Relations John Doran said. "We value the important work these and many other organizations are doing every day and recognize the important role we can play to advance our shared vision through charitable giving and direct action."
- The Kay McKenna Youth Foundation intends to expand and improve the Kay's Kids Summer Recreation Program. Sponsored by the Kay McKenna Youth Foundation and administered by the City of Helena Parks and Recreation Department, the program provides non-competitive sports activities, arts and crafts, guest speakers, safety training, nutritious lunch or snacks, and a safe environment for kids to go each weekday. It's free and open children ages 6–13. While providing a safe and enjoyable environment for disadvantaged children and at-risk youth is of vital importance, all children are welcome.
- Thrive, a 28-year-old Bozeman organization focused on engaging parents and empowering children, will use the support to enhance the Partnership Project to Strengthen Families. The project is focused on providing services to high-risk teen or young parents with children ages 0–5. The services include providing parent education and support, health, mental health and child care services though collaboration with Gallatin City-County Health, and a network of mental health and child care providers. Founded in 1986, Thrive serves more than 8,800 individuals each year through its varied programs.
- Western Montana Mental Health Center (WMMHC) will channel the grant to the Child and Family Service Network, a division of WMMHC founded in 1997 in response to the Missoula area's growing need for mental health services to support children, adolescents and their families. The network's goal is to help youth and families manage the hardship brought about by mental illness. As the need for its services swells, this grant will help the Child and Family Service Network strengthen its programs. The WMMHC has been providing mental health services to Montanans since the organization's founding in 1942.
- Riverstone Health Foundation won the grant on behalf of the Health By Design Coalition, which will use the money for the Health Champions program to improve the health of residents in Yellowstone County by increasing lifestyle-based physical activity of children and families. The focus of the program will be on middle school and high school students and it's estimated that the Healthy Kids, Healthy Families funding will help serve 1,400 children and 125 adults during the grant cycle. Riverstone Health will work in concert with Montana Amateur Sports to implement the Health Champions program, which will not duplicate the work of Montana Amateur Sports' highly successful Fit Kids Club, but instead operate in tandem.
The Healthy Kids, Healthy Families initiative is one way BCBSMT continues to serve the state of Montana.
Last year alone, BCBSMT awarded hundreds of sponsorships and grants to organizations throughout Montana totaling more than $500,000 and nearly 250 employees committed more than 4,500 volunteer hours. Employees also donated more than $38,000 to the 2014 United Way Giving Campaign, helping 31 nonprofit agencies in Helena alone. BCBSMT's Care Van mobile outreach program, meanwhile, partners with public health officials, community clinics and other practitioners to administer vaccines, with the goal of maintaining and increasing vaccination rates and providing important health information. And every June, BCBSMT presents the Governor's Cup marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K, and Kids Marathon and Fun Run in Helena to promote the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices. Since that event's inception in the mid-1970s, more than 125,000 participants have crossed the finish line.