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BCBSMT Awards $50,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® Grants to Four Nonprofits Committed to Health of Montana's Children

Oct. 19, 2016

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.

Miles City’s oneHealth, Bozeman’s Thrive, Project ECHO in Billings and the Montana Conservation Corps will use these grants to expand outreach efforts in their respective communities. All four organizations were recently 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 2016, BCBSMT received 20 applications for HKHF grants and each was evaluated by a committee on the basis of impact, feasibility, capacity, collaboration and sustainability.

  • oneHealth, a community-based, outpatient primary health care center designed to serve Custer County and other communities in eastern Montana, will use the money to promote health and wellness in schools. Registered nurses will attend the Zero Suicide Academy, a two-day training for senior leaders of health and behavioral health care organizations that seek to dramatically reduce suicides among patients in their care. Using the Zero Suicide framework, nurses will incorporate promising practices into direct care of students and into the processes to improve care and safety for children at risk. Nurses will also work with schools on policy development and training; and on implementation, evaluation and outcomes related to physical and mental health.
  • Thrive is a grant recipient for the second consecutive year. The 29-year-old Bozeman organization focused on engaging parents and empowering children will again 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.
  • Project ECHO – which stands for Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes – is a collaborative medical education and care management model that empowers clinicians in remote settings to deliver better care to more people locally. By teaming together local providers with experts from around the state and region, Project ECHO serves as a virtual medical rounds, where doctors, nurses, specialists and social workers can discuss cases and prescribe the best form of treatment. In Billings, the ECHO model focuses on research-validated and clinical-based methods to treat addictions and behavioral health issues. Through Project ECHO, Billings Clinic is currently piloting the program with the Rimrock Foundation and the Montana Department of Corrections.
  • Founded in 1991, Montana Conservation Corps is a statewide organization that employees 35 people and brings youth together to work on conservation projects as a means of helping them develop as individuals, leaders and citizens. MCC helps participants develop leadership, communication, teambuilding, service, citizenship and stewardship skills. The group intends to use the HKHF grant to serve more youth between the ages of 13 and 18. Currently, only 30 percent of the 450 children served are teens. By emphasizing outreach to that age group, the MCC hopes to increase that percentage to 70 percent and a total of 1,000 children by 2020.

Last year alone, BCBSMT awarded hundreds of sponsorships and grants to organizations throughout Montana totaling more than $500,000 and its employees committed more than 7,000 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 second Saturday in 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 physical fitness. Since that event's inception in the mid-1970s, more than 125,000 participants have crossed the finish line.