HELENA — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) recently awarded four $50,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® (HKHF) grants to address social determinants of health.
Grants were awarded to the Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools, Families First Learning Lab, Riverstone Health Foundation and Rural Dynamics.
The HKHF initiative is an ongoing commitment by BCBSMT to invest in and partner with like-minded nonprofit organizations that offer sustainable, measurable programs to reach children and their families in the five following areas: nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management, substance abuse prevention, and suicide prevention. The goal of the program is to improve access to quality care and drive down the future cost of health care.
“We care deeply about the physical, social and emotional wellness of our communities, and we’re proud to invest in innovative organizations that support children and their families throughout Montana,” said John Doran, BCBSMT Divisional Vice President of External Affairs. “These efforts are even more important now, as our fellow Montanans grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it continues to have in all aspects of our lives.”
- Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools is a recipient for a second straight year, and the funding will continue to support Skyview High School’s mission to be a model Trauma Invested School that other high schools around the state and the nation turn to for guidance. Last year’s funding allowed Skyview to move its work from committee-level planning to school-wide awareness and activities. Leaders have identified five goals for the upcoming school year: 1, Continue staff training on trauma, resiliency and self-regulation; 2, Provide interventions that help students stay in school; 3, Collect data to connect improved social emotional health to higher grades, higher attendance and a reduction in behavioral issues; 4, Educate parents and the community on social emotional health; and 5, Share information with other educators at the district, state and national levels.
- Families First Learning Lab, based in Missoula, uses education, connection, play and partnership to strengthen families. Support from this grant will fund the White Bison's Mending Broken Hearts curriculum, which focuses on culturally-based healing on the Flathead Reservation. According to Families First Learning Lab, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes recommended the evidence-based curriculum to promote and assist in healing from unresolved grief and losses generated from historical and inter-generational trauma. Families First Learning Lab serves children and caregivers throughout Missoula and neighboring communities.
- Riverstone Health Foundation, based in Billings, is launching the Healthy Yellowstone County Teens program to help reduce substance use and suicide risk in youth ages 12-18, using a website, web-based advertising content, and downloadable presentation content. The website will be designed to provide information, connect youth to external resources, provide opportunities to engage further and promote prevention. Web-based advertising will be designed for the targeted demographic, using social media sites and traditional web advertising. Downloadable content will be free and will include presentations and printable materials for teachers, parents and other adults such as prevention professionals and youth group leaders.
- Rural Dynamics, based in Great Falls, also received an HKHF grant in 2019 and recently completed the first year of a pilot project to help Montanans become more financially astute, reducing the likelihood of financial stress and the health risks and costs associated with it. BCBSMT’s continued support will allow Rural Dynamics to continue working with key stakeholders to implement financial wellness prototypes developed through the design process in the first year, as well as expand the pilot to include smaller employers of 50 or less employees. Along with BCBSMT, Rural Dynamics is collaborating with Benefis Health Systems, the Center for Financial Services Innovation, the Institute for Research on Poverty, the Center for Financial Security and Great Falls Public Schools. Capital One Bank provided funding in 2019 to help launch the project.
Since 2014, BCBSMT has awarded more than $1 million through the HKHF initiative, which is a significant part of its larger commitment to all Montanans through community outreach. Each year, BCBSMT also contributes more than $400,000 in grants and sponsorships to a variety of likeminded nonprofit organizations, and it supports the Caring Foundation of Montana’s Care Van® program, which provides access to preventive health care services at low or no cost. With its headquarters based in Helena, BCBSMT also presents the Governor’s Cup, which hosts more than 4,500 participants annually in a variety of events, including the Kids Marathon program and in traditional races like the marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K and Fun Run. The purpose of the annual event is to promote the benefits of physical activity and community.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) is a division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSMT is the largest and longest-standing statewide, customer-owned health insurer and full-service health benefits administrator in Montana. BCBSMT believes that Montana consumers and employers deserve the best of both worlds — access to quality, cost-effective health care and superior customer service from a company that focuses solely on members. BCBSMT has provided high-quality health insurance plans and administrative services to Montanans for nearly 80 years. BCBSMT is committed to ensuring its members — no matter where they are on the health spectrum — achieve maximum health. BCBSMT’s mission is to stand with its members in sickness and in health.