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Local Organizations Receive $134,000 through Excellus’ 2021 Health Equity Awards

by Carol Elizabeth Owens

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Health Equity Award logo. Photo from

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (Excellus) recently awarded seven Greater Rochester organizations with its Health Equity Award (HEA). The award provides nearly $134,000 in combined funding to the Rochester-based recipients.  

The 2021 HEA recipients are recognized and financially supported by Excellus for providing community programs that address racial and ethnic health disparities in the local area.  More than $388,000 HEA funds were granted across Excellus’ upstate New York service area, including Rochester.

The seven local HEA recipients are: Center for Teen Empowerment (Multi-Neighborhood Youth Organizing: A Racial Equity Antidote to Community-Level Violence); Empire Justice Center (Language Access Program); Mt. Hope Family Center (Building Healthy Children); Partners in Community Development (Black Indigenous People of Color [BIPOC] Parent Mental Health Project);The National Witness Project (The Witness Project of Western New York); Wayne County Action Program (The Empowerment Program);and YWCA (Health Equity through trusted community engagement program).

“Through these Health Equity Awards, we are honoring our pledge to invest in organizations that strive for equitable treatment and the elimination of discrimination for all people so they may have an opportunity to live healthier and more secure lives,” said Excellus BlueCross BlueShield President and CEO Jim Reed.

“We believe we have a duty to lead by example and inspire positive change within our company, our industry, and broadly in the communities we serve. This work furthers our commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Access, which guides us in all we do.”

According to information supplied by Excellus, Black and Latino communities continue to suffer from health care and social disadvantages due to racism and discrimination. Award categories include, but were not limited to, improving the community’s physical health and mental health, reducing social disparities in health care, and ensuring access to health care services.

Holly Snow, Director of Community Investments and Partnerships for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield said, “We are a nonprofit health insurer with more than 4,000 employees who call upstate New York their home.”

Snow added, “Improving the health and quality of life in the communities we share with our members supports our mission. By funding these local initiatives, we will improve access to care and advance specific health outcomes and improve health equity.”

The funding from Excellus will support 18 nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations across 39 counties of upstate New York. Grant recipients were selected based on clear, defined goals and measurable results for reducing health disparities and improving health equity.