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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Awards Funding to Transform Health in Local Communities

Blue Cross commits nearly $450,000 through its Center for Prevention to help 18 organizations engage people in improving the health of their communities.

EAGAN, Minn., Jan. 14, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Engaged and involved community members are a key component to creating a healthier Minnesota. In recognition of this, the Center for Prevention (the Center) at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) has awarded funding to 18 projects that will be shaped through community input and participation. The funds, which total nearly $450,000, will be used to help organizations engage community members in authentic and culturally relevant ways.

"People matter when it comes to creating community change," said Janelle Waldock, director of the Center. "We know that efforts to change community health are more sustainable and successful when the people who are most impacted by the change are involved in the process."

The 18 organizations that have been awarded Engagement Innovation funding and technical assistance include: 

Frogtown Farm will expand its Community Ambassador program to engage community members in the continued development of the farm site design and programs. The farm will be a hub for a healthy food system that fills gaps in food production, storage, manufacturing, distribution and sustainability.

ICA Food Shelf will aid the Blake Road Corridor Collaborative in connecting with residents through one-to-one meetings and community-building events to prepare for upcoming re-development projects and to broaden the base of those involved in the planning of the Southwest light-rail line Blake Station area, and the transformation of Blake Road into a Complete Street.

Indian Health Board of Minneapolis Inc. will convene conversations to engage community dialogue about further developing urban farming and healthy food.

ISAIAH will organize its members from congregations to provide community input, meet with public officials and develop policy priorities emerging from the Minnesota Department of Health's health equity report.

Lake Street Council will engage business owners to promote development of the Midtown Transitway, aimed at increasing facilities for walking and biking to support the long-term vitality and prosperity of the commercial corridor.

Little Earth Residents Association will create a community-based comprehensive health survey that will establish benchmarks and set objectives for reducing health disparities in the South Minneapolis American Indian community. 

Metro Blooms will engage South Minneapolis residents using landscape design and storm water management practices to re-envision alleyways as attractive, ecologically functional spaces that are pedestrian and play friendly. 

Open Access Connections will engage their Generation 50+ group and grassroots outreach organizers to create healthy eating resources for the homeless and low-income community and work toward improving healthy food options in shelters and community meal programs.

Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association will work with Pillsbury House + Theatre, using public art installations  to promote active living, social connections, and culminate in a community-wide festival encouraging community engagement on bike and foot.   

Program in Health Disparities Research will implement a robust community engagement process and utilize obesity-related research findings to help mobilize disadvantaged communities and impact policy decisions.

Project FINE will use educational programs to engage immigrant and refugee populations in Winona County and form leadership groups that will work to address the community's health concerns.

Public Art Saint Paul, and the artist Seitu Jones, will create an interactive, public art project to engage St. Paul community members in civic dinner table conversations about food, food access and food justice.

Redeemer Center for Life will expand the reach of its youth Earn-a-Bike program through creative youth engagement and increased program capacity.

Sub-Saharan African Youth and Family Services of Minnesota will engage African immigrant women to encourage civic and community involvement in addressing physical and mental health, rights as individuals, and to promote community-wide health equity.

Twin Cities Mobile Market will engage community members to design a mobile grocery store to meet their needs and preferences, while working to make healthy food more accessible and affordable.

University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships will use the Tree Cookies and Mud Pies project to engage four Northwest Minnesota communities in the development and use of natural play areas.

West Broadway Business and Area Coalition will implement targeted community engagement strategies to identify key projects that will make it easier for residents to be active in its North Minneapolis neighborhood and support local business activity. 

YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities (YMCA) will engage the Somali/East African Community in the Twin Cities metro area to broaden their understanding of healthy living in the context of culture. This includes examining ethnic food consumption, exercise and fitness, and disease and illness, to promote a holistic understanding of health and wellbeing. 

"This funding allows us to work with organizations we haven't directly supported in the past," said Waldock. "These new relationships will help expand the conversation about communities' role in health and lead to better health outcomes across Minnesota."

There was a tremendous response to this opportunity and the Center received many high quality proposals that offered unique solutions to the challenges of transforming health in local communities. Funding was awarded through a highly competitive review process and is intended to catalyze existing projects by involving community members at a grassroots level. Information on these programs and their accomplishments will be updated periodically on  

About the Center for Prevention 
The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota delivers on Blue Cross' long‐term commitment to improve the health of all Minnesotans by tackling the leading root causes of preventable disease: tobacco use, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating. Funded through proceeds from Blue Cross' historic lawsuit against the tobacco industry, we collaborate with organizations statewide to increase health equity, transform communities and create a healthier state. Visit for more information. 

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota 
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota's first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today as a health company: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. Blue Cross is a not-for-profit, taxable organization. Blue

Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago.   

SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

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