Blue Cross Blue Shield of Ma Commits $107,000 for COVID-19 Community Relief

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (“Blue Cross”) recently announced its latest relief efforts to support nonprofits affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, including more than $107,000 to support organizations on the Northshore. Support includes:

 • $50,000 to the COVID-19 Relief fund at the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

• $10,000 to Lynn’s Leading through Empowering Opportunities (LEO Inc.)

• $47,000 to Project Bread

“The pandemic has dramatically heightened the vulnerability of low-income households. Every day we talk with more people who are desperate to pay rent or find and buy groceries,” said Birgitta S. Damon, CEO of LEO Inc. “Housing instability, food insecurity and the scarcity of diapers and cleaning supplies are insurmountable obstacles for more and more families and individuals. LEO is committed to working in our community with kindness and respect, providing people with tangible resources to meet their basic needs, and support from Blue Cross and other foundations and individuals in our community helps make that possible.”

 Since the emergence of the COVID-19 crisis, LEO Inc. has been processing an unprecedented number of applications for emergency assistance for rents and mortgages and expanded over-the-phone intake appointments by 43% to handle the growing need for heating and utility assistance. The organization has also distributed more than 800 lots of groceries and supplies to families living in poverty, including diapers and wipes for families with young children, and income-qualified senior citizens. And to support education needs, LEO is ensuring families enrolled in their Early Head Start and Head Start Child Development Programs have resources like books and activity packets to keep kids busy at home.

 The contributions to LEO Inc. and other area organizations are part of a broader statewide effort consisting of $250,000 in direct contributions to support COVID-19 relief efforts across Massachusetts and the reallocation of more than $1.75 million in community investments and strategic sponsorships to expedite unrestricted cash to help nonprofits meet operational challenges.

“We’re committed to doing everything we can to help our nonprofit partners during these trying times,” said Jeff Bellows, vice president of corporate citizenship and public affairs at Blue Cross. “That includes honoring our sponsorships for events that may have been cancelled, enabling our community partners to use funds to address their greatest needs and reallocating dollars we had earmarked for strategic initiatives to provide relief grants to organizations that are helping people stay healthy during this public health emergency.”

As part of its commitment, Blue Cross is implementing the following support (with additional efforts to rollout over the coming weeks and months):

 • Committing $550,000 in relief grants to nonprofits across the Commonwealth frontline aid including access to food, basic needs and critical support for first responders, health care and retail workers. The funds, which were previously reserved for Blue Cross’ Healthy Living Accelerator Grants, will be distributed in two phases: $275,000 will be distributed this spring in $10,000 – $15,000 grants to 22 nonprofits and the other half, later this fall, when organizations have reassessed their greatest needs.

• Lifting funding restrictions on $520,000 of committed funds to ensure nonprofits have the flexibility to address critical challenges. An example includes shifting the company’s Project Bread funding to support its Covid-19 program that ensures students across the Commonwealth still have access to breakfast and lunch during school closures.

• Instituting a matching gift program for all employee donations to any Massachusetts nonprofit. Total is currently at $134,000 and the program will remain open through May 13.

• Launching several virtual volunteer initiatives including remote skills-based volunteering, college mentoring with Strive for College, warm wish notes with Cradles to Crayons, virtual storytelling with Message of Hope, sewing facemasks for local health care workers and donating blood through the Red Cross.

• Partnered with MassINC to run a four-part tracking poll measuring Massachusetts residents’ levels of understanding and compliance with public health measures.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (bluecrossma.com) is a community-focused, tax-paying, not-for-profit health plan headquartered in Boston. We are committed to the relentless pursuit of quality, affordable health care with an unparalleled consumer experience. Consistent with our promise to always put our members first, we are rated among the nation’s best health plans for member satisfaction and quality. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

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