Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Awards $319,000 to Community Organizations Fighting Childhood Obesity


Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) formally recognized community organizations receiving financial support through BCBSRI’s BlueAngel Community Health Grant (BACHG) program at a reception last Wednesday. The BACHG program is BCBSRI’s cornerstone grant program, supporting nonprofit organizations working to address critical health issues in Rhode Island.  For the second year in a row, BACHG funding was directed toward agencies combating the critical issue of childhood obesity.

“We are very proud of the impact we see community organizations make through the support of BlueAngel Community Health Grants, and to see that impact continue to grow and expand each year,” said Peter Andruszkiewicz, President and Chief Executive Officer of BCBSRI. “In healthcare, we talk a lot about the need to work together to solve tough problems. It’s clear that these organizations share that commitment to collaboration. We are honored to support them in their work improving the health and wellbeing of children across Rhode Island.”

The following organizations and their partners will receive a total of $169,000 in BACHG funding in 2015:

·         McAuley Ministries. The Get Fit McAuley! program will encourage healthy lifestyles for the formerly homeless mothers and their children living in McAuley Village, as well as Head Start youth in the McAuley Village Child Care Learning Center. The program will include nutrition education, cooking instruction, and physical activity. McAuley Village will collaborate with Rhode Island College to design a fitness program that involves Rhode Island College athletes and includes access to Rhode Island College athletic facilities for program participants.

·         Newport County YMCA, (working in collaboration with the pediatricians at Aquidneck Medical Associates and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.) In this recently-piloted partnership, pediatricians “Prescribe the Y” to local children who are at risk for childhood obesity. Used in other states throughout the country, Prescribe the Y is a renowned physical fitness and nutrition program aimed at helping young people develop a love for exercise and an understanding of nutrition habits. A certified personal trainer will lead kids in exercise involving games and Y equipment. The program will also include family dinners at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center to involve parents in nutrition education. Upon graduation from Prescribe the Y, participants and their families will receive free, one-year memberships to the YMCA.

·         Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic. This grant will support an evidence-based obesity prevention program serving low-income families in Providence. The Healthy Active Children program will focus on improving nutrition, physical activity and parenting practices to help children and parents lead healthy lives. The program works to improve families’ dietary intake, physical activity and screen time habits.

·         Crossroads Rhode Island (with support from the YMCA Greater Providence and West Bay branches.) This collaboration will provide yearlong exercise and nutrition programming to homeless children at the Crossroads Providence Family Shelter, and also to youth residents at the Kingstown Crossings complex. The program will offer exercise sessions using XBOX exercise games, field trips to exercise areas and parks, and special health-focused activities that promote physical fitness and good nutrition. 

·         Education in Action. The Young Star ACTIVE-ists program will educate local middle school students about nutrition and obesity issues, and teach them how to create entrepreneurial solutions to the health and wellness challenges facing their peers. Once participants identify their solutions, they will build business plans around their ideas that include budgets, marketing plans, and materials. Through a culmination event, students will have the opportunity to present their ideas and business plans to an audience. 

·         Partnership for Providence Parks, in collaboration with the City of Providence’s Healthy Community Office, the Department of Parks & Recreation, and the Providence Children’s Museum. The Providence PlayCorps program utilizes parks to provide young people in low-income neighborhoods with free play, creative exploration and nutritious meals over summer breaks. The PlayCorps program is based on the idea that play is an effective way to build healthy bodies, healthy minds, and healthy neighborhoods. The program increases youth access to physical activities while also providing adult role models. 

In addition to these grants, BCBSRI awarded a total of $150,000 in transitional grant funding to the following organizations to continue the important work funded through last year’s BACHG program:

·         The Learning Community for their Not Just Gym physical activity program.

·         Ready to Learn Providence for their Let’s Get Moving initiative.

·         Thundermist Health Center for their Impacting Obesity Together: Woonsocket initiative.

The BACHG program awards local organizations that teach and support healthy habits, from better nutrition to increased physical activity. BCBSRI accepts and reviews proposals for the BACHG program once a year. Each letter of intent received is reviewed to determine compliance with eligibility and funding priorities. Grant award winners were notified in December 2014 with funding beginning in January 2015.

About the BACHG Program
The BACHG program was launched in 2002 and has touched the lives of more than 240,000 people in the state. The program is a key component in BCBSRI’s vision of enhancing the quality of life for Rhode Islanders by increasing the quality of and access to healthcare services. The BACHGs are made possible by the BCBSRI Community Health Fund, a corporate donor-advised fund of The Rhode Island Foundation.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is the state’s leading health insurer and covers more than 550,000 members. The company is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @BCBSRI, and like us on Facebook at


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