“In 2020, being a better partner for the people and places of North Carolina meant being nimble and embracing a willingness to change.”
John Lumpkin, MD, MPH
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation marked a major milestone in 2020 with its 20th anniversary. We’re proud of our ongoing investment in the health of North Carolina and the relationships forged in our communities through more than 1,150 grants, collaborations and initiatives, totaling $157 million. What traditionally would have been a year of celebration turned into a race to respond to an unfolding public health crisis and an opportunity to grow our commitment to equity.
Our mission to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in North Carolina became even more urgent in 2020.
122 grants = $13.8 million in 2020
The needs of our communities rapidly changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it became essential to adapt with them – without delay. The Foundation allocated $2.4 million to 89 grantees throughout the year so the organizations on the ground could continue to serve those who rely on them. We also took steps to ease reporting and documentation requirements for grantees, while streamlining the application process for new grants.
We’re inspired by our grantees and how they met 2020’s challenges in creative and collaborative ways. Of the many examples: Boone-based Hunger and Health Coalition navigated an increase in families seeking their services as their volunteer count decreased. Their solution? To convert their 30-year-old food and pharmacy programs into a drive-through setup to ensure the equitable distribution of food, medicine and pantry supplies.
This new reality is one in which the Foundation’s work for the foreseeable future will be related to the pandemic or its wide-reaching effects.
A Strategic Shift
COVID-19 widened the holes in our society’s safety net and put the disparities within our communities on full display. These became even more apparent with the killing of George Floyd, and the resulting widespread calls for justice, as the eyes of many were opened to the fact that individuals and communities of color live at the mercy of biased and unjust systems. Achieving better health for all who live in North Carolina will be impossible if we don’t first acknowledge this, and then – more importantly – do something about it.
In response, the Foundation shifted its strategy, while also assigning an initial $10 million in funding to more explicitly address structural racism and increase equitable opportunities for health. We asked for external feedback from grantees, peer funders, community stakeholders and subject-matter experts. We listened and received diverse perspectives and opinions from those directly impacted by, and working in and around, these issues. As we embark on our third decade, it’s their stories that inspire us to move forward in tackling the root causes of poor health and inequities.
To learn more about the Foundation, visit bcbsncfoundation.org.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation is a private, charitable foundation established as an independent entity by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina in 2000.