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Blue Shield of California Provides $300,000 to Support Youth Development, Social Justice, and Health Equity in Communities of Color

Nonprofit health plan supports 12 community-based organizations that address challenges facing young Californians

OAKLAND, Calif. (May 7, 2021) – Blue Shield of California today announced $300,000 in community investments to nonprofit organizations that advance the health and well-being of youth and communities of color. The funding supports initiatives focused on youth development, social justice, and health equity.

grant social justice

Twelve organizations – six in the San Francisco Bay Area and six in the Inland Empire region of Southern California – will each receive $25,000 for a range of initiatives, including art programs, mentorship, technology training, housing, and social justice activism.

The announcement coincides with today’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, as well as May’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and builds on the work of Blue Shield’s signature BlueSky youth mental health initiative. Blue Shield created BlueSky because youth mental illness is a pressing issue that demands early intervention: it’s the number one reason California children are hospitalized, and half of all lifetime cases begin by the age of 14. 

“These organizations are taking on hard challenges and finding new, innovative ways to inspire Black, Hispanic, Asian and foster youth to live their healthiest, most productive, and fulfilling lives,” said Kimberley Goode, senior vice president of External Affairs, Blue Shield of California. “As a nonprofit health plan whose goal is to help improve the health and well-being of all Californians, Blue Shield is honored to collaborate and provide our support.

Local nonprofits are key to building a healthier California as they work to break down barriers to well-being and economic opportunities and reduce stigma around mental health,” Goode added. “Blue Shield selected this diverse group of organizations, who are trusted experts, working on the ground in their communities to drive meaningful change.” 

The organizations receiving funding are:

San Francisco Bay Area

Inland Empire Region

“Most foster youth in California have no source of income when they ‘age out’ and are expected to make it on their own,” said Dontae Lartigue, CEO and co-founder, Razing the Bar in San Jose. “We have to be proximate, intentional, and be able to invest time in young people -- the way we would provide for our own children. When we do this as a community and as a system, that is when young people will thrive. We are grateful for Blue Shield’s support to help us reach even more youths in need.”

“This funding couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Pepi Jackson, president of the Riverside County Black Chamber of Commerce, which supports the Building Resilience in African American Families organization. “It will immediately help us to increase the character building services we provide to our young girls and boys who live in some of the most vulnerable communities in the Inland Empire. Thank you, Blue Shield!” 

Blue Shield Takes Action for Mental Health Awareness Month

In addition to funding these community organizations, Blue Shield of California is engaged in several initiatives during Mental Health Awareness Month that are aimed at raising awareness about resources and reducing stigma.  Activities include:

  • Participating in MTV’s Mental Health Day of Action on May 20th which aims to meet the needs of our communities and to identify opportunities to build long-term resilience. 
  • Teaming up with the Child Mind Institute on a series of mental health guides for parents and their "Getting Better Together" campaign. 
  • Sponsoring the “Directing Change Program and Film Contest” virtual awards ceremony that honors diverse youth filmmakers throughout California.
  • Supporting H.R. 721 - the Mental Health Services for Students Act of 2021 – If approved, this federal legislation would provide grants for comprehensive, school-based mental health programs that address suicide prevention, trauma, grief and violence, and promote partnerships between schools and family- and community-based resources.

Today’s announcement and the BlueSky program also embody Blue Shield of California’s shared commitment to youth mental health with our state and local government partners. Our investments can synergize with Governor Newsom’s $400 million state budget proposal for Medi-Cal to fund infrastructure and capacity to increase the number of K-12 students receiving school-based behavioral health services.

Since Blue Shield’s BlueSky initiative launched in 2019 it has funded more than 6,700 youth counseling sessions in 20 middle and high schools in San Diego and Alameda Counties, and supported Youth Mental Health First Aid training for more than 2,000 educators statewide. 

About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of its family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Shield Association with over 4.5 million members, over 7,500 employees and more than $21 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare healthcare service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $150 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation in the last four years to have an impact on California communities.

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