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Independence Blue Cross Foundation awards nearly $1.8 million in grants

PHILADELPHIA, PA., Sept. 16, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Independence Blue Cross Foundation (Foundation) announced that it awarded 57 grants in southeastern Pennsylvania, totaling nearly $1.8 million. The grants target three primary areas: Bolstering the health care workforce, addressing health priorities, and building healthier communities.

"One of our top priorities continues to be supporting advanced nursing education, including focusing on programs that build future nursing leaders," said Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the Foundation. "We support our region's top nursing programs and have increased our funding to include doctoral level education."

The new grants complement funding the Foundation has already committed to that provides three-year fellowships to six Ph.D. students at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Villanova University College of Nursing through the Robert Wood Johnson Future of Nursing Scholars program. In addition, the Foundation is diversifying its Healthy Futures child wellness initiative with a new "Eat Right" partner and contributing to a number of smaller programs and organizations that promote wellness and health in a variety of ways throughout the region.

Bolstering the Health Care Workforce

In 2015, the Foundation awarded $1.55 million in grants through its health care workforce development program to help strengthen the nursing workforce through education, career development, and research. The Nurses for Tomorrow scholarship grants include $1 million to 22 regional nursing programs for undergraduate and graduate nursing students. The Foundation also awarded $450,000 in new nursing scholarship grants to six area nursing schools in support of nurses pursuing a Doctoral of Nursing Practice degree. In addition, the Foundation provides a summer internship program for 26 undergraduate nursing students who will spend 10 weeks working in a Foundation-supported community health center or in health services at Independence.

The Foundation is a founding funder of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars program and has committed $600,000 to a total of eight students over three consecutive cohorts to support transformational leadership in nursing through education, research, and policy.

Building Healthier Communities

Through its Building Healthier Communities grant program, the Foundation partners with community organizations offering programs that improve the health and wellness of the people of southeastern Pennsylvania. In 2015, the Foundation provided more than $185,000 in funding to 17 organizations, including the following new grantees:

American Heart Association: To help prevent cardiovascular disease in West Philadelphia;
Athlete Health Organization: To provide life-saving screenings and education to underserved student athletes;
Gearing Up: To encourage an active lifestyle for disadvantaged women through their Earn-A-Bike program;
Girls, Inc. of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey: To provide pregnancy and substance abuse counseling programs to Latina girls;
Girls on the Run Philadelphia. To promote physical, mental, and spiritual health to low-income youth;
Green Tree School: To teach social and emotional health skills to underserved children in grades 1-8;
Looking Ahead: To provide legal services and consultations to vulnerable populations;
Malvern Retreat House. To provide clinical services for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder;
Maternity Care Coalition. To launch a mobile maternity wellness program for low-income and minority women;
Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia. To provide nutritious meals and other health resources;
Mercy Neighborhoods of Philadelphia, Inc. To provide physical and mental health services for disadvantaged people;
Mercy Vocational High School Sisters of Mercy. To provide a nursing assistant training program for high school students who want to work in health care;
Penn's Village. To help older and disabled people live independently;
Saunders House. To engage elderly people in gardening and healthy food preparation.

Addressing Health Priorities

The Foundation increased funding for its comprehensive three-year, $3 million child wellness initiative Healthy Futures with a $25,000 grant to the Share Food program, which will provide healthy affordable foods to Healthy Futures school families living in low-income neighborhoods. Launched in August 2013, Healthy Futures offers programming in 25 regional schools, directly affecting more than 1,000 students and their families. Other Healthy Futures partners include The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Drexel University Garces Foundation, Philadelphia Freedoms The Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Union, and Vetri Foundation for Children.

About the Independence Blue Cross Foundation

The Independence Blue Cross Foundation is a charitable, private foundation, whose mission is leading solutions for a healthier community. The foundation targets the following areas:

Securing the Blue Safety Net. Supporting private, nonprofit community health center clinics that provide access to quality, affordable healthcare in medically underserved areas.

Bolstering the Health Care Workforce. Strengthening the nursing, primary care, and allied health workforce through education, career development, and research.

Addressing Health Priorities. Collaborating with wellness partners to tackle the region's most pressing health challenges; currently combating the obesity epidemic through the Foundation Healthy Futures Initiative.

Building Healthier communities. Partnering with community leaders and programs to address community health and wellness needs.

Learn more by visiting our website: www.ibxfoundation.org. Connect with the Independence Blue Cross Foundation on Twitter at @ibxfdn.

CONTACT: Ruth Stoolman Independence Blue Cross Ruth.stoolman@ibx.com 215.241.4807 (office) 215.667.9537 (cell)

Source:Independence Blue Cross Foundation