Giving back to the community is something many businesses do. But Florida Blue has made supporting local nonprofits and community organizations essential to fulfilling its mission of helping people and communities achieve better health.
In recent years, as the local Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, Florida Blue and its foundation have invested approximately $1.5 million in Sarasota and Manatee organizations to support at-risk youth, combat food insecurity, provide free water safety classes to children, enhance mental health support and other essential programs.
“We are working diligently to address key factors that impact health and the quality of life in the communities we serve through our work with local nonprofits,” explained Nick Kouris, Florida Blue market leader for Southwest Florida. “We believe in order to be a good community partner, it’s essential to listen and work collectively alongside local organizations toward making a meaningful impact.”
Cutting wait times for at-risk youth and family support
Centerstone is one of the local organizations benefiting from the Florida Blue Foundation’s community initiatives. Gemma Clayson, Centerstone’s director of communitybased programs, said Sarasota has many resources for youth and families struggling with mental health issues, but high demand causes long waitlists for support services.
“If you have a child waiting for intensive services, in the meantime, they’re continuing to struggle in school. They might be frequently running away from home. They may still be exposed to trauma,” said Clayson.
Thanks to a mental well-being grant from the Florida Blue Foundation, Centerstone has launched a Family Connections program focused on preemptive support of at-risk youth that cut the wait times to under two weeks that previously could be as long as six months.
Meeting essential needs when crisis strikes
When the demands on local nonprofits spiked last year due to the pandemic, Florida Blue immediately connected with nonprofits addressing essential needs in the community to offer support. The local Blue Cross Blue Shield plan provided 125,000 meals to All Faiths Food Bank, donated a combined $50,000 to the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida and The Senior Connection Center to help seniors in Sarasota, Manatee and other local counties, and supported other organizations addressing the community’s critical needs.
More than a year later, the toll of the pandemic continues to burden many working families as they face the possibility of homelessness due to evictions, prompting Florida Blue to collaborate with United Way Suncoast to find a solution.
Manatee and Sarasota county residents can benefit from a rental assistance navigator at Gulf Coast Legal Services who is focused on identifying available resources for emergency rental assistance, understanding recent legislation and initiatives impacting renters and homeowners, and serving as a resource for other local nonprofits and support organizations.
Committed to the community and good health
More than 6.5 million Floridians have received services as a result of Florida Blue and its foundation’s community investments since the foundation was created 20 years ago.
“Good health is a right, not a privilege. No one’s health should suffer because they are disadvantaged due to environmental, economic or social conditions,” said Kouris. “Florida Blue and our foundation are committed to bringing like-minded organizations together with a common goal – improving the health of our *Source: Department of Health and Human Services communities.”