Beyond providing quality health insurance coverage for its 3.7 million members, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) has a strong commitment to serving the community through a variety of employee volunteer programs, financial support for community-focused partnerships, and separately, the work of the BCBSNC Foundation.
“Improving the health and well-being of our customers and communities is a promise that we put right in our corporate mission statement,” says Kathy Higgins, who serves as the president of the Foundation as well as vice president of Corporate Affairs for BCBSNC. She oversees corporate communications as well as all corporate-based philanthropic initiatives.
Ellison Clary, director of Charlotte community relations, describes some the company’s major initiatives made possible through BCBSNC corporate support:
u GO NC! Also known as Get Outside North Carolina, this program fosters healthy lifestyles by encouraging North Carolinians to get outside and get active through the advancement of North Carolina’s greenway systems, increased access to public bicycles and the overall promotion of outdoor physical activity. This includes the establishment of the Southeast’s largest bike sharing program in Charlotte.
u Charlotte B-cycle. This program supports a network of public-use bicycles for short-distance trips, making biking more convenient and promoting healthy lifestyles.
u Seventh Street Public Market. This public market celebrates the food culture of the Carolinas and promotes local and regional farmers, food artisans and entrepreneurs by providing high-quality, fresh, and affordable food from local farms and regional purveyors.
u Nourishing North Carolina. This statewide community garden program makes local, healthy food more accessible to people across the state by establishing or enhancing a community garden in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. During the past year, NNC’s community gardens have produced more than 10,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables, serving nearly 2,000 people. The participating gardens have also donated more than 2.7 tons of produce to food shelters and rescue organizations.
u Strive to Revive. This program has placed over 235 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) across North Carolina. The program is a partnership with the NC Council of Churches and the Red Cross and was inspired by Charlotte state Rep. Becky Carney’s 2009 heart attack at the North Carolina legislature. The availability of an AED probably savedCarney’s life.
u UNC Charlotte Chancellor’s Speaker Series. This series brings to Charlotte notable speakers such as Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, Michael Beschloss, Jeffrey Toobin and Charles Best.
The BCBSNC Foundation is a separate, independent, nonprofit which has invested almost $100 million in North Carolina communities since its inception in 2000. Through a combination of grant-making, multi-year initiatives and other programs, the Foundation supports the health and well-being of North Carolinians by focusing on access to health care and the creation of healthy, active communities.
“On the Foundation side, an area that we are very proud of is our work supporting the NC Association of Free Clinics and the associated local free clinics,” says Higgins. “There are several in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community that are providing services to the underserved and the uninsured. They are doing remarkable work for the people who need and deserve care.”