Rochester, NY

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield announces 2022 Health Equity Awards Recipients

Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield announced today the recipients of its 2022 Health Equity Awards. The awards represent more than $560,000 in financial support for community programs that address racial and ethnic health disparities across its upstate New York service area.

"This second round of Health Equity Award funding will support underserved people with health disadvantages due to race, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender and/or rural disparities,” says Gina Cuyler, MD, Excellus BCBS vice president of health equity and community investments.  “We are proud to align our resources and efforts to partner and identify areas of collaboration with our local community organizations.”

Earlier this year, Excellus BCBS invited organizations to apply for awards of up to $30,000 each to help fund programs to improve health equity in communities of color, especially within Black and Latino communities. These segments of our community continue to suffer from health care and social disadvantages due to racism and discrimination. Award categories include, but were not limited to, improving the community’s physical health and mental health, reducing social disparities in health care, and ensuring access to health care services.

The funding from Excellus BCBS will support 21 nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations across the Rochester, CNY/Syracuse, Utica, and Southern Tier Regions. With more than 170 applicants, a comprehensive review process included input from individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences to assess each proposal. Grant recipients were selected based on clear, defined goals and measurable results for reducing health disparities and improving health equity.

Excellus BCBS Health Equity Award funding will support the following initiatives:


  • Agape Haven of Abundance: Youth Empowerment is a free community- based education program providing urban youth an opportunity to learn skills that support healthy development and aim to reduce at-risk behaviors.
  • Boys & Girls Club of Geneva, Inc.: The First Thousand Days program was developed to support families with newborns, meeting an important community need.
  • David's Refuge: Provides Mental Health Counseling services to improve health equity and increase support for full-time, unpaid family caregivers.
  • Encompass Resources for Learning: Created an alliance for Rochester youth from the EnCompass Future Ready program in collaboration with the University of Rochester Medical Center Department of Surgery, City of Rochester, and Black Men Achieve. The project will engage in 100 hours of educational, mentoring, data collection, and outreach programming to contribute to public health addressing community violence.
  • Ibero-American Action League Inc.: Centro de Oro (Golden Center) serves as an educational center and a home-away-from-home for seniors. The focus of the program is to address social isolation and improve well-being by offering both therapeutic services, and health assessments to link seniors with the resources and services they need.
  • Nativity Preparatory Academy of Rochester: The Extended Day Program seeks to enhance Nativity Prep’s academic programming by providing students who lack resources with after-school, weekend, and summer programs in a safe, nurturing, and productive environment.
  • Pivital Public Health Partnership: Mental Health Matters is a community education program designed to reduce health disparities by making mental health awareness and support a priority throughout our rural Finger Lakes communities.


  • Family & Children's Service of Ithaca: Funding will support Family and Children's Services workforce pipeline program to increase mental health providers in Tompkins County.
  • Home HeadQuarters, Inc.: Funding will support Home Headquarters windows and doors replacement program, that has been proven to reduce the rates of children exposed to lead based paint in the city of Syracuse.
  • Joseph's House for Women, Inc.: Funding will support the Joseph's House Health & Wellness program to expand and increase access to supportive mental health services for pregnant women currently experiencing crisis.
  • Liberty Resources, Inc.: Funding will support the addition of Liberty Resources reproductive health care for low income, uninsured/underinsured men, and women in Onondaga County.
  • On Point for College, Inc.: Funding will support mental health workshops for On Point college students and quarterly cultural competency mental health trainings for front-line advising staff.
  • Oswego Health Foundation: Funding will support Oswego Health's mobile mental health services allowing individuals with severe or persistent mental illness to live safe and secure lives independently in the community.
  • Refugee & Immigrant Self-Empowerment, Inc.: Funding will support the Syracuse Refugee Agriculture Program (SyRAP) in Oswego, NY.
  • Young Men’s Christian Association of Central New York, Inc.: Funding will support wellness services and assistance through health advocates for pregnant women, specifically designed for New Americans at the Northside Women's Center.


  • American Heart Association: The AHA will address the health of residents through Self-Measured Blood Pressure (SMBP) monitoring and a Hypertension Summit in rural Herkimer County towns.
  • ICAN: Launching a targeted initiative that focuses on racial equity by raising awareness about Evelyn’s House, educating staff, and elevating the voices of recent Evelyn’s House graduates by expanding their current Evelyn’s House Graduate Peer Support Program.
  • Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees: In partnership with MVHS and Centering Pregnancy, the program ensures that minority and under-served populations are able to access the appropriate education, healthcare, and prevention strategies in order to address maternal health for refugees and immigrants.
  • Upstate Family Health Center: The program brings Substance Abuse, Behavioral Health, and Primary Care together to provide a comprehensive plan to effectively treat a patient. It will result in a stigma free environment that allows patients to be seen without the worry of being seen going into a drug treatment center.


  • Arnot Ogden Medical Center: Expansion of their existing program will increase the number of attending physicians able to provide appropriate therapies to those suffering from substance abuse issues. The program expansion will bridge the gap between ER and long-term treatment/recovery, with better outcomes.
  • Foundation of the State University of New York at Binghamton, Inc.: Binghamton University will be opening a Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic to eliminate barriers to necessary care for underserved Southern Tier populations.

For the latest information on the health plan’s community investments and partnerships, members, providers and employers are encouraged to visit our community investments and partnerships page.

Joy Auch (585) 238-4374

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 1.5 million upstate New York members. The company's mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With more than 3,500 employees, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit


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