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Blue Shield of California Foundation Announces $5 Million in New Grants to Address Nonprofits in Crisis

Foundation focuses on core support, capacity building, and leadership development

San Francisco, September 2, 2009 - Blue Shield of California Foundation (BSCF) today announced more than $5 million in new grants and initiatives that will help provide critical health services to Californians in need while also strengthening the state's long-term healthcare capacity. 

Highlights from third-quarter grantmaking include new funds to help clinics weather the economic crisis, funding for CaliforniaKids, and a new effort to prevent violence in families of combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The Foundation will also invest nearly $2 million to support the Clinic Leadership Institute, its successful training program for emerging health clinic leaders. 

"Economic and budget realities are stretching California's health safety net like never before," said Crystal Hayling, president and CEO of BSCF. "This crisis reinforces our commitment to meeting the needs of today while also strengthening the safety net for tomorrow, by providing core support, capacity-building, and leadership development."

Strengthening California's Safety Net

The majority of new funds in this quarter are aimed at people and incorporate proven strategies: 

California's community health clinics are reporting record numbers of new uninsured patients while also dealing with unprecedented state and local budget cuts. To address this situation, BSCF will release up to $1.5 million for a new initiative that will help regional clinic consortia train and assist their member clinics on how to manage in difficult financial times.  

BSCF is providing nearly $2 million to the University of California, San Francisco's Center for the Health Professions to continue its highly successful Clinic Leadership Initiative (CLI). CLI trains emerging leaders in community clinics and health centers so that they become effective and passionate change agents in California's rapidly evolving healthcare environment. 

BSCF is granting $300,000 to the California Primary Care Association to ensure that policymakers have on-the-ground insights and input from California clinics when making decisions that impact the financing of the safety net. 

The Foundation is providing nearly $600,000 to cover premium subsidies for health insurance to 900 California families through CaliforniaKids. That program provides health coverage for children whose families have incomes that are below 300 percent of the federal poverty line and do not qualify for existing government programs.

BSCF also continues to strengthen California's domestic violence shelters through ongoing and direct core support. This is an especially important commitment given the deep cuts in state and local funding - and the tendency for economic stress to exacerbate the risk of family violence. Third-quarter grants include: 

The Foundation is granting $130,000 to the Nonprofit Finance Fund to provide customized "Tough Times Consulting" to help a dozen shelters manage immediate financial challenges. 

BSCF is also providing an additional $125,000 to train 100 domestic violence service providers with the skills that will help their agencies adapt to the current environment. 

Spurring Innovation to Lower the Risk of Violence in Military Families

"The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have demanded unprecedented service from armed services members and their families, and the consequences of multiple tours of combat can take a serious toll," Hayling said. "As California's top funder of domestic violence programs, we have a unique role to play in ensuring that returning veterans do not bring the violence they have witnessed and experienced back into their homes."

Toward that end, the Foundation announced just over $500,000 in grants to prevent and address domestic violence in military families, based on the recognition that policymakers and service providers lack education and information about how to prevent such violence. "The next several years present a unique opportunity for our nation to help military families heal after multiple tours of duty. BSCF will play a role in assisting those who have served," said Hayling. 

BSCF is taking a three-pronged approach to addressing this issue in California:

Research to document family violence trends among returning combat veterans through the Northern California Institute for Research and Education; 

Pilot programs to determine effective family violence prevention methods with veterans on college campuses, administered by the San Jose State University Research Foundation; and 

Outreach to raise awareness to prevent family violence for veteran families through the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Foundation. 

About Blue Shield of California Foundation

Blue Shield of California Foundation is one of the largest healthcare grantmaking organizations in California. For more information, visit: www.blueshieldcafoundation.org.  The Foundation was formed by Blue Shield of California, a not-for-profit corporation with more than 3.4 million members, 4,700 employees and 20 offices throughout California. For more information about the company, please visit www.blueshieldca.com.

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