Healthy Together: Creating Community with New Americans is a grantmaking initiative designed to reduce health disparities for immigrants and improve the health and vitality of the entire community. The foundation awards grants to projects that foster exchanges and interactions between newcomers and the receiving community, strengthen the capacity of immigrant-led organizations and their attention to health, and address social adjustment and mental health.
The health of all Minnesotans, including our newest neighbors, is a product of many interrelated factors. Social, economic and environmental factors such as culture, education and income often play a significant and decisive role in health status. Research demonstrates that social connectedness is a key determinant of health:
Through Healthy Together, the Blue Cross Foundation explores, implements and evaluates strategies at the intersection of health, social connectedness and immigrant integration. It builds on the foundation’s grantmaking experience associated with helping people with unique cultural needs navigate the health care system.
Immigrant integration, which results in mutual responsibility, mutual change and mutual benefits, depends on a combination of individual human capital and social capital. Often measured by indicators related to socioeconomic status and language acquisition, it is influenced by the actions of organizations and institutions that shape the policy and practices in which integration occurs.
Healthy Together is a guideline-based grantmaking initiative that bridges our former funding priority, which helped people with unique cultural needs navigate the complex health care system, and our new focus on social determinants of health. Applicants may propose projects related to one of the initiative’s three objectives below. While the Foundation expects to make grants in each of these areas, please note that 2007 funding priority will be given to requests that address the first objective — fostering exchanges.
Please note: examples of grants for each of the following objectives are listed under the Grantees tab above.
The Blue Cross Foundation invites letters of inquiry for one-year planning grants of up to $10,000 for new applicants, or one- to two-year implementation grants of up to $100,000 for community, regional or statewide efforts for grantees who successfully completed a planning grant.
This funding strategy represents the most “upstream” component of the Healthy Together program. It focuses on promoting and facilitating exchanges among and between newcomers and the community-at-large. We define exchanges as interactions that encourage on-going transactions, engagement and relationships sustained over time. The foundation supports positive interactions between immigrant-led organizations, community and civic groups, as well as institutions representing community development, neighborhood improvement, education, faith traditions, business, culture, law enforcement, government agencies and others. Bringing together newcomers and the larger community builds knowledge and relationships that can promote opportunities for social connectedness and foster a true “two-way” integration, leading to more vital communities and better health for all.
The foundation also supports opportunities for collaborative engagement among recent immigrants and established neighbors around issues of common interest, enlisting all parties to work together equally to create a diverse, cohesive community that reflects social connectedness and promotes healthy living conditions.
This strategy includes efforts to build trust among new immigrants and social institutions. It also supports projects that enable immigrants to learn skills and acquire tools that help them fully participate in community life. Exchanges among immigrant groups build bonds around shared experiences and help those involved learn about and value skills, languages, cultures and transnational ties, thereby enriching the social and cultural fabric of the larger community.
Healthy Together supports planning grants to design effective exchange experiences with the long-term goal of creating healthier, more vital communities by improving quality of life and increasing opportunities for all. Building on successful models of civic engagement, the foundation works with the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs to provide training and technical assistance to help grantees develop the requisite skills and hone plans for this type of bridging work. Through a process of active peer learning and coaching offered by CDC coupled with strong planning outcomes, grantees become eligible for consideration for implementation grants.
The foundation invites letters of inquiry for one-year organizational development grants of up to $10,000.
The foundation helps increase the organizational capacity of groups or agencies that serve as bridging institutions between immigrant communities and the resident community. Newer mutual assistance associations and immigrant-led organizations tend to reflect the mission and cultural practices of their founders. Those in leadership roles often hold positions of great respect in their communities. At the same time, boards and executive directors may face challenges associated with organizational growth, fund development and management, changing regulations and unfamiliar nonprofit requirements and practices.
Specifically, this strategy is intended to support immigrant-led organizations — often the first and most trusted sources of assistance for new Americans — by enabling them to strengthen their governance, management and finances; increase their ability to work effectively in partnership with others; and build their capacity and infrastructure to sustain mission-driven work over the long term. We define immigrant- and refugee-led organizations as those with at least 51 percent immigrant and/or refugee representation on their board of directors.
Under this funding strategy, immigrant-led organizations may request up to one-year grants for capacity building in one or more of the following areas:
Organizations receiving capacity-building grants will participate in a learning network hosted by the foundation to promote peer education and shared learning. The foundation will also offer one-to-one coaching with an organizational development consultant on a case-by-case basis.
The Blue Cross Foundation invites letters of inquiry for one-year planning grants of up to $10,000 and one- to two-year implementation grants of up to $100,000 ($50, 000 annually) for community, regional or statewide efforts.
Studies in social adjustment indicate that the process of adapting to a new community takes time and is shaped by individual experience and access to social support systems. Although immigrants usually benefit from protective factors such as spirituality and strong family support, they face enormous social and economic factors that expose them to higher levels of stress and disadvantage due to poverty, unemployment, lack of English proficiency, discrimination and the trauma associated with the immigrant experience.
The cultural contexts in which people live influence the way they define and experience mental health and mental illness. Cultural factors can influence whether people seek care for their symptoms, what kinds of care they seek, and where they seek care (e.g., primary care providers, mental health providers, traditional healers or family members). Cultural factors can also influence how symptoms are reported as people express them in culturally based ways.
Immigrant communities are diverse, and each group has its own history, language, cultural norms and religious beliefs as well as perception of health and illness. This growing diversity challenges the mental health system and its providers to adopt culturally competent approaches to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment and to address barriers to appropriate and timely mental health services for members of immigrant communities.
This funding strategy supports planning and program grants to eligible organizations that propose to:
Grantees will be part of an initiative level evaluation conducted by Touchstone Center for Collaborative Inquiry, which the Blue Cross Foundation has selected as its evaluation partner. The purpose of evaluation is to document results, generate lessons for improved effectiveness and show progress toward the desired outcomes related to health, immigrant integration and social connectedness. Results will be shared with grantees, the foundation and other practitioners, funders and policy-makers. The evaluation will be operated on collaborative and participatory principles, providing opportunities for grantees and foundation staff to learn along the way through engagement in evaluation design, data collection and interpretation, and peer reflection. The foundation will organize joint learning opportunities on participatory evaluation in consultation with Touchstone.
For more information, download the Healthy Together program brochure (PDF).