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 As Illinoisans adapted to life in the ongoing pandemic, we continued to stand with our communities through community partnerships, grants, economic development and volunteer work.

Standing With Communities Through COVID-19 

More than 520 community-based organizations throughout the state received $12 million in grants and sponsorships through our community giving initiatives, including Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® and the COVID-19 Community Collaboration Fund.

Through our #VaccTogether campaign, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) combined efforts with public health agencies and community organizations to boost COVID-19 vaccine education and access, focusing on older people and communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

The campaign included expanding BCBSIL’s Care Van® Immunization initiative, awarding grants to 16 community-based organizations to provide access to COVID-19 vaccinations, testing and education statewide.

Chicago skyline shows #VaccTogether in BCBSIL building lights

In partnership with BCBSIL’s Care Van program, the Chicago Department of Public Health launched a mobile response team to immunize front-line essential workers against COVID-19.

Access Community Health Network provided COVID-19 vaccines and other services at two Blue Door Neighborhood CenterSM locations to better serve neighborhoods with limited access.

We also continued providing support through our COVID-19 Community Collaborative Grant Fund, established in 2020 to address the health, economic and social well-being challenges of Illinoisans affected by the pandemic. In 2021, $3.5 million was distributed to 175 social service organizations statewide focused on health care access, hunger, shelter and behavioral health, and COVID-19 health education and vaccine access.

Community member receives COVID-19 vaccine at neighborhood center vaccination event

 

A $20,000 grant to Herrin House of Hope aided its work fighting poverty in southern Illinois. The network of churches, businesses and volunteers helps residents meet basic needs, including daily hot lunches, GED classes, an auxiliary food pantry, thrift store, emergency housing, utility assistance and skills training.

“We depend on the compassionate spirit of our community members who donate their time and money to help those who are less fortunate,” says Pastor Troy Benitone, Herrin House of Hope’s founder and a leader at Community of Faith Church. “Add to that generous gifts from local civic organizations, businesses and partners, like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, and it is simply amazing what the Herrin community has done and is continuing to do.” 

Addressing Food Insecurity

Through our collaboration with Feeding America, we provided support to Central Illinois Food Bank, Eastern Illinois Food Bank, Greater Chicago Food Depository and Northern Illinois Food Bank. 

These organizations helped thousands of people experiencing food insecurity — including many for the first time because of the pandemic’s economic impact.

“Our partnership has provided fresh produce, protein, and dairy to people facing food insecurity, many for the first time, during a time of unprecedented need,” says Pam Malitoris, Central Illinois Foodbank’s executive director.

We also organized food box giveaways with the American Diabetes Association and Top Box Foods and farmers market events at our Blue Door Neighborhood Center locations. 

Community members choose fresh produce at a farmers market event

Volunteering in our Communities

Giving our time to support our fellow Illinoisans is an important part of living our purpose. More than 1,800 employees volunteered 45,537 hours with 923 organizations through the Blue CorpsSM program. BCBSIL donated $135,520 in matching funds to 136 of the community partners employees volunteered with. Employees also donated $264,553 through annual giving campaigns.

Yaqoota Aziz, BCBSIL’s 2021 Volunteer of the Year, logged more than 170 hours as part of the company’s Blue Corps of volunteers. Much of her volunteerism was through Tutoring Chicago and the Girls Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. “Education is really important to me and a fundamental cause of the discrepancies within the social determinants of health,” she says.

More than 100 BCBSIL clinician employees volunteered to aid local health departments and vaccination clinics during a COVID-19 vaccination push through Illinois Helps, an emergency system for advance registration of volunteer health professionals.

“COVID has impacted so many lives,” says Bernadette Engram, a registered nurse. “When they asked for clinical volunteers, I knew I had to step up and use my background to assist.”

Promoting Economic Opportunity

In June, BCBSIL opened a new 50,000-square-foot service center in Mattoon, where BCBSIL has had a presence 36 years. The new center has room for more than 300 employees, allowing BCBSIL to expand with 75 new positions.

BCBSIL also presented $5,000 donations to four local nonprofit organizations: Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, Mattoon Community Food Center and The Haven, an emergency shelter.

BCBSIL's new facility in Mattoon, IL

More than 520 organizations supported through grants and sponsorships

45,537 hours volunteered by 1,843 employees

$96 million in economic impact

Includes wages, taxes, benefits, real estate spend and charitable contributions

 

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