Health Plan Now Accepting Grant Requests for Initiatives that Support Community’s Greatest Health Needs

Buffalo, N.Y. — Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York announced that its Blue Fund is expanding efforts to address maternal health disparities.

Now accepting applications online through April 1, 2022, the local health plan will award grants to nonprofit organizations and initiatives that align with at least one of Blue Fund’s key health areas that support Western New York’s greatest health needs. Blue Fund’s other key focus areas include behavioral health, cardiovascular health, health care workforce development, and healthy children.

“We are continuously evolving our strategy to ensure we are addressing the community’s most urgent needs,” said Dr. Michael Edbauer, president, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York.

Pregnant women in the United States are more than twice as likely to die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth than those in most other high-income countries. And, according to data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), childbirth complications have been increasing specifically for women of color. The data shows that women in majority Black and Hispanic communities have a 63% and 32% higher rate, respectively, of severe maternal complications, than women in majority white communities.

“Every woman everywhere deserves equitable access to comprehensive maternal care regardless of their zip code. However, labor and delivery outcomes that result in significant consequences to a woman’s health often stem from racial and health disparities,” said Jennifer Johengen-Vogel, vice president, health management, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York. “As a board member for the Buffalo Prenatal-Perinatal Network, I know first-hand how desperately important efforts to support maternal health are.”

As part of its fifth annual Blue Fund grant cycle, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Fund will award more than $3 million in grants this Fall, giving special attention to projects that directly address racial and health inequities. Since the not-for-profit health plan launched Blue Fund in July 2018, it has awarded more than $11 million in Western New York.

“We know the health of our region depends on the health of every corner of our community. Our Blue Fund investments uplift organizations who can make a meaningful impact,” said Michael Ball, vice president, community affairs for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York.

Submitting a brief letter of intent (LOI) using Blue Fund’s online application system is the required first step in the grant-making process. Selected applicants will then be invited to submit a full application, with funding decisions announced in the fall of 2022. Blue Fund will consider requests for $100,000 to $300,000 grants from not-for-profit organizations in the eight counties of Western New York for initiatives that are ready to implement and demonstrate measurable community outcomes.

Organizations interested in applying are encouraged to review program guidelines and focus areas as they may have changed from previous years. Visit to learn more and to submit a letter of intent online for the 2022 grant cycle.