Literacy Buffalo Niagara, the region’s sole provider of free, one-on-one adult literacy services, today announced that it has been awarded a generous grant in the amount of $100,000 from the Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Blue Fund. The grant will be instrumental in launching Literacy Buffalo Niagara’s health literacy initiative and goal to improve communication systems and personal literacy skills for 150,000 area residents in need.

As seen from the COVID-19 global pandemic, promoting health literacy is a key component to public health, healthcare delivery systems and efforts to empower individuals and society to take an active role in managing their overall health and well-being.

“We are deeply grateful to Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield for this grant and for their continued support and partnership,” said Tara Schafer, executive director, Literacy Buffalo Niagara. “What we’ve been through as a community and as a direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic, we know that navigating the complexities of healthcare system by understanding the language of health ensures informed choices, fosters self-advocacy, and illuminates the path to a healthier, more resilient future.”

The primary objective of this grant is to empower parents and children with the essential skills and knowledge needed to navigate the increasingly complex digital landscape, enhance their health literacy, and improve communication within families. By focusing on these critical areas, Literacy Buffalo Niagara aims to help families and communities promote and maintain overall well-being.

Key initiatives supported by the grant include:

  1. Launching of a new “Literacy Corner” program through the distribution of books to 5,000 low-income youth in partnership with Oishei Children’s Hospital.
  2. Organizing a series of workshops and training sessions to help parents and children acquire digital literacy skills. These workshops will cover topics such as internet safety, using digital tools for healthcare information, and online communication skills.
  3. Creating and distribute new health literacy materials using the CDC’s Health Equity Guiding Principles and Best Practices, ensuring they are accessible and available in multiple languages.
  4. Partnering with Erie County Department of Health to launch a new public awareness campaign, share the new and accessible health literacy materials and maximize reach.