By Kandis R. Fuller

Univera Healthcare announces the recipients of its 2023 Health Equity Innovation Awards. The awards represent more than $112,000 in financial support that the nonprofit health insurer is providing to community programs that address racial and ethnic health disparities across Western New York.

“At Univera Healthcare, our mission is to help people lead heathier more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care,” says Simone E. Edwards, DrPH, MPH, vice president of health equity and community investments. “We’re committed to community partnerships and using our resources to support initiatives that directly target health disparities, promote access to care, and address the underlying social determinants of health to help ensure everyone can reach their full potential.”

The funding from Univera Healthcare will support seven nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations across Western New York.

  • Daemen University — Health Equity Training: The program will provide cultural and linguistic diversity training for health care educators to develop authentic learning experiences to foster cross-cultural understanding among students and providers.
  • Houghton University — Mental Health and Wellness in Rural Higher Education: The program will support mental health and wellness counselors providing a series of events and programs aimed to help students develop positive behavioral health practices, learn about mental health issues, develop positive peer mentoring relationships and access to immediate counseling services.
  • Community Connections — Reducing Healthcare Disparities in Rural Chautauqua County: The program will address health disparities in rural Chautauqua County through their community health advocate and home companion programs, and support nurses and aids working with residents in their homes.
  • Buffalo Urban League — Maternal Health Empowerment and Education: The program will enhance minority women’s sense of empowerment through increased knowledge, advocacy for self and baby, access to all aspects of maternal health to promote positive outcomes, and reduce maternal morbidity and mortality rates.
  • Community Access Services — Community Food Pantry: The food pantry will offer comprehensive food and nutrition services and the purchase of food storage and preparation items, as well as fresh and frozen foods to supplement pantry choices beyond shelf-stable foods. CAS will also partner with FeedMore WNY to offer nutrition education workshops to pantry clients.
  • YMCA — Taking Action to Improve Health in New York State: The YMCA’s Virtual Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program: The virtual blood pressure self-monitoring program will provide community members with the tools, education, and guidance to better manage their blood pressure, while eliminating barriers such as transportation, mobility limitations, distance from health services, and childcare needs.
  • Healing Hub of NY, Inc. — BIPOC Peer Capacity Building: The program will increase the number of family peer advocates in WNY by providing support for individuals to engage in the peer advocate certification process and receive necessary supports around preparing for the exam and completing necessary training hours for certification.

For the latest information on Univera Healthcare’s community investments and partnerships, visit

Kandis R. Fuller, APR, is regional communications manager at Univera Healthcare.