Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Awards $286,000 to Community Organizations Combatting Childhood Obesity

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PROVIDENCE, RI – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) recognized a slate of community organizations receiving financial support through BCBSRI’s BlueAngel Community Health Grant (BACHG) program. The BACHG program is BCBSRI’s signature giving effort, supporting nonprofit organizations working to address critical health issues in Rhode Island. For the third year in a row, BACHG funding was directed toward agencies combating the critical issue of childhood obesity.

“The consequences arising from childhood obesity are serious, complex, and can be long lasting. Blue Cross recognizes this as a serious public health concern, but we know we can overcome this epidemic through the facilitation of creative, wellness initiatives focused on young people and their families,” said Carolyn Belisle, Managing Director of Community Relations at BCBSRI. “Blue Cross is fortunate to partner with organizations working on the front lines across the state to make Rhode Island’s children healthier and our communities stronger.” 

The following organizations and their partners will receive a total of $141,000 in BACHG funding in 2016: 

  • Beat the Streets, Providence. The BACHG grant will launch the inaugural “Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthy Champions” program, using wrestling as a foundation for teaching healthy habits and providing emotional supports to middle school students in underserved neighborhoods. Through wrestling, Beat the Streets provides at-risk youth with lessons on the mat, support in the classroom, and strong mentors to guide them towards long term success. The program will offer weeknight and weekend fitness training for 100 young people at the Davy Lopes Recreation Center.
  • Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket. Through its BACHG, the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket will aim to build healthy lifestyle habits for 600 youth clients through activities both after-school and during the summer, including a Healthy Habits/Let’s Get Cooking elective, a Let’s Get Growing nutrition program, Triple Play, SMART Programming, Individualized Fitness Plans and Gardening electives. Youth will be surveyed on fitness through the club’s National Fitness Competition to measure results.
  • Boys & Girls Club of Providence. The BACHG will support Soccer for Success, a program designed to teach young people healthy habits and life skills through the game of soccer. The program will engage 250 youth at six sites around the city. Founded by the U.S Soccer Foundation, Soccer for Success has become a national movement—more than 555,000 children have participated in the program in more than 130 cities. The program uses soccer as a tool to address children’s health issues while promoting wellness in urban under served communities.
  • Farm Fresh Rhode Island. The BACHG will enhance the Healthy Foods,Healthy Families program, which empowers low-income Rhode Island families with the tools to shop for and cook affordable fresh foods through a series of hands-on activities, offered in English and Spanish, at the farmers market. Healthy Foods, Healthy Families staff engage families while providing free samples, games, recipes, financial incentives, and giveaways. The BACHG support will help Farm fresh Rhode Island reach a proposed 2,100 children and their families, with a focus on families receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). 
  • Recycle-A-Bike. The BACHG will expand Recycle-A-Bike’s successful“Pedal Power” program, which teaches youth participants about the health benefits of cycling and outfits them with a bike if they cannot afford one of their own. The Pedal Power program is widely recognized for engaging young people in the fun of bicycling while also teaching them the skills to be safe on the road. The BACHG will enable Recycle-A-Bike to offer Pedal Power year-round to youth in Providence through four-week, school-based programs offered as gym class electives or as after-school training.
  • South County Food, Fitness + Fun. The BACHG will enhance South CountyFood, Fitness + Fun’s successful intervention program that provides overweight and obese young people and their families with fitness and nutritional counseling in a fun and friendly environment. The program, offered through South County Hospital, supports children between the ages of 6-10 years old. A 16-week program, South County Food, Fitness + Fun engages overweight and obese children and their parents in hands-on lessons and discussions about nutrition and fitness. The families work closely with pediatricians, nutritionists and fitness specialists to learn how to eat healthy and become physically active as part of their daily routine.

Based on the successful program performance following the first year of grant funding awarded in 2015, transitional BACHG funding will be awarded in 2016 to the following agencies at the following amounts:

·    Clinica Esperanza ($25,000)
·    Crossroads RI ($30,000)
·    Education in Action ($17,500)
·    Newport County YMCA ($20,000)
·    Partnership for Providence Parks ($30,000)
·    McAuley Village ($17,000)

Year-end evaluations showed that a total of 6,098 Rhode Islanders (of which 4,633 are children) have been impacted through the 2015 program funding.

The BACHG program awards local organizations that teach and support healthy habits, from better nutrition to increased physical activity. BCBSRI accepts and reviews proposals for the BACHG program once a year. Each letter of intent received is reviewed to determine compliance with eligibility and funding priorities. Grant award winners were notified in December 2015 with funding beginning in January 2016.

The BACHG program was launched in 2002 and since then has invested more than $3 million into quality programs that have touched the lives of more than 257,000 people in the state. The program is a key component in BCBSRI’s vision of enhancing the quality of life for Rhode Islanders by increasing the quality of and access to healthcare services. The BACHGs are made possible by the BCBSRI Community Health Fund, a corporate donor-advised fund of The Rhode Island Foundation.

About Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island 
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is the state’s leading health insurer and covers more than 450,000 members. The company is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @BCBSRI, and like us on Facebook at

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