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Volunteerism + Grant Funding Boost Local Community Health Improvement Efforts

BluesCare Giving

April 7, 2022

As we continue to navigate the challenges of a global pandemic and the impacts to our economy, it’s critical now — more than ever — that we give back and support our local communities. The Wellmark Foundation is committed to helping build strong, healthy communities across Iowa and South Dakota. With the help of our Wellmark employees, nearly 28,000 volunteer hours were spent at qualifying local nonprofits in 2021.

These volunteer hours were logged as part of The Wellmark Foundation’s BluesCare GivingSM program that provided $1.4 million to community nonprofits to boost community health improvement efforts and support local causes in 2021.

The BluesCare Giving program allows Wellmark employees to log volunteer hours that, in turn, earn them monetary donations to direct to qualifying nonprofit organizations of their choice. This creates a win-win for all involved by combining volunteer time and financial support. In addition, Wellmark employees may also request a matching gift for personal contributions or donate directly using payroll deduction.

Focused on Community Health

In addition to supporting our communities through the BluesCare Giving program, The Wellmark Foundation's Matching Assets to Community Health (MATCH) grants and special project funding provided $2.5 million to more than 50 communities and organizations in 2021.

Working to improve the social determinants of health conditions in the places where people are born and where they live, learn, work and play that affect a wide range of health and quality of life risks and outcomes is a priority for The Wellmark Foundation. Through our BluesCare Giving program and the hard work of Wellmark employees, and through built-environment projects and by providing access to healthy foods, we can improve the overall health of a community.

This year, we've better aligned our strategic priorities to encourage even more communities to get involved and take advantage of support from The Wellmark Foundation. All projects funded will help individuals, families and communities achieve better health, through access to healthy foods, providing places to be physically active and supporting positive health outcomes.

It's extremely rewarding to support community projects big and small, from all corners of Iowa and South Dakota. We see these citizens, often volunteers themselves, come together for the benefit of the health of their hometown.

Community projects that promote physical activity have included pocket parks, inclusive playgrounds, fitness and exercise stations, sports fields, waterway access points, trails, accessible walking paths and safety signage, etc. Grants of up to $100,000 have supported dozens of community projects.

Providing access to healthy foods has also been a key component in supporting healthy communities. Awarded grants have supported projects that created community gardens, edible landscaping and orchards, farm-to-table projects, programs that address hunger and provide food safety education and much more. Access to Healthy Foods MATCH Grants of up to $50,000 will be awarded later this year. Applications will be available on June 1, 2022, at Wellmark.com/Foundation.

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Mary Lawyer

Mary Lawyer is the executive director of The Wellmark Foundation. Mary joined Wellmark in 2015 and was charged with leading community health improvement initiatives, including Healthy HometownSM powered by Wellmark and The Wellmark Foundation.