BCBSND Caring Foundation Recognizes 2021 SPARK Grant Recipients

In January 2021, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) Caring Foundation announced that they would be awarding grants of up to $50,000 to North Dakota communities and organizations undertaking efforts to support health and community-based wellness and prevention. Now, BCBSND Caring Foundation has named recipients of the first annual CaringforCommunities SPARK Grants.

SPARK stands for Strengthening People, Access, Resources and Knowledge. The goal of these grants is to enhance innovation, collaboration and community involvement to create long-lasting change. The following recipients were able to demonstrate that their initiatives: encourage health and well-being in local communities, are sustainable, are a priority in the community, collaborate with community stakeholders and align with evidence-based best practices and principles.

2021 SPARK Grant recipients:

Spectra Health, Grand Forks, will implement an oral health pilot project across its service area in northeast North Dakota to routinely incorporate preventive oral health services into all eligible dental visits, including fluoride and sealant applications to all patients regardless of insurance status or reimbursement.

Western Wellness Foundation Inc., Dickinson; due to the pandemic, children have suffered from increased physical and emotional isolation as well as increased domestic violence and substance abuse at home. Funding will be used to develop and administer a post-pandemic Mental Health Assessment (MHA) screening tool that will address hidden emotional problems, such as depression and anxiety, that may trouble at-risk children, who are typically from low-income and minority families.

North Dakota Autism Center, Fargo, will invest in activities and programming for a new Enrichment Center. This will create more opportunities for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities as well as their caregivers to actively participate in their own health and wellness – all in a safe, comfortable environment.

Bismarck Recreation Council, Bismarck, will initiate a sustainable bike share system in the Bismarck-Mandan community to provide residents, college students and visitors a healthy, affordable and environmentally friendly way to explore the area. It will also encourage community members to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.

Pam Gulleson, Caring Foundation Executive Director states, “We had a large number of exceptional submissions for our SPARK grants and are pleased to offer our first round of grants to these applicants to support new and innovative models that can be replicated and sustained in communities for years to come.”

To learn more or apply for a SPARK Grant, visit bcbsnd.com/caring-foundation/impact-areas/spark-grants and submit a Letter of Intent during our second grant cycle from July 1 to August 15. If you have questions about the application process, please email caringfoundation@bcbsnd.com.