Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Awards Nearly $2.5 Million to Build Community Capacity and Advance Health Equity

EAGAN, Minn. -- The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has awarded nearly $2 million in funding to 15 organizations from across Minnesota as a part of the Health POWER (People Organizing and Working for Equitable Results) program, and nearly $500,000 to three organizations working towards systems change related to health equity. These projects will engage community members and influence systems to improve community health and address health inequities related to physical activity, healthy eating, and reducing commercial tobacco use. Each of the projects will enhance the capacity of local communities to create policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change that will lead to long-term, sustained health improvement.

Health POWER

Six Health POWER projects will be working in communities in greater Minnesota; nine projects are in the Twin Cities metro area and one project is striving for statewide reach. Two Tribal Nations will work with their communities including a project that will address Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in three Tribal communities.

The populations served through these 15 projects includes Asian Americans, African Americans, African Immigrants/Refugees; Latinos, Native Americans, people living with mental illness, and substance use providers. Three projects focus on youth leadership development. All 15 organizations are partnering with stakeholders such as other community groups, tribal departments, public health organizations, and youth groups.

"Health POWER supports community-led organizations as they create solutions for their own health. We are excited to work these organizations as they engage community members and work to create long-term, systemic change," says Carolyn Link, senior director, community health partnerships.

As a new component of the Center for Prevention funding model, the Health POWER funded organizations will regularly come together as a cohort to network, share successes and challenges, and identify opportunities to collaborate with peers. The Center for Prevention will host quarterly convenings and facilitate collective learning opportunities for the participants.

"These organizations have proposed bold ideas that will promote leadership development, community-led solutions, and collaborations to advance policy, systems and environmental change," says Chris Matter, Senior Program Manager, Community Health and Health Equity. "Our hope with this cohort experience is that connections, collaboration and a shared vision for healthier communities will provide the foundation for collective impact beyond any one individual project."

The following organizations are part of the inaugural Health POWER cohort. Learn more about their projects here:

  • The Alliance
  • American Lung Association in Minnesota
  • Appetite For Change
  • Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota (ANSR)
  • Communidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES)
  • The Food Group
  • Hmong American Farmers Association
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative
  • Lower Sioux Indian Community in the State of Minnesota, a federally recognized Indian tribe
  • Main Street Project
  • Minnesota Communities Caring for Children
  • NorthPoint Health and Wellness
  • Our Streets Minneapolis
  • The Trust for Public Land – Minnesota

Three organizations from diverse sectors will receive funding to address systemic issues related to health equity and community health in Minnesota.

  • Born to Thrive will advocate for policy changes related to healthy eating in the early childcare sector through in-home childcare providers and centers throughout the state.
  • The Indigenous Food Network of Minneapolis will work to rebuild a sovereign food system in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.
  • The Community Engagement for Equitable Systems Change collaborative will bring partners together to develop tools and resources to bridge the divide between systems and the communities they serve.

"Collaboration is essential to achieving community health improvement goals. We are excited to work with these organizations to address some of the systemic issues impacting health throughout Minnesota," says Carolyn Link.

Learn more about the projects here.

About the Center for Prevention
The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota delivers on Blue Cross' long-term commitment to improve the health of all Minnesotans by tackling the leading root causes of preventable disease: commercial tobacco use, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating. Funded through proceeds from Blue Cross' historic lawsuit against the tobacco industry, we collaborate with organizations statewide to increase health equity, transform communities and create a healthier state. Visit for more information.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota's first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today as a health company: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. Blue Cross is a not-for-profit, taxable organization. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 35 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.