EAGAN, Minn. -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) launched its Healthy Together Willmar initiative in 2016, committing $2 million to the community over several years. The mission of the initiative is to help create a future where all members of the Willmar community have access to the resources and opportunities needed to achieve their best possible health.
In Willmar, achieving good health is met with significant barriers, which are often experienced most by an increasingly diverse and aging population. To address some of these barriers, the Healthy Together Willmar initiative launched the Idea Fund in 2018, creating an opportunity for community members to submit ideas to affect change.
Now in its second round of funding, more than $264,000 will be awarded to local community groups to offer support and solutions related to physical, mental and behavioral health, community connections, access to dental care, the availability of culturally based childcare and more.
"When it comes to addressing community health challenges, the best ideas come directly from our communities," said Sarah Senseman, director of Community Integration at Blue Cross. "This has fueled the concept of the Idea Fund, which has been designed to bring people together to build new relationships and offer a different way to be involved in community work. The goal of this funding is to support ideas that create a community that offers the same opportunity for health across cultural, racial, generational and ethnic groups."
The Idea Fund process kicked off in the fall of 2018, with residents attending community meals at homes throughout Willmar and engaging in conversations about how to address the community's barriers to health. From there, ideas were submitted to the Willmar Community Table, which is comprised of diverse residents who have firsthand experience facing barriers to health. The Community Table works to surface and test bold new ideas to create a healthier Willmar for all.
More information about the Idea Fund, including full project descriptions, can be found at HealthyTogetherWillmar.org
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (bluecrossmn.com), 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.