Posted on

Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas awards more than $1 million in grants


LITTLE ROCK – The Blue and You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas announces the funding of more than a dozen programs across Arkansas, totaling more than $1 million. The programs are designed to address various social determinants of health that can impact a person’s whole health.

Social determinants of health are described as the conditions in which you are born, grow, live and work that can impact your overall health.

“At the Blue & You Foundation, we understand the importance of whole-person health. We are committed to supporting the organizations impacting the well-being of Arkansans through social determinants of health by providing healthy foods, economic support and safe housing,” said Rebecca Pittillo, Blue & You Foundation president.

Nonprofit and municipal organizations, as well as schools and universities, were eligible for up to $200,000 each. Recipients include:

• Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention ($192,600) — ArCOP’s Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program provides access to healthy, affordable, locally-grown produce. SNAP recipients receive a one-to-one dollar match to purchase produce at many grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

• City Connections, Inc.

($35,000) — City Connections’ Arkansas Hunger Relief Army will increase the distribution of shelf-stable, nutritious food products by 100,000 meals to approximately 16,700 residents of Central Arkansas.

• Conway Regional Health Foundation ($24,816) — The Conway Regional Health Disparity Program seeks to bridge the gap between inpatient hospital stays and home health recovery for low-income patients in Faulkner, Cleburne, Conway, Perry, Pope, Van Buren, Johnson and Yell counties by providing assistance to address economic stability, healthcare access and quality, as well as safe housing.

• EAST Initiative ($30,000)

See STATE, page A3 STATE

From page A2

— EAST seeks to enhance the technological education and workforce readiness of approximately 300 students in the Arkansas Delta. Three new EAST programs will be established in regions where schools struggle to meet the financial requirements.

• Goodwill Arkansas Education Initiatives, Inc. ($50,000) — Goodwill Industries of Arkansas will enhance and expand its Excel Center pilot program, offering free in-person classes to 250 students for whom English is a second language. The Excel Center is a free high school for adults, operating in Central and Northwest Arkansas.

• Grace Presbyterian Church ($13,000) — Grace Presbyterian Church of Little Rock will expand its food pantry after experiencing rapid growth and demand over the past two years, providing nutritious foods, health and hygiene products and health-related information.

• Hispanic Community Services, Inc. ($118,795) — Bilingual education will be provided for low-income students in Northeast Arkansas through the La Escuelita and Hispanic Emerging Leaders Program (H.E.L.P.). This resource was created to help students and their families access a better quality of life through empowerment, knowledge and mentorship.

• Kind at Heart Ministries, Inc. ($10,000) — Kind at Heart Ministries will make homes safe and accessible for at least 14 low-income elderly and/or disabled individuals in Siloam Springs by constructing wheelchair ramps.

• Little Rock School District ($13,710.69) — Pulaski Heights Elementary educators will implement a three-day summer pilot program, Summer Assessment Academy, during which they will administer academic assessments to determine whether some students will need academic interventions when the school year begins.

• Northwest Arkansas Food Bank ($25,000) — The Northwest Arkansas Food Bank will provide 1.2 million pounds of groceries to 75,000 residents in Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties, distributed through a network of 20 mobile pantries.

• Oasis of Northwest


From page A4

Arkansas ($9,500) — The Recovery Community Center, operated by Oasis of Northwest Arkansas, will provide comprehensive support services and resources for individuals in recovery in Benton, Boone, Carroll, Franklin, Madison, Pulaski, Sebastian and Washington counties. The center will provide food, educational resources, workshops, technology and wellness activities.

• Restore Hope, Inc.

($200,000) — Restore Hope’s 100 Families Initiative will expand into Mississippi, Independence and Jefferson counties, offering families collaborative case management. The funding will also provide direct client assistance with transportation, food, childcare, housing and education needs.

• University District Development Corporation ($200,000) — The University District Development Corporation will construct six new, affordable single-family homes and 10 duplexes in Little Rock’s University District. Residents will include individuals considered low-income and individuals with certain needs.

• Wolfe Street Foundation, Inc. ($114,454) — The Wolfe Street Foundation’s Navigating Social Determinants of Health Barriers project seeks to help Arkansans in recovery by eliminating transportation and other barriers to resources.

Schools, universities, nonprofit groups and municipal organizations that provide programs addressing behavioral health needs can apply for grants up to $200,000 by submitting a letter of intent July 1-12 at blueandyoufoundationarkansas. org. Minigrants, up to $2,000, are also available by applying on the Foundation’s website. These funds are awarded on a rolling basis throughout the year.

About the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas:

The Blue & You Foundation, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, serves the state of Arkansas and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. In its 20 years of operation, the Blue & You Foundation has awarded more than $50 for health-improvement programs in Arkansas. To achieve the goal of better health for all Arkansans, the Blue & You Foundation seeks to harness the power of partnership. By strategically focusing its grant funding on community-based solutions, the Foundation hopes to nurture community health leadership, foster collaboration, and innovation, and leverage financial, human and community resources to produce a measurable, positive impact. To learn more about the Foundation’s investments, visit blueandyoufoundationarkansas. org.


Judge halts Arkansas policy that removes option for ender neutral marker on IDs

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A circuit judge has temporarily halted a new rule that ended the ability for gender-neutral markers on driver's licenses and identification cards in Arkansas.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of five people and the ACLU of Arkansas, came after the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) announced on March 12 that it would remove the ability to use an 'X' marker for gender on IDs in lieu of choosing 'male' or female.'

That lawsuit argued the emergency rule change was done 'without any documented justification or compliance' and that there should be a 30-day public notice and comment period. The group also said the change in policy would restrict the ability to allow transgender and nonbinary Arkansans to self-identify.

The ACLU of Arkansas reacted to the ruling on social media, saying it 'reaffirms due process and public input in impactful policies.'

'This is a significant victory for our clients and for the rights and dignity of all Arkansas,' the group said.

John Williams, legal director for the ACLU of Arkansas, said the ruling 'reaffirms the importance of due process' and the need for the public's input on policy changes. 'The DFA’s attempt to bypass these critical steps was a clear overreach, and we are pleased that the court has recognized the harm this policy inflicted on our plaintiffs and others in the community.”

State officials have said the reason for the change is to 'better safeguard the integrity of licenses and IDs issued.'

Before the proposed change, the policy had been in effect since 2010.

Officials with the DFA are set to hold a public comment hearing on making the rule permanent on June 7. After the hearing, written comments on the change can be submitted until June 27. Attorney General Tim Griffin said he looks forward to defending the case as the judge's statement indicates the ruling will be 'limited and only applicable until the issuance of the permanent DFA rule.”

Scroll Up