There are no simple solutions to the challenges of health care. This is true especially for children and families in our most vulnerable communities, where health outcomes are tied to a complex mix of education, poverty, and the physical environment. And yet one thing is clear: No single company or nonprofit organization can make a lasting, sustainable impact alone. We must work together.
Corporate citizenship is not just a moral obligation, it is a business imperative. If we at Blue Cross are to continue providing exceptional service to our members, we must address the social and health inequities that ultimately affect us all. Our approach to citizenship involves every business area in the company and hinges on three strategic levers for change:
We contribute to nonprofit organizations that offer innovative, multi-faceted solutions to support children and families in their homes, schools, workplaces, and environments.
Our associates share their brainpower and passion with causes they care about.
We do business in a responsible, environmentally sustainable way for the health and benefit of our members, associates, and communities.
The stories in this report celebrate people and organizations working together to make a difference. We are privileged to have a spot on the team, and we thank our community partners and associates for their commitment.
Vice President, Corporate Citizenship
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
The Nurtury Learning Lab is a bright, beautiful building situated in the heart of the Bromley-Heath public housing development in Jamaica Plain, Boston. Inside, the Learning Lab buzzes with life. It is a school, a community center, and home base for a shared culture of health.
The Learning Lab opened in 2014 as the centerpiece of Nurtury’s plan to build a national model for delivering early education and comprehensive family services to low-income working families. Previously, Nurtury* ran its child care center from the dark basement of an adjacent building. The new, environmentally responsible location—funded by government grants and private supporters, including Blue Cross—houses many services in addition to child care.
“Blue Cross’ visible support helps make Bromley-Heath a thriving community,”explains Wayne Ysaguirre, Nurtury’s president and CEO. “The message to residents is, ‘Institutions in this city care about you and your families.’”
In the Learning Lab’s Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Teaching Kitchen, Nurtury staff show families how to prepare healthy meals together. Children also visit the kitchen for lessons in science—an integral part of the students’ curriculum—such as the life cycle of tomato plants used to make pasta sauce.
Latoya Taromino regularly sings Nurtury’s praises to her Bromley-Heath neighbors. “The Learning Lab is a positive development for everyone in our community, from children and teenagers to parents and grandparents,” she says. “I am so happy this new building is open, and I know the residents are, too.”
* Nurtury was known formerly as Associated Early Care and Education.
Educators in cities across the U.S. regularly dial up Codman Academy Charter School in Boston to ask, What’s your secret? How do a stunning 100 percent of your graduates continue on to college, despite growing up in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods?
The answer: Codman Academy is the first charter school in the country created by, and located in, a community health center. Codman is demonstrating that healthier people learn better and that people with greater access to education are healthier.
In 2014, Blue Cross helped Codman Academy and its partner, Codman Square Health Center, strengthen and document their unique model. Lending her expertise was Jessica Eves, our senior business consultant and the William C. Van Faasen Community Service Sabbatical Fellow. Associates of any position who demonstrate civic leadership and broad business knowledge may apply for this sabbatical.
Jessica immersed herself in the Codman family over six intensive months. She conducted research, interviewed staff, and ultimately produced two important reports:
- An internal set of recommendations for improvement
- A road map that Codman can share with other health centers and educators wishing to replicate its successful model
Jessica not only helped Codman, but she also had a rewarding experience. She tested her skills in a new environment, learned what makes innovative organizations tick, and brought that knowledge back to Blue Cross.
“The sabbatical boosted my confidence so I could come back and consult more independently and more effectively on business issues that are important to the company and my colleagues.”– Jessica Eves, Senior Business Consultant, Blue Cross
From a worksite garden to a company food program, we are introducing new ways to support the well-being of our associates and positively impact the planet and public health.
Calling all Blue Cross green thumbs, foodies, and environmentalists. In 2014, we broke ground on a 3,500-square-foot corporate garden at our Hingham office, and our associates are digging right in.
The corporate garden is a partnership between Blue Cross and The Trustees of Reservations, a nonprofit conservation organization in Massachusetts. The project is designed to build camaraderie among associates, provide important access to green space, and encourage healthy living. We will collaborate with the Trustees throughout the 2015 growing season.
Ed Pitcavage, South Shore superintendent at The Trustees’ Weir River Farm, is advising our associate gardeners.
“Weir River has created long-lasting community relationships through volunteer opportunities and educational programs, allowing our supporters, such as Blue Cross, to play an active part in the production of their food,” Ed explains.
No meetings, no email, no paperwork—but a mountain of good work accomplished. On September 17, our fourth annual Service Day: One Community. One Blue. gave everyone in the company the opportunity to make a difference in their local communities.
Powered by BlueCrew, a swell of good spirit took associates to youth centers and camps, shelters and food banks, and farms and parks across the Commonwealth. Together, we shared in a vision of making positive, measurable, and lasting impact.
“Never am I prouder to work for Blue Cross than on Service Day. Our impact is extraordinary.”– Aubre Carreon-Aguilar
Blue Crew Leadership Council Member
300 associate project leaders
22,460 hours of service
$606k+ value of service
13,710 people reached on Facebook
851 #ServiceDay14 Tweets
- Big Sister Association of Greater BostonRenovated the Old Colony Housing Project for residents
- Boston Renaissance Charter Public SchoolBuilt a portable whiteboard and tables for outdoor learning
- Boys & Girls Clubs of BostonBeautified grounds and prepared healthy snacks
- Camp Harbor ViewCleaned and winterized the camp
- Crossroads for KidsPrepared camp for school programs, serviced 42 bikes for 300 kids
- Girl Scouts of Eastern MassachusettsRefurbished and landscaped Camp Wind in the Pines
- Hull Lifesaving MuseumRepaired the boathouse ramp and readied for rowing season
- People Making a Difference Through Community ServiceAssembled Lego protein science kits
- PlayworksRenovated a schoolyard for 1,240 students, coached during recess
- South Shore StarsRepaired the summer camp’s cabins and amphitheater
- Thompson Island Outward BoundPrepared for the annual 4K Trail Run
- West End House Boys & Girls ClubPrepared 1,000+ meals for children ages 7-18
- Youth Build BostonPainted and beautified Paige Academy
Healthy Child Development
- Cradles to Crayons (Giving Factory)Sorted donations to benefit 956 children
- Magical Moon FarmCreated an outdoor retreat for critically ill children
- Project Just BecauseAssembled 1,150 holiday packages of toys for families in need
- Thrive in 5 – United Way of MA BayAssembled 1,319 craft kits for children
- Appalachian Mountain ClubRestored and conserved the Bay Circuit Trail
- Boston Harbor Island AllianceCleaned up a beach along Peddocks Island
- Emerald Necklace ConservancyCut back invasive plants threatening Olmsted Park
- Franklin Park CoalitionCleared over 300 invasive plants and rejuvenated the park
- Massachusetts Audubon SocietyCreated Boston’s first “edible forest” and restored 350 feet of trail
- Old Colony YMCA – BridgewaterBuilt a storybook trail and a greenhouse to benefit 700+ children
- Old Colony YMCA – BrocktonRefurbished campgrounds and planted a flower garden
- Old Colony YMCA – PlymouthCreated a volleyball court to serve 1,600 children
- Old Colony YMCA – StoughtonBuilt an outdoor science discovery center
- Rebuilding Together SpringfieldPainted and landscaped a veteran’s home
- Save the Harbor/Save the BayCleaned 10 acres of beach and park land
- The Food ProjectHarvested food to be donated to hunger groups
- The Trustees of ReservationsWinterized vegetable beds, greenhouse, and barn
- YMCA Cape CodMaintained the trails and installed drywall in a new cabin
- YMCA Greater BostonBeautified the Roxbury and Dorchester facilities
- Zoo New EnglandWeeded the giraffe savannah, harvested organic produce
Sustainable Health Care
- American Red Cross of MassachusettsPackaged thousands of groceries for families in need
- Ascentria Care Alliance*Planted and harvested at New Lands Farm
- Community ServingsDiced produce to feed 875 homebound clients
- Crittenton Women's UnionCreated a happy, healthy place for 50 families at Hastings House
- Father Bills & MainSpringBeautified the facility so guests feel welcome
- Greater Boston Food BankSorted and repacked 52,594 pounds of food, equal to 37,562 meals
- Massachusetts Coalition for the HomelessPainted or upholstered 43 furniture pieces for clients’ new homes
- Pine Street InnChopped 1,700 pounds of vegetables for shelters
- The Salvation ArmySpruced up the camp for 1,200 disadvantaged youth
- VA Boston Healthcare System – BrocktonPainted and landscaped at facility, and wrote letters to WWII veterans
* Formerly Lutheran Social Services
Together for Fresh Air and Fun
In 2014, we teamed up with the Appalachian Mountain Club and Boston Medical Center to bring Outdoors Rx™ to underserved families in Boston. Through this program, BMC pediatricians write prescriptions for outdoor activity, connecting their at-risk patients to green space and free recreational opportunities in their neighborhoods.
In 2014, Blue Cross contributed
The BlueCrew provides our associates with time away from work to volunteer.
Our Skills-Based Volunteer Program matches associates seeking new challenges with nonprofits looking for administrative and operational expertise.
Students from public high schools gain work experience through our partnership with Boston Private Industry Council.
Waste Less. Conserve More. Every Year.
We continued making progress toward long-term goals to run our business and facilities more sustainably.
- Top Corporate Charitable Contributor (#5) Boston Business Journal
- Corporate Community Partnership Award City of Quincy Department of Planning & Community Development
- Leadership Pioneer Award METCO (Metropolitan Council of Educational Opportunity)
- Community Impact Award Old Colony YMCA
- Lifetime Giving Award UMass Medicine Cancer Center of Excellence
- Excellence in Commuter Options (ECO) Leadership Award Mass Commute
- Jeff Bellows Vice President, Corporate Citizenship
- Kyle Cahill Senior Manager, Environmental Sustainability
- Lucy Darragh Director, Civic Engagement
- Yvonne Tang Director, Community Investments