Together We’re Building Healthier Communities

Dear Friends,

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:

  1. 1.


    We contribute to nonprofit organizations that offer innovative, multi-faceted solutions to support children and families in their homes, schools, workplaces, and environments.

  2. 2.


    Our associates share their brainpower and passion with causes they care about.

  3. 3.


    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.

Kind regards,

Jeff Bellows at a Service Day Jeff Bellows
Vice President, Corporate Citizenship
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

At Blue Cross, we believe all children & families throughout the Commonwealth deserve to thrive, learn, and lead as healthy & engaged citizens. Here's how it happens


Campus of Care

Woman interacting with children the Blue Cross Teaching Kitchen

Preschoolers learn that cooking is fun and healthy foods are delicious at the Nurtury Learning Lab in Boston. Lead Teacher Denise Jackson guides the way in the Blue Cross Teaching Kitchen.

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.

Wayne Ysaguirre reading to children in an animated way
“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.


Prescription for Learning

Jessica Eves and Thabiti Brown walking up a staircase in a school

Jessica Eves of Blue Cross helped Codman Academy and Codman Square Health Center strengthen their unique partnership. Academy Principal Thabiti Brown is a nationally sought expert on running schools as community centers.

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.

Portrait of Jessica Eves with a blurred background
“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

Working Together - The Codman Model

Working Together: The Codman Model

Codman Academy and Codman Square Health Center team up to serve students better.

  • Person getting heart checked by doctor

    Better health

    Children benefit from onsite access to primary and urgent care, behavioral health care, and nutrition and fitness programs. The health center reaches more patients, more consistently.

  • Person pointing out something on a chest X-ray

    Learning opportunities

    The academy’s juniors and seniors intern at the health center in areas like radiology, patient services, financial services, and the laboratory.

  • Group shot of medical staff

    Talent development

    By interacting with role models, students see paths to professional success. More than 100 health center staff have mentored or supervised students.


Food as Health


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.

Picture of the Blue Cross dining room with information on a sustainable fishery in the foreground.

Blue Cross dining services now offers associates more selections that are nutritious and sourced from fisheries, farmers, and other producers who are committed to sustainability.

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.

The garden is just one element of our company’s healthy food philosophy. We know that how we produce, distribute, consume, and dispose of food has far-reaching effects on the health of our people and the planet. With this in mind, we took steps last year to:

  • Illustration of vegetables

    Focus on food

    We developed new food program principles that encourage healthy eating. Our dining halls and catering services offer choices that are delicious and affordable while meeting high standards for nutrition and sustainability.

  • Recycling logo

    Save resources

    Associates now participate in single-stream recycling and composting programs in our cafeterias. These efforts help us divert trash from landfills, improve air quality, and reduce the amount of chemicals used to grow food.

  • Plastic bottle inside the red NO symbol

    Ban the bottle

    We have stopped providing bottled beverages for meetings, luncheons, and internal events, opting instead for healthy selections of water, iced tea, and 100 percent juices served in pitchers.

Service Day

One Community. One Blue.

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.

3,150 associates volunteered at 45 service sites in 21 cities and towns
24,000 low-income children benefitted through Cradles to Crayons service projects
“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

Service Day Community Partners

Education Enrichment

  • Big Sister Association of Greater Boston
    Renovated the Old Colony Housing Project for residents
  • Boston Renaissance Charter Public School
    Built a portable whiteboard and tables for outdoor learning
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston
    Beautified grounds and prepared healthy snacks
  • Camp Harbor View
    Cleaned and winterized the camp
  • Service day painting a playground
  • Crossroads for Kids
    Prepared camp for school programs, serviced 42 bikes for 300 kids
  • Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts
    Refurbished and landscaped Camp Wind in the Pines
  • Hull Lifesaving Museum
    Repaired the boathouse ramp and readied for rowing season
  • People Making a Difference Through Community Service
    Assembled Lego protein science kits
  • Playworks
    Renovated a schoolyard for 1,240 students, coached during recess
  • South Shore Stars
    Repaired the summer camp’s cabins and amphitheater
  • Thompson Island Outward Bound
    Prepared for the annual 4K Trail Run
  • Service day with paint rollers
  • West End House Boys & Girls Club
    Prepared 1,000+ meals for children ages 7-18
  • Youth Build Boston
    Painted and beautified Paige Academy

Healthy Child Development

  • Cradles to Crayons (Giving Factory)
    Sorted donations to benefit 956 children
  • Service day with paint rollers
  • Magical Moon Farm
    Created an outdoor retreat for critically ill children
  • Project Just Because
    Assembled 1,150 holiday packages of toys for families in need
  • Thrive in 5 – United Way of MA Bay
    Assembled 1,319 craft kits for children

Healthy Environments

  • Appalachian Mountain Club
    Restored and conserved the Bay Circuit Trail
  • Boston Harbor Island Alliance
    Cleaned up a beach along Peddocks Island
  • Emerald Necklace Conservancy
    Cut back invasive plants threatening Olmsted Park
  • Service day with paint rollers
  • Franklin Park Coalition
    Cleared over 300 invasive plants and rejuvenated the park
  • Massachusetts Audubon Society
    Created Boston’s first “edible forest” and restored 350 feet of trail
  • Old Colony YMCA – Bridgewater
    Built a storybook trail and a greenhouse to benefit 700+ children
  • Old Colony YMCA – Brockton
    Refurbished campgrounds and planted a flower garden
  • Old Colony YMCA – Plymouth
    Created a volleyball court to serve 1,600 children
  • Old Colony YMCA – Stoughton
    Built an outdoor science discovery center
  • Rebuilding Together Springfield
    Painted and landscaped a veteran’s home
  • Service day with paint rollers
  • Save the Harbor/Save the Bay
    Cleaned 10 acres of beach and park land
  • The Food Project
    Harvested food to be donated to hunger groups
  • The Trustees of Reservations
    Winterized vegetable beds, greenhouse, and barn
  • YMCA Cape Cod
    Maintained the trails and installed drywall in a new cabin
  • YMCA Greater Boston
    Beautified the Roxbury and Dorchester facilities
  • Zoo New England
    Weeded the giraffe savannah, harvested organic produce

Sustainable Health Care

  • American Red Cross of Massachusetts
    Packaged thousands of groceries for families in need
  • Service day with paint rollers
  • Ascentria Care Alliance*
    Planted and harvested at New Lands Farm
  • Community Servings
    Diced produce to feed 875 homebound clients
  • Crittenton Women's Union
    Created a happy, healthy place for 50 families at Hastings House
  • Father Bills & MainSpring
    Beautified the facility so guests feel welcome
  • Greater Boston Food Bank
    Sorted and repacked 52,594 pounds of food, equal to 37,562 meals
  • Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
    Painted or upholstered 43 furniture pieces for clients’ new homes
  • Pine Street Inn
    Chopped 1,700 pounds of vegetables for shelters
  • Service day with paint rollers
  • The Salvation Army
    Spruced up the camp for 1,200 disadvantaged youth
  • VA Boston Healthcare System – Brockton
    Painted 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.

2014 Year In Review

In 2014, Blue Cross contributed


to 531 nonprofit organizations

Our associates personally gave
to United Way of Massachusetts Bay and
to our Catalyst Fund,
which provides small grants to organizations that expand health care access
The BCBSMA Foundation awarded
in grants to
community programs and projects working to improve health care access, quality, and affordability

Team Blue

associates of all fitness levels trained for and participated in more than
charity fitness events sponsored by Blue Cross
calories burned
steps tallied for
4,747 miles
That equates to 565 trips up and down Mount Washington!

Learning on the Job

Students from public high schools gain work experience through our partnership with Boston Private Industry Council.

120 Internships were sponsored by Blue Cross
interns worked at our company
interns contributed at community partners, including Youth Design and Save the Harbor / Save the Bay
$380K value of program

Waste Less. Conserve More. Every Year.

We continued making progress toward long-term goals to run our business and facilities more sustainably.

Electricity use reduced 15%
Retrofitted Quincy parking garage lighting with energy-efficient LEDs
Gas use reduced 12%
Upgraded kitchen hood exhaust systems in our Quincy cafeteria
Office paper use reduced 35%
Saved the equivalent of 5,600 trees
Waste-to-landfill reduced 16%
Diverted 51% of overall waste
Recycled over 400 tons (in 2014)
Implemented desk-side, single-stream recycling program
Composted over 40 tons (in 2014)
Launched composting programs in our cafeterias
Avoided using 12K of bottled water (in 2014)
Eliminated bottled beverages in company catering and meetings

Awards & Recognition

  • 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

Thank You

Three cheers for our community partners working to make Massachusetts a better place for children and families. We are deeply honored to pursue this shared vision with you.