Beyond the Card: Health Endowment Fund

Paul Hillegonds

| 3 min read

There’s an ever-growing need to improve the health of communities across the state of Michigan and call for leaders who are ready to take real action and make a difference. The Michigan Health Endowment Fund and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan are making strides to bring about these changes. Created in 2013, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund (MHEF) strives to improve the health and well-being of Michigan residents while reducing the cost of care. The organization accomplishes this goal by placing a special emphasis on the health and wellness of both children and seniors through important initiatives that not only touch on the diverse health and wellness needs of Michiganders, but also provide grants to select programs that target specific community needs. And it’s all done with the help of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which is supporting the MHEF with $1.56 billion in pledged payments over 18 years. At MHEF, we have a statewide focus on protecting people in our communities who are the most vulnerable, and we accomplish that goal in two ways. First, we support proactive initiatives in mental health, healthy aging, nutrition and active lifestyles. Second, we provide one-time grants that can help address specific community needs. The fund focuses on programs in eight priority areas – infant mortality, health services for foster and adopted children, wellness and fitness programs, access to healthy food, behavioral health services, technology enhancement, health-related transportation services and foodborne illness prevention. What does this mean for your community? Here are a few of the many ways the MHEF has impacted the health of Michiganders:
  • We’ve provided more than $50 million in grants to dozens of nonprofit and health organizations across the state over the last two years.
  • We provided the Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan with $5 million to help older adults prevent falls and manage diabetes. (In Michigan, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths, non-fatal injuries and trauma-related hospital admissions of older adults.)
  • We’ve announced an additional $8 million in available grants for behavioral health initiatives, as well as our other focus areas.
  • We awarded United Way for Southeastern Michigan $2 million to help low-income Detroiters manage overdue water bills and avoid shutoffs. These funds have also aided in the clean-up of debris that resulted from flooding.
  • We granted $5 million to the Food Bank Council of Michigan for a new program that distributes fruits and vegetables to those in need across the state. The program provides direct service to schools, senior centers and other high-need areas.
  • Through an $800,000 grant from the fund, the Michigan Primary Care Association was able to secure an additional $7.2 million in federal funds to help expand the program.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Michigan Health Endowment Fund or available grants for your organization, please visit, call 517-374-0031 or email This post is part of a storytelling series we call, “Beyond the Card.” These stories will feature Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members, employees, and communities who are making meaningful differences throughout our state. We invite you to follow Beyond the Card stories here at and through the hashtag, #BeyondtheCard on our social channels. If you have a story you would like to share, please feel free to contact us at Photo credit: LadyDragonFlyCC
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association