Got Grants? Tips for Applying to the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation

Julie Bitely

| 3 min read

A recuperative center for the homeless. Expanded access to HIV testing for an at-risk population. Research on how a person’s weight affects their quality of health care. This seemingly unrelated list is just a small peek into the work of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, or rather, the organizations and people who received funding in 2015. Every year, the foundation awards nearly $2 million worth of grants with a common goal: improving the health of Michigan residents. There are five main categories grants fall under:
  1. Community Health Matching Program grants are for nonprofit community organizations who develop, use and evaluate new ways to solve community health problems.
  2. Investigator Initiated Research Program grants are for researchers with projects designed to improve the quality, cost and access to health care in Michigan.
  3. Physician-Investigator Research Award grants are for doctors who propose research related to quality, cost or access to care for Michigan residents.
  4. Integrated Behavioral and Primary Care for Safety Net Patients in Michigan: These grants are through a request for proposal program and are for Michigan-based safety net organizations working to integrate behavioral and substance abuse care into primary care settings to help uninsured, underinsured, low-income or disabled residents.
  5. Student Award Program grants are for doctoral and medical students at Michigan universities researching health care topics.
If you have an idea that might fit into one of the above grant programs, the foundation staff wants to hear about it. Nora Maloy is director of programs for the Foundation and evaluates the merit of grant proposals. She offered these tips for a smooth application process:
  • Show a clear link to improved health. If you can’t answer how your proposal idea will help improve the health of Michigan residents, you’re probably not ready to submit. Maloy said making that connection to improved health for residents or an improved health care system is a must to receive foundation funding. That said, new and innovative ways of thinking about how those improvements are made are always welcome.
  • Test out your idea. If you’re not sure a proposal is a good fit, Maloy recommends filling out a concept paper form before officially applying. Foundation staff are happy to take a look and provide feedback to help verify whether your submission is appropriate. Forms can be requested via email at
  • Get professional help. If you’re having a hard time getting your great idea on paper, proposal development awards are available in $3,500 increments. Applicants can use the funds to hire a professional grant writer to polish their submission. The money does not have to be used solely for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation grant applications, but again, should have a tie to bettering the health of Michigan residents.
  • Number it. When you are ready to submit your grant proposal, make sure the pages are numbered. In determining whether or not to fund a grant, Maloy said having numbered pages helps everyone to literally stay on the same page when clarifying questions are asked about a proposal.
Ready to make your project a reality? Head on over to the foundation’s website to find interactive applications and deadline information. Read the latest annual report to get a feel for recently funded projects. Maloy said upcoming funding priorities include substance abuse, particularly surrounding the opioid epidemic. If you liked this post, you might also like:
Photo credit: Tim Sackton
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association