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BCBSM, BCBSM Foundation and Brilliant Detroit Partner to Implement Building Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative on Detroit’s East Side

Teddy Wingert

| 4 min read

DETROIT, Nov. 29, 2023 — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation are partnering to provide Brilliant Detroit a $30,000 grant focused on improving health in four neighborhoods on Detroit’s East Side. Grants will support neighborhood-level access to physical activity and healthy food to make positive changes in the health of children and families in Morningside, Chandler Park, Islandview and Osborn communities.
Detroiters have distinct barriers to access physical fitness opportunities. According to the Trust for Public Land, Detroit is in the 28th percentile of U.S. cities for access to recreation centers —only one exists for every 40,000 residents. Additionally, many Detroit neighborhoods have one or no full-line grocery stores, making residents’ ability to access fresh produce limited. Both challenges are compounded by a lack of mobility options. A University of Michigan study revealed one-in-three Detroit households don’t have access to a vehicle and an unreliable public transportation system restricts ability to travel outside of their neighborhood. Considering these stark needs, the Building Healthy Neighborhoods initiative was born.
The grant will support physical fitness offerings that include martial arts, Mexican folk dance, Zumba, yoga and hustle classes. Classes will be facilitated by a staff member hired from each individual community and available for young children and their caregivers at Brilliant Detroit hub locations. Through partnerships with Eastern Market and other local food providers, fresh foods will also be available at neighborhood hubs.
“Access to physical fitness opportunities and fresh foods are absolutely critical when we think about a person’s whole health and wellbeing,” said Ken Hayward, vice president and special assistant to the president for Community Relations at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, we’re committed to supporting programs that improve the health of Michigan residents. We’re thrilled to partner with Brilliant Detroit in this effort to Build Healthy Neighborhoods and make strides towards health equity that’s needed right in our backyard.”
In the short term, the Building Healthy Neighborhoods initiative is expected to improve families’ knowledge, behaviors and practices around health, nutrition and fitness and at the neighborhood level, lead to an increased knowledge and awareness of community health resources. In the long term, the goal is to see change in health outcomes for chronic diseases and issues like diabetes, obesity, and more.
In 2019, Brilliant Detroit was awarded a grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation to fuel its HealthLink program. The initiative gives community members the tools to lead public health campaigns in their neighborhoods, as the most effective messengers to drive real change. It was originally piloted in the Morningside community. Seeing great success, it has expanded into Cody Rouge and Southwest neighborhoods and will now drive the Building Healthy Neighborhoods initiative forward.
“Brilliant Detroit offers a range of research-based programs that are designed to holistically meet real, tangible needs,” said Audrey Harvey, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation executive director and chief executive officer. “Building upon our previous support to establish the organization’s HealthLink program, we’re honored to work with this organization that is committed to driving real change, empowering the community and measuring outcomes to ensure success. Detroit’s Eastside is full of families who want the best for themselves and their children—we’re incredibly eager to see lives change through this meaningful initiative.”
"We are profoundly grateful for the generosity and partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the BCBSM Foundation. Brilliant Detroit is deeply committed to driving real change that powers communities. Together, we are not just addressing needs but creating a transformative force that uplifts families on Detroit's East Side. This support is a testament to our shared dedication to measurable outcomes and the belief that every positive change begins at the community level," said Cindy Eggleton, co-founder and chief executive officer at Brilliant Detroit.
For more information on the partnership’s grant programs, visit Blue Cross’ grants and contributions webpage and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation’s 2022 Annual Report.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides health benefits to more than 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies residing outside the state. The company has been committed to delivering affordable health care products through a broad variety of plans for businesses, individuals and seniors for more than 80 years. Beyond health care coverage, BCBSM supports impactful community initiatives and provides leadership in improving health care. For more information, visit bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com.

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