By Jorge Martinez
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Florida Blue, Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan, announced it is investing nearly $2 million into organizations doing work in Fort Lauderdale’s 33311 zip code as part of the insurer’s initiative to address generational poverty.
This summer, Florida Blue launched its Growing Resilient Communities initiative, a philanthropic program focused on breaking the cycle of generational poverty in five select ZIP codes across the state.
The initiative partners with residents and organizers in each community on specific needs, including access to quality education, financial security, safe and healthy living conditions, improved health status and focused support from organizations and services.
Florida Blue and GuideWell president and CEO, Pat Geraghty, along with Florida Blue’s South Florida Market President Penny Shaffer and other company and community leaders were in Fort Lauderdale last week to announce the insurer is investing nearly $2 million into the area that includes the communities of Lauderdale Lakes, Lauderhill, Oakland Park and Wilton Manors as well as Dillard High School 6-12.
During last week’s announcement, Florida Blue awarded gifts to:
- Urban League of Broward County with $1 million to invest into The Village at Oakland Park. The Urban League plans to build a vibrant, intergenerational neighborhood in the heart of Oakland Park. The first phase of the new development will offer affordable and workforce housing options for families, seniors, and individuals and will aim to improve the social and economic mobility of low- to moderate-income residents in the area.
- Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance with $100,000 for its Prosperity Partnership program to improve economic mobility. The goal of the effort is to coordinate and align services and providers across the county to promote social services for residents; equip residents with skills to match prospective employers’ needs; leverage employer connections to increase the probability of ongoing job recruitment from the targeted zip codes, which include 33311; and advocate for policy changes that will eradicate system barriers in the zip codes.
- Broward College’s BrowardUp program a gift of $30,000 to expand job training. Through Broward UP, Broward College is offering FREE educational opportunities, workforce training, and support services directly in neighborhoods throughout Broward County. The goal is to help residents get the training needed to find a good job, make more money, and get the skills needed to thrive in the workforce.
Florida Blue also conducted a ribbon cutting ceremony to inaugurate the newly renovated P.E.B.S. location at Dillard High School 6-12, one of the other major investments in the community. “Partners in Education for Business Success” (P.E.B.S.) is a high-school internship program established in 1991 by Florida Blue that offers junior and senior business-track students hands-on experience in a real business environment.
Students are trained in office concepts, claims pro-cessing, basic data entry, teamwork and corporate philosophy and their responsibilities include keying claims, working entry exceptions, held claims as well as sending letters to both members and providers. Florida Blue bases a full-time supervisor at the school to coordinate schedules and manage the students and their workflow. The stu-dents are considered part-time employees, receive a paycheck, and have opport-unities to join fulltime after graduation.
“Growing Resilient Com-munities is an aspirational effort to contribute our com-pany’s core competencies, strengths and assets into existing initiatives to help end the cycle of generational poverty in these communities. We know that the most im-pactful way to engage with the community means we don’t set the agenda, but rather serve as a trusted partner so that together we can identify the challenges and find the solutions,” said Geraghty.
“It is our goal to both build upon the work already underway in the Fort Lauderdale area and initiate comprehensive strategies to improve housing, education, workforce development and the overall health of this community.”
According to a September 2020 report by the Urban Institute called “Creating Places of Opportunity for All” there is a direct correlation between the economic prosperity of a person’s neighborhood and their health.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 63,000 people reside in the 10 square miles that comprise the 33311 ZIP code. The median household income for the area is $30,738 with a disproportionately large number of single-parent households. More than one in four adults in the community did not graduate from high school.
Florida Blue has also launched Growing Resilient Communities initiatives to address generational poverty in select ZIP codes in Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando.
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