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Contact Information: Jennifer Bryant | PH 904.798.3172 | jbryant@shepherdagency.com

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Florida Blue Foundation Receives HUD/USDA Secretaries' Award

October 22, 2014

WASHINGTON–Across the nation, community foundations, private foundations, and corporate giving programs work to improve neighborhoods and the lives of the people who live in them. Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Council on Foundations announced the 2014 winners of the Secretaries’ Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships.

The Florida Blue Foundation earned the award for their outstanding partnership with the public sector. The Florida Blue Foundation made significant improvements in addressing the childhood obesity epidemic through health and recreation, education, transportation, community participation and sustainability across all Florida geographies – urban, suburban and rural. The awards were presented at the Council on Foundations’ Fall Conference for Community Foundations in Cleveland.

“These foundations understand that strong communities connect families with the promise of living the American dream,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro.  “Powerful outcomes occur when the philanthropic and public sectors come together to solve problems, enhance neighborhoods and expand opportunity for others.  I commend these honorees for their deep commitment to serving the common good.” 

“USDA is proud to partner with foundations on worthy development projects that are improving the quality of life for rural residents and providing them with new economic opportunities,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “The work that foundations undertake often complements the work that our employees are carrying out at the local level. Congratulations to the foundations that have been recognized for their exceptional efforts in 2014.”

“I’m proud to offer my congratulations to the winning foundations,” said Vikki Spruill, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. “Their work serves as a model for others in the field. Philanthropy works across sectors to engage communities in meaningful development and productive action. I am grateful to Secretary Castro and Secretary Vilsack for their leadership in recognizing the impact of foundations across the country, I look forward to continuing our engagement with them in order to push for still greater collaboration.”

"An engaged and collaborative community can make a lasting impact on the causes of childhood obesity," said Susan Towler, vice president, Florida Blue Foundation, and executive director, Corporate Social Responsibility, Florida Blue. "The Embrace a Healthy Florida Initiative addressing the causes and prevention of childhood obesity has gone beyond traditional health and fitness programs to focus on education, parenting, child care, marketing practices and the physical environment. The strong public-philanthropic partnerships are making a positive difference in the long-term health of children and families today and for future generations."

Since 2008, when the Florida Blue Foundation launched Embrace a Healthy Florida, six targeted communities, along with numerous nonprofit organizations, families, youth and community partners across Florida, are addressing the causes and prevention of childhood obesity through community engagement, promising practices and applied research grants. Since the launch, nearly a quarter of a million children and families, many with limited financial resources, have taken part in programs and activities that encourage healthy food choices and physical activities.

The Embrace initiative is designed around seven success strategies: 1) targeted interventions with at-risk communities and low-income children; 2) increased access to healthy foods; 3) promote changes in parenting and families; 4) promote changes in child care or school settings; 5) promote changes in the environment; 6) address marketing and advertising practices; and 7) address health care providers and systems.

Awards were given to place-based funders for completed or ongoing initiatives that are executed in partnership with a local, regional, or federal government agency. 


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HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.  You can also follow HUD on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or sign up for news alerts on HUD’s Email List.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay)

An active philanthropic network, the Council on Foundations (www.cof.org), founded in 1949, is a nonprofit leadership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations.  It provides the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance and sustain their ability to advance the common good. With members from all foundation types and sizes, the Council empowers professionals in philanthropy to meet today’s toughest challenges and advances a culture of charitable giving in the U.S. and globally.

Florida Blue Foundation enables healthy communities by making grants, building coalitions and rewarding best practices. More than three million people in Florida have received direct health services as a result of grants made to nonprofit organizations since our founding in 2001. Florida Blue Foundation is a trade name of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation, Inc., an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.