How to Get a Grant From the Blue Shield of California Foundation

Blue Shield of California may have gone for-profit a couple of decades back (in the great/controversial Blue Cross Blue Shield conversion of the '90s), but the company does maintain a sizable charitable arm: the Blue Shield of California Foundation. The foundation has assets of more than $61 million and devotes approximately $24 million to charitable grants annually, per the Blue Shield of California Foundation's most recent tax documents. (See BSCF: Grants Health and Policy Access.)

In big Blue Shield of California Foundation news from Q2 2013: Some $5.3 million in grant money went to expand access to health care in California. Among the foundation's recent grants:

  • $530,000 to UCLA to research and make policy recommendations on enrolling low-income Californians in the state's new health benefit exchange, Medi-Cal (scheduled to begin on October 1 as part of the Affordable Care Act's implementation)
  • $252,000 to the Kaiser Family Foundation to survey low-income Californians on how the Affordable Care Act is affecting them and their access to care
  • $106,000 to the County of Santa Barbara Public Health Department to help transition local residents from currently operating low-income health-care programs to Medi-Cal

So how does the Blue Shield of California Foundation go about choosing recipients for its money? General guidelines are here, but some primary dos and don'ts: DO be a nonprofit or other organization engaged in charitable work; DO be involved in improving wellness for Californians (including through improved health services or through domestic violence reduction); DON'T propose a direct provision of medical services; DON'T look for event sponsorships; and DON'T go after money for overtly religious or political purposes.

Would-be grantees can find specific instructions on how to apply here. Essentially, you need to familiarize yourself with what the Blue Shield of California Foundation funds and submit a letter of inquiry. The foundation goes through the grant decision-making process twice annually. So if you're thinking about applying to get that California expanded health-care access grant funded, it's time to firm up that LOI.