EDITOR’S NOTE: Mike is out this week, and he’s given the Straight Talk floor to another Mike – Michael Tipton, that is. Michael is president of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and head of Community Relations. This week, he’s sharing details on the great work he and his team are leading at Blue Cross.
Hello, Straight Talkers! I’m delighted to be a guest blogger for Mike this week to share news about Blue Cross’ and its Foundation’s responses to COVID-19, particularly related to grant making and charitable investments.
By way of quick background, I have the honor of serving as president of the Blue Cross Foundation and head of Blue Cross’ community efforts. And in that role, I see firsthand the amazing work of so many volunteers and nonprofits across the state. I come to this work from an education and nonprofit background, having been a teacher and a nonprofit leader for a decade prior to finding my way to Blue Cross. In fact, the work Blue Cross does in addressing critical community issues through grants and service was part of what drew me to this role.
So, let me tell you a bit about the work we’ve supported these past few months:
Community Crisis & Disaster Response Grants
Within days of the COVID-19 outbreak and shutdown, we heard from dozens of our nonprofit partners around the state about budget shortfalls and the real challenges they were facing in continuing to provide their lifesaving services. So, our Foundation board authorized a $5 million grant fund to support organizations working to provide food security, medical care, housing, mental health and economic support to Louisianians affected by the pandemic.
To date, we’ve given more than $4 million in grant awards to nonprofits across Louisiana who are meeting needs in response to COVID-19. We continue to receive and process applications from nonprofits who are providing essential services that are keeping families afloat, and we are immensely proud of our nonprofit partners for their agile and powerful response to the overwhelming challenges our state is facing.
You can see my update on grants we’ve awarded since March 2020 through the Foundation in this video (2:11).
Making virtual volunteering a reality for everyone
For years, we’ve had a successful pro-bono volunteer program at Blue Cross, called Blue Corps. Employees donate their time, talent and professional expertise through Blue Corps to serve nonprofits in addressing their organizational, strategic or infrastructure needs.
For example, an HR professional could assist a nonprofit with creating its employee handbook, or a digital media professional could advise a nonprofit on how to make videos or create effective social media content.
With COVID-19 and the shift toward virtual volunteering, we’ve heard from many – both volunteers and nonprofits – that they want new ways to support important efforts in their communities and across Louisiana, and we wanted to make it easier for them to connect.
That’s why we’ve partnered with the Taproot Foundation, which is a leader in this space, to bring our BlueCorps program online, using their Taproot Plus platform.
We are opening this platform to all Louisiana nonprofits, and just as importantly, volunteers from any business anywhere in Louisiana. If you’re an individual with business skills, or a business owner who wants to encourage employees to volunteer, this is a meaningful way to give back that will help nonprofits advance their mission.
If you or your employees sign up with your work email address, we can even provide limited reporting on the number of hours given that you can report as an in-kind donation, including the value of those hours.
We are launching the platform this week at louisiana.taprootplus.org, where you can register as either a nonprofit or a volunteer. It’s easy and, as our partners have told us over the years, it’s some of the most effective work you can do as a volunteer to move the needle on a cause you care about.
Other work and The Civic 50
In addition to our funding support, we are proud that our Team Blue volunteers have continued serving Louisiana nonprofits, whether through personal monetary donations, virtual volunteering, participation in online events, sewing face masks or making other goods that are in demand, and in many other ways.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana was honored to be recognized recently among this year’s Civic 50 honorees by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service.
This is the second year in a row we’ve been on the list of the 50-most community-minded companies in the United States. We are excited to see recognized the outstanding work of our employees, who gave 35,000 hours of volunteer service in 2019.
And, we are proud to share our Civic 50 recognition with Entergy; we are the two Louisiana-based companies on this year’s list.
As we consider the tremendous needs across Louisiana, both COVID-related and those that have been persistent for years, we are proud of the thousands of nonprofits, volunteers and business partners who have stepped up to give back to their communities. We stand with you in our commitment to service and giving, and are humbled by those who trust us to be a part of this important work.
— Michael Tipton