UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, is awarding $1 million in Empowering Health grants to four community-based organizations in Washington state to expand access to care and address the social determinants of health for uninsured individuals and underserved communities.
In total, UnitedHealthcare is donating $11 million in grants through its Empowering Health program across 11 states. The grants will assist individuals and families experiencing challenges from food insecurity, social isolation and behavioral health issues, and support local health promotion and health literacy efforts.
Grant recipients in Washington include:
- University of Washington School Mental Health Assessment, Research, and Training (SMART) Center in partnership with the Richland and Medical Lake School Districts –$600,000 to strengthen an evidence-based comprehensive school mental health model. This interconnected approach will increase participation and active engagement of community partners, educators, families and youth, with an emphasis on suicide prevention, supporting the mental health strengths and needs of more than 15,500 students across the two school districts.
- The American Indian Community Center, Goodheart Behavioral Health, Spokane – $150,000 to hire a mental health clinician who specializes in therapeutic interventions for the Native American community and increase the number of community members served.
- Perinatal Support Washington, statewide – $162,500 to train and employ more interns and therapists from various racial and ethnic backgrounds to address gaps in perinatal mental health care for Medicaid-eligible and pro bono clients who have difficulty finding providers.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Yakima, Yakima, Wapato and Toppenish – $87,500 to expand the “Ending the Silence” mental health awareness program and ensure it is culturally relevant and responsive for Native American and Hispanic high school students in school districts on the Yakama Reservation.
“Social and economic factors have a profound impact on achieving and maintaining good health,” said Genevieve Caruncho-Simpson, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Washington. “Through our Empowering Health grants and local outreach efforts from UnitedHealthcare, we’re working with local organizations in the state to provide Washington residents with an interconnected system of clinical and social services that can produce better health outcomes and make the health system work better for everyone.”
According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, approximately 80% of what influences a person’s health relates to nonmedical issues, such as food, housing, transportation and the financial means to pay for basic daily needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused additional social and economic challenges that continue to affect healthy behaviors and exacerbate health disparities.
More than a third of members screened by UnitedHealthcare for social-related needs experience at least one social determinant of health. UnitedHealthcare leverages the company’s data to identify health disparities according to race, ethnicity, gender, geography and education level.
Since launching its Empowering Health commitment in 2018, UnitedHealthcare has now invested more than $51 million in Empowering Health grants reaching more than 8 million people through partnerships with community-based organizations in 30 states and the District of Columbia.
UnitedHealth Group, including UnitedHealthcare and Optum, and its affiliated companies, is dedicated to advancing health equity and building healthier communities by supporting programs to improve access to care and address key determinants of health. In Washington this includes more than $5.8 million in contributions from 2019-2021 representing its businesses, foundations and employees, including a $3.3 million grant in 2021 to the North Olympic Healthcare Network to improve behavioral health care on the Olympic Peninsula.
Additionally, UnitedHealth Group has invested more than $800 million in affordable housing communities since 2011, partnered with food banks and meal-delivery services, and in 2019 joined with the American Medical Association to standardize how social determinants of health data is collected and used to create more holistic care plans. In June, the United Health Foundation, the philanthropic foundation of UnitedHealth Group, made a $100 million commitment over 10 years to advance health equity, furthering its efforts to eliminate health disparities. This was the largest single philanthropic commitment ever made by the United Health Foundation.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.5 million physicians and care professionals, and more than 6,700 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @UHC on Twitter.