CHCB, Inc. Receives $250,000 Highmark Blue Fund Grant to Expand Lockport Behavioral Health Services

Dr. Ansari and Dr. Heider accept a “check” for $250,000 from Dr. Michael Edbauer, President, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York.


Total Community Investment Announced by Highmark is $3.1 Million, with Focus on East Buffalo

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York today announced $3.1 million in Blue Fund grants to support 16 major health-based projects across Western New York.

The Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. —  represented by Dr. LaVonne Ansari, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, and Dr. Arvela Heider, Chief Innovation Officer – was the recipient of a $250,000 Blue Fund grant to expand access to comprehensive, affordable health care, with a focus on integrating behavioral health services to address the unmet needs of 6,000 children and adults in Lockport each year. (Watch for more information to come on CHCB, Inc.’s Lockport expansion plans.)

The annual grant program is designed to have a positive impact on behavioral health, cardiovascular health, health care workforce development, maternal health, and healthy children.

This year’s recipients include several organizations dedicated to helping the community after the May 14 Tops shooting.

Today’s announcement was made at grant recipient Gerard Place, where a new program will provide education and support to pregnant women of color in Buffalo. Additionally, the funds will help expand food distribution, renovate a Behavioral Health Center, and greatly expand food distribution in East Buffalo.

Blue Fund’s total investment in Western New York communities is nearly $15 million over the past five years. The health plan has made a commitment to invest $7 million annually through the Blue Fund and other community investments and partnerships.

To honor the health plan’s overall commitment to charitable giving and community involvement, it also introduced a new program called Highmark Bright Blue Futures. This program encapsulates the company’s grantmaking and employee volunteer efforts for the enterprise’s regional giving throughout its footprint, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, and New York. As part of the announcement, Highmark BCBSWNY employees spent this morning volunteering at various organizations in Erie and Niagara counties.

“Funding initiatives that align with our mission through Blue Fund and nonprofit giving, building strong non-profit partnerships, and encouraging our team members to pay it forward whenever possible define our overall commitment to the community,” said Michael Ball, Vice President, Community Affairs, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York. “Every day, we see the impact of our Blue Fund investments in the community and are proud to invest an additional $3.1 million to help fund these extraordinary nonprofit partners and programs.”

Highmark BCBSWNY launched the Blue Fund in July 2018 to support organizations and initiatives that work collaboratively to address key health areas and demonstrate enhanced measurable outcomes for the community.


Below are the recipients of the 2022 Blue Fund Grants:


  1. Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology, $150,000 to support the Adult Workforce Training in High-Demand Allied Health Professions program, which will train up to 75 underemployed adults for careers with family-sustaining wages.


  1. Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers, $125,000 to support an after-school and summer program supporting at-risk youth and provide nutrition instruction and health and fitness options to help children.


  1. Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network, Inc., $150,000 to support the enhancement of the Community Health Worker Program to reduce risk factors and empower families to achieve healthy, successful lives.


  1. Community Action of Orleans and Genesee, $250,000 to support a county-wide nutritional-health program that will provide low-income families with kitchen kits, nutritional education, and vouchers to redeem locally grown produce.


  1. Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc., $250,000 to expand access to comprehensive, affordable health care, with a focus on integrating behavioral health services to address the unmet needs of 6,000 children and adults in Lockport each year.


  1. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County, $100,000 to further support the Healthy Corner Store Initiative by empowering and educating youth, adults, and families in under-resourced neighborhoods about healthier food options.


  1. D’Youville University, $250,000 to support The Pathways Program, a healthcare workforce training initiative offered to economically disadvantaged people who have historically been excluded from educational and financial opportunity.


  1. Endeavor Health Services, $250,000 to support the renovation of the outpatient behavioral health services at the Jesse Nash Health Center located at 608 William St. in East Buffalo.


  1. Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc., $200,000 to expand case management and extend transportation coordination and housing for people with substance use disorder in Genesee and Orleans counties.


  1. Gerard Place, $150,000 to support the Healthy Moms and Babies Club, which provides education and support to pregnant women of color in Buffalo.


  1. Groundwork Buffalo, Inc., $100,000 to combat food insecurity, vacant lots, brown fields, and food deserts in East Buffalo through education and community gardens.


  1. Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, $200,000 to establish the first community-based doula program in the under-served City of Niagara Falls. It will provide doula services, in combination with social determinant of health strategies, to combat disparities resulting from race and income status and to improve childbirth outcomes and maternal health.


  1. Open Space Institute Land Trust, $250,000 to create, design and build much-needed green play spaces in Buffalo’s Roosevelt Park. This will provide healthy recreation, exercise, and relaxation, to children and community residents who currently may not have access to the benefits of a well-designed, community-focused green and open space.


  1. Ralph Wilson Park Conservancy, $250,000 to support The Play Garden, a community-driven initiative integral to the transformation of Ralph Wilson Park. The project will create a destination playground for active-imaginative play while promoting a strong connection with Buffalo.


  1. The Jacobs Institute, Inc., $150,000 to address disparities surrounding stroke intervention and outcomes through research in collaboration with UB and Kaleida Health.


  1. Western New York Land Conservancy, Inc., $300,000 to support the purchase of a 37-acre farm with Providence Farm Collective, where nearly 300 refugee, immigrant, and Black farmers will grow healthy food for their communities; make the farm sustainable; and increase access to healthy food and employment for youth.

To learn more about Blue Fund, visit

About Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York is a trade name of Highmark Western and Northeastern New York Inc., an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Since 1936, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York has helped millions of people lead healthier lives. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield offers a full range of insured, self-insured, and government programs and services covering businesses, families, and individuals, as well as dental and vision plans and stop-loss coverage. As a community-based, not-for-profit health plan, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield contributes significantly to organizations that strengthen and enrich the health of the community.

For up-to-date news, facts, and information about the company, leadership, and industry, please visit or follow on Twitter.

About Blue Fund

Blue Fund, funded solely by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, awards major grants in Western New York annually to organizations and initiatives that have a positive impact on key health areas and will demonstrate enhanced measurable outcomes for community health metrics. These include behavioral health, cardiovascular health, diabetes, health care workforce development, healthy children and maternal health.  Blue Fund complements Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield’s current corporate giving program of partnerships and sponsorships.


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