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Health is much more than what happens at the doctor’s office. Our well-being is influenced by where we grow up, play, live, and work. That knowledge drives us to help our families and friends, neighbors and strangers build stronger, healthier communities.

Smiling mother and son

Explore Report


Learning where we can help

In 2019, we partnered with the Brown University School of Public Health to launch the RI Life Index. This annual statewide assessment captures Rhode Islanders’ perceptions of social determinants of health and well-being, such as education and housing. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, factors around healthcare became even more significant as it became more difficult—or people became less confident—to get the care they need.

people sharing

In 2021, for the first time, we had the data to report on trends occurring in our community between 2019 and 2021. This data demonstrated that BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) Rhode Islanders living in communities with the highest rates of poverty saw affordable housing and cost of living to be much greater barriers to their health and well-being than did white Rhode Islanders living in other areas.

Behind these numbers are our fellow Rhode Islanders, and we’ve focused our charitable giving on programs that address the problems they face, particularly the intersection of housing and health.

Learn how our neighbors see their world
This survey tells us a lot about the barriers the people of Rhode Island face every day to achieving health, especially people of color and people living in lower socioeconomic communities.
Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean, Brown University School of Public Health

Helping our neighbors find homes

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, too many Rhode Islanders faced housing insecurity and homelessness. The problem has become more urgent with the economic hardships the pandemic created. In 2021, we focused much of our community investment on organizations helping our neighbors find safe, affordable places to live.

Mother and children looking at a tablet screen
Photo: Courtesy of Lucy's Hearth

Community Health Grants

Tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders, including families and children, got help with housing through the nine organizations that received BlueAngel Community Health Grants from BCBSRI in 2021.

These grants, the cornerstone of our community investment program, fund programs that find housing for families, foster youth, and victims of domestic violence as well as programs that provide legal assistance.

2021 blueangel community health grant recipients

Amos HouseChild & FamilyFoster ForwardLucy's HearthOpen Doors Rhode IslandProvidence PHA Housing AuthorityCenter for JusticeRhode Island Legal ServicesSojourner House
invested in housing initiatives
Rhode Islanders helped
Smiling elderly couple.
Photo: ©Habitat for Humanity

Safer homes for aging adults

Many Rhode Islanders want to remain in their own homes as they age. But if older homeowners can’t adapt and maintain their homes, it can be difficult to live safely and comfortably. This year, BCBSRI supported the launch of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Providence’s new Aging in Place Program. Through this program, older Rhode Islanders are now receiving home modification, repair, and decluttering services almost daily, ensuring their homes will be safer and more affordable places to remain long-term.

“We could not be more proud to be considered partners with Blue Cross in making a difference in people’s lives.”
— Mark Kravatz, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Providence

1,500 additional housing units by 2024

More Rhode Islanders will have a place to call home thanks to a BCBSRI grant of $4 million to Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) over the next four years. This investment is the largest single grant in BCBSRI history, and it will support financing to produce and preserve housing, provide down payment assistance, and bolster community facilities.

Creating affordable housing requires significant investment, and this grant will serve as an anchor to leverage additional support and build a larger fund over time. It will allow LISC RI to do more, in more innovative ways, more quickly. Additionally, this investment illustrates the link between housing and health and the need to address these issues cooperatively.


Action plan for housing

The 2021 Housing Fact Book from HousingWorks RI explores housing’s intersections with health, education, and the economy. With support from BCBSRI, HousingWorks is developing an action plan for the next decade of housing for older Rhode Islanders, providing a blueprint for advocates to promote change in local and state laws and regulations to address these needs.

See the 2021 Housingworks RI Fact Book

Recommendations on children’s housing instability

Poor quality, unaffordable, or crowded housing can damage a child’s physical health, development, and emotional well-being. BCBSRI funded a 2021 Policy Brief from Rhode Island KIDS COUNT that highlights and explains the issue and offers recommendations for supporting children and families.

Read the recommendations

Celebrating a decade of dedication

With masks, hand sanitizer, safety procedures, and lots of enthusiasm, we held our 10th annual company-wide day of service—Blue across Rhode Island—on Friday, September 24. We partnered with 13 nonprofit organizations across the state that work to support the health and well-being of Rhode Islanders.

447 employees built houses and play spaces, assembled blankets, painted a senior center, and packaged footwear for children experiencing homelessness. In addition to volunteer support, each project site received a financial contribution of $5,000 to assist with their important work.

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“We are thrilled to say this is our 9th year of partnering with Blue across Rhode Island. I just want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being a part of this community and helping make the world a better place.”
— Nicholas Lowinger, Founder, Gotta Have Sole

10 Years of Blue Across
Rhode Island

agencies served
projects completed

Protecting members during the COVID-19 pandemic

In the second year of COVID-19, as we all faced the ups and downs of the pandemic, we continued to support our members with temporary benefits that helped them access care—with no added worries about cost.

How we encouraged members to get vaccinated

Test tube
  • Holding clinics at our retail stores and through Your Blue Bus
  • Sending communications about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines
  • Reaching out to high-risk members
  • Sharing information on Latino Public Radio
  • Leading by example with mandatory vaccinations for BCBSRI employees

For both employers and members, we coordinated with government officials to share up-to-date information about COVID-19–and their benefits–on our Keeping You Well and Well-Informed site.

people sharing

Temporary Benefits

coverage for COVID-19 testing*
coverage for COVID-19 treatment in network*

*Includes all fully insured plans. Not all self-funded employers have chosen to cover this benefit without cost share.


Making play a priority

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental and physical health of kids and being active makes a big difference in their well-being. Recess Rocks in Rhode Island—a six-year-old partnership between BCBSRI, Playworks, and the Rhode Island Healthy Schools Coalition—has helped educators pilot new approaches to incorporating safe and healthy play into their school day.

Recess Champions

In 2021, Recess Rocks started the Recess Champions program, which celebrates educators who have taken steps to prioritize play and social-emotional learning.

  • Coleen Smith, Principal of the Wakefield School in the South Kingstown school district
  • Craig Giarrusso, a physical education teacher at the Nathanael Greene Elementary School in Pawtucket
Smiling girl holding onto a playground rope.
Read more about the Recess Champions program

In the past 6 years

RI schools have improved the culture of their recess with Recess Rocks
students reaping the social, emotional, and physical benefits of play
Students and staff have been feeling isolated because of the masks and physical distancing requirements. Recess has given them time to be social and active—it’s the outdoor release and movement break.
Coleen Smith, Principal of the Wakefield School and Recess Rocks Champion

Providing access to healthy food

Too many of our neighbors cannot meet their basic food needs: 1 in 6 households, according to the RI Life Index. The risk of hunger is even higher for families with children, where 1 in 4 families do not have enough to eat. We worked with our partners to help address food security during this second year of the pandemic.

Healthy choices for a food desert

Southside Community Land Trust (SCLT) received a $2.158 million loan to support the organization’s work in bringing healthy and affordable food to Central Falls, Pawtucket, and South Providence. We were pleased to contribute a portion of these funds, alongside the Kresge Foundation and other local funders. The loan will finance SCLT’s new headquarters and Farm-to-Market Center in Providence. Along with other programs, SCLT provides leased land to urban and rural farmers and helps them sell their produce in low-income communities.

Grocery bags full of vegetables.
Photo: Courtesy of Southside Community Land Trust
It takes vision and creativity to make healthy food available in places where it is hard to find. This investment today will improve health outcomes for many years to come.
Margaret DeVos, Executive Director, Southside Community Land Trust
Smiling girl walking with hiking stick.

Improvements in childhood obesity rates

Since 2016, BCBSRI has been partnering with Rhode Island KIDS COUNT to track data on childhood obesity in Rhode Island. This year, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT released data showing that the percentage of children who are overweight or obese dropped from 35% in 2016 to 31% in 2019, with the largest decline among Hispanic children. However, that rate is expected to rise due to the impact of COVID-19.

“While we have been pleased to see an overall decline in the percentage of overweight and obesity among Rhode Island children over the years, we’re concerned about an increase related to the pandemic and the racial and ethnic disparities that have persisted over time.”
— Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT

Partnerships to alleviate hunger

meals delivered to older residents through Meals on Wheels of RI
meals served through Lunch on Us at McAuley House
raised through our annual fundraiser for the RI Food Bank

Donated by BCBSRI Employees


Giving to our community

For decades, BCBSRI has partnered with the United Way of Rhode Island to raise funds for their important work. In 2021, support of the United Way was critical to providing COVID-19 relief and necessary community support.