Originally published at newsroom.cigna.com. Cigna ranked No. 24 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.
The Cigna Foundation announced more than $3 million in grants to local nonprofits to help address childhood hunger and mental health concerns as schools return to session. Innovative programs spanning communities in 16 states will receive critical financial support enabling them to positively impact thousands of children across the country.
Grant recipients are addressing some of the toughest challenges facing school-aged children and their families, including the rise in mental health issues and food insecurity — both of which worsened due to the pandemic. Research from Economist Impact, commissioned by Cigna Corporation, found that approximately 80% of working parents surveyed reported some form of impact on the mental health of their teenage children as a result of the pandemic, including new or increased levels of anxiety, depression, behavioral issues and problems with social interactions.
More than 12 million children in the United States are food insecure and do not have consistent access to healthy food. According to Feeding America, the pandemic exacerbated food insecurity, particularly for families with children and communities of color.
Some of the programs that the Cigna Foundation is partnering with this year are:
Weekend Feeding Backpack Program – Using smartphone technology to help reduce stigma and food waste, this program through the Brashear Association, allows families at Pittsburgh Arlington and Pittsburgh Grandview schools to select culturally diverse food options as well as receive text messages with healthy meal recipes and nutrition tips.
Outdoor G.I.R.L.S. – Operated through Women’s Wilderness Institute in Boulder, Colorado, this program leverages the transformative power of the outdoors and physical activity, in conjunction with trauma-informed practices and clinical support, to improve mental health outcomes for adolescent girls who identify as immigrants and refugees. Outdoor G.I.R.L.S. (Girl Immigrant and Refugee Leadership Series) looks to address the social, cultural, geographical and economic barriers to participation in outdoor and physical activities that immigrant and refugee girls face.
Kid’s Cafe – A healthy school pantry located at Northaven Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee, and operated by the Mid-South Food Bank provides students in need and their families with a monthly box of nutritious food that is easily accessible, providing the equivalent of 42 meals per month. The cafe also provides hot meals to take home every other Friday. Additional programs include Family Night where families will have access to fresh produce and other items, such as laundry detergent, tissues and paper towels, as well as Food for Kids Backpack Program, which includes food for the weekend and extended school breaks.
Amped Ecosystem – The Humanities Amped Ecosystem at Broadmoor High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, links social-emotional learning with opportunities for youth to use their voices through healing-centered and culturally responsive practices, including restorative practices, mind-body medicine, arts integration, project-based learning and peer-led engagement. Before and after school programs, such as arts and civics engagement and peer-to-peer activities, are also part of this initiative.
All grants are made available through Cigna Foundation’s Healthier Kids For Our Future program, a five-year, $25 million global initiative focused on improving the health and well-being of children. Since its inception in 2019, the program has awarded more than $18 million in grants.