Community Scholars Program Receives Boost from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
A $100,000 gift from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has launched a new endowed scholarship fund at Boston University School of Public Health.
The new fund is designed to support the BUSPH Community Scholars Program, which enables experienced public health professionals to pursue part-time study for a master’s degree in public health while continuing their full-time employment. This program, now in its twelfth year, provides a financial boost to students involved with BUSPH’s cornerstone applied practice approach toward public health education.
BUSPH Dean Robert Meenan said the Community Scholars Program has aided students working in community health centers, insurance companies, hospital systems and government agencies – organizations that, in turn, have benefitted from staff members trained in advanced sets of tools for addressing real-world challenges.
The program, Dean Meenan said, is “very relevant at this key point in our Commonwealth’s history – a point at which leadership and staff capacity in our public health and health care agencies is particularly critical as those agencies strive mightily to adapt to major health insurance reforms and to major health payment reforms.”
The Community Scholars Endowed Scholarship Fund, although started with the gift from Blue Cross Blue Shield, will remain open to contributions from any philanthropic or industry leaders interested in the education of a strong public health workforce for the Boston area.
“We try to think of ways that we can be innovative in the work that we do from a community investment perspective ,” said Jeffrey Bellows, senior director of corporate citizenship for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. “This gift aligned well with our four areas of focus: healthy child development, education enrichment, healthy environments and family nutrition, and sustainable health care.”
Scholarship applicants must have at least two years of experience and be currently employed full-time in public health related nonprofits or government agencies. Students chosen as Community Scholars must remain employed and agree to pursue their MPH on a part-time basis.
“Hopefully, as the individuals go through this program, they’ll be able to graduate and be able to affect the broader good,” Bellows said. “Whenever we can do these kinds of things, we feel very fortunate that we can help programs – and students – succeed.”
In 2013, Blue Cross Blue Shield plans to invest about $6 million in about 500 non-profit organizations across the state.