April 20, 2024 3:28 am

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CHPW donates $250k to local organizations who advance equity

SEATTLE, Wash., December 15, 2023Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW), a not-for-profit healthcare insurance agency, recently awarded 25 different community-based local organizations its 2023 Advancing Equity Fund grant totaling $250,000—including three in Snohomish County.

CHPW has provided a total of $980,000 to 68 different Washington organizations since 2020. The grants typically focus on health, including systemic social determinants of health, and improving the health outcomes for individuals through a broad range of services, the not-for-profit says.

The three grant recipients located in Snohomish County include Lutheran Community Services NW, Everett-based Refugee and Immigrant Services NW, and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project which is headquartered in Seattle but services Snohomish County at large. Each organization received $10,000 as unrestricted funds.

This year CHPW’s grant was focused on community-based organizations that specialize in serving the area’s growing number of immigrants and refugees, as well as Indigenous and Native people with the intent of expanding the service scope and aid immigrants, refugees, and native people across Washington.

Washington had an estimated total immigrant population of 1,149,000 in 2021, according to a May 2023 report by the Washington’s Office of Financial Management.

Leanne Berge, Esq

“CHPW recognizes that advancing health equity can only be achieved when we act collectively, by partnering with community organizations to meet the diverse needs of people from different cultures and nationalities,” said Leanne Berge, CEO of Community Health Plan of Washington. “We are grateful to and humbled by this year’s grant recipients who provide direct, culturally appropriate services that support the health and well-being of our communities. By working together and learning from one another, we can create opportunities for everyone to achieve their best health.”

CHPW offers Apple Health (Medicaid), Medicare Advantage, and Individual and Family Plans on the health exchange. Founded by Community Health Centers across the state, CHPW aims to work closely with community-led organizations to ensure that all people—regardless of race, ethnicity, immigrant status, disability, age, gender orientation, or income—have an equitable opportunity to achieve their best health and well-being, according to the not-for-profit.

The Advancing Equity grant program was established to support CHPW’s critical partners in a combined effort to support marginalized communities who often experience the greatest health disparities. Recipients are often organizations that work on meeting these community’s everyday needs like housing, food, work, and education.

Meg Olberding

“This fund was developed during COVID when we saw a need for community-based organizations serving minoritized communities who were really on the frontlines of the pandemic and really needed assistance,” Meg Olberding, Senior Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications at CHPW, told the Lynnwood Times.

Recipients were notified of the grant in the first week of November.

In addition to distributing $250,000 to organizations focused on aiding marginalized communities this year, CHPW will also be working with its community health care centers on a collaborative grant of $50,000 which will go toward identifying and addressing barriers of care for BIPOC and underserved community members.

“It really is helping us collaborate on programs that specifically meet the needs of their [health care partners] particular community so it’s not a one-sized fits all,” said Olberding. “The nice thing about it is we help convene them through collaborative meetings where we share best practices and what we’re learning surrounding these topics, so they’re really learning from one another as well as engaging in how things are changing to better learn how to serve.”

Lutheran Community Services, a recipient of the grant, informed the Lynnwood Times they have experienced a tremendous influx of refugees lately, particularly from Ukraine and Afghanistan, and plan to use the funds to go towards connecting them to core services including housing (and rental assistance), medical, job search, government services, and more.

“We’re definitely taxed. We went from 890 [refugees] to about 2,200 which is a vast difference when you’re talking about the actual people who are serving these folks in our three locations,” Kelly McDonald, Advancement Manager, told the Lynnwood Times.

McDonald continued that the specific allocation of the funds has yet to be determined but the funds will essentially be pooled in an unrestricted reserve fund and used for “all of the things that are unplanned for outside of the budget.”

Aziz Zaheer, Program Coordinator at Lutheran Community Services, shared a personal story about how Lutheran Community aided a family who had fled their home country because they wanted their children to have access to unrestricted higher education. He said when they picked them up for the airport they were in tears because they could now have access to education and could be examples of their friends and family back home.

Lutheran Community Services Northwest began nearly 100 years ago in Tacoma, Washington, offering healing, help, and hope when crises strike. The community-based organization assists vulnerable children, families, refugees and others meet life’s most difficult challenges and thrive in communities that are healthy, just, and hopeful.

Lutheran Community Services serves more than 40,000 people each year across Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

The total list of recipients, who received $10,000 each from the CHPW grant fund, are:

  • Afghan Health Initiative (King)
  • Asian Pacific Islanders Coalition Together for Health (King)
  • Asian Pacific Islanders Coalition (Yakima)
  • CAFÉ (Community for the Advancement of Family Education) (North Central Grant) 
  • Community 2 Community (North Sound)
  • Congolese Integration Network (CIN) (King)
  • Ethnic Support Council (Clark) 
  • Global to Local (King)
  • Immigrant Resources & Immediate Support (IRIS) (North Sound)
  • International Rescue Committee (King)
  • Kitsap Immigration Assistance Center (Salish Kitsap) 
  • La Casa Hogar (Yakima) 
  • Latino Community Fund (Yakima) 
  • Lutheran Community Services NW (Pierce, King, Snohomish, Clark, Kitsap, Clallam, Benton, Franklin and Spokane) 
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Whatcom)
  • Pacific Islander Health Board (Statewide)
  • Pacific Northwest Uganda American Association (PNUAA) (Pierce, King) 
  • Refugee & Immigrant Services NW (North Sound Snohomish)
  • Thrive International (Spokane)
  • Unidos Nueva Alianza (North Central Grant)
  • World Relief (Greater Columbia/Tri-Cities Spokane)

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