The Wellmark Foundation Announces 2008 Funding Opportunities
for Iowa and South Dakota Organizations
March 11, 2008
(Des Moines, Iowa) – The Wellmark Foundation
board of directors recently announced childhood obesity prevention and
community-based wellness and prevention as the funding focus areas for
its philanthropy. This marks a departure from the Foundation’s
previously established disease-based grant funding priorities and seeks
to encourage a greater emphasis on primary prevention activities that
communities can advance. Applicants may request project funding from
The Wellmark Foundation during its two annual grant cycles in 2008.
According to Dana McNeill, executive director of The Wellmark Foundation,
childhood obesity is a complex topic involving genetic, behavioral, and
environmental factors. Prevention and mitigation efforts may be incorporated
into home, health care, child care, school, and community settings.
“Together we can change childhood obesity in our communities,” says
McNeill. “Individuals, families, communities, schools, youth service
organizations, public health, media and government all need to determine
their roles and take action to prevent and decrease the number of overweight
and obese children.”
Examples of project ideas communities may undertake with Foundation
- Efforts to ensure daily, quality physical education in all school
- Initiatives to reduce time spent watching television, playing
video games, and participating in other similar sedentary activities.
that build physical activity and playtimes into regular routines
for children and families striving to achieve recommended
levels of physical
activity each day.
- Efforts to make community infrastructure
(built environment) more available and accessible for physical activity
- Initiatives to promote healthy food choices, such
as consuming recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
to ensure schools provide healthy foods and beverages on campus and
at school events.
- Efforts to promote culturally appropriate interventions
to address disparities in the prevalence of childhood
overweight and obesity
among various racial,
ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, and age groups.
to educate expectant parents about the benefits of breastfeeding,
including lower likelihood of infants
becoming overweight as they grow
- Projects designed to educate health care providers
and health professional students in the prevention
- Efforts that emphasize the consumer’s
role in making wise food and physical activity choices
by providing age-appropriate
through schools, youth service organizations, and family
and community settings.
- Initiatives that address issues
of healthy food access, dietary choices, and health by improving
“The Foundation is equally interested in funding community-based
wellness and prevention projects,” says McNeill. “We’ll
seek to support communities as they develop, implement, and enhance a
broad spectrum of local level wellness and prevention programs. Such
programs will focus on prevention rather than treatment and reflect the
priority health needs of the community.”
Examples of project ideas
communities may undertake with Foundation support include:
of various cancer screenings, especially efforts to promote the
use of or access to cancer screenings.
- Maternal and child health initiatives,
especially programs that encourage
participation of high-risk mothers in prenatal care.
initiatives to promote wellness in the elderly population, including
exercise, diet, and regular medical visits.
- Injury prevention.
- Community-based initiatives to encourage establishment
of a medical home for children.
- Social marketing programs that encourage
healthy behaviors or address specific risk behaviors (substance abuse,
youth risk behaviors).
Letters of Interest requesting project funding are due to The Wellmark
Foundation on April 2, 2008, for Grant Cycle 1, and August 21, 2008,
for Grant Cycle 2. Visit The Wellmark Foundation’s Web site at
www.wellmark.com/foundation for complete instructions on how to apply
for a grant.
“The Wellmark Foundation collaborates with non-profit and governmental
organizations in Iowa and South Dakota to build healthier communities.
We are pleased our funding can support community-based projects that
address childhood obesity prevention and wellness initiatives, and we
are excited to see how communities across our two states propose to utilize
this philanthropic support,” says McNeill.
The Wellmark Foundation is a private, non-profit foundation created
by Wellmark, Inc., doing business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield
of Iowa. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and The Wellmark Foundation
are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.