BCBSIL Health Equity Grant banner

Health Equity Grant Program Overview

The American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Institute for Diversity and Health Equity (IFDHE) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) are committed to eliminating health care disparities by ensuring individuals in every community receive high-quality, equitable and safe care. As a part of this commitment, IFDHE and BCBSIL are co-sponsoring a grant to extend financial support for one year to 13 AHA member hospitals that are part of the BCBSIL provider networks. This funding seeks applicants with projects that focus on maternal and child health, pediatric asthma, adult diabetes, breast cancer, and/or geographic disparities, including rural areas.


One of the four overarching goals of Healthy People 2020, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services initiative, is to achieve health equity, eliminate disparities and improve health of all groups. Health equity is influenced in part by the social determinants of health (economic stability, education, health care, neighborhood and built environmental).

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health:

  • Black women are three times as likely to die within a year of pregnancy compared to women of any other racial ethnic group.
  • Across the state of Illinois, women living in rural counties and in the city of Chicago have the highest rate of pregnancy-associated mortality.
  • In the state of Illinois, infant mortality among non-Hispanic black women is at least two to three times higher, when compared to non-Hispanic white women.
  • The rates of childhood asthma inpatient hospitalization and emergency department visits were highest among young non-Hispanic black children.
  • In Illinois, there is a disparity in breast cancer mortality rates per 100,000 between black (31.3) and white (19.6) women, with rates that are also notably lower among Hispanic (14.1) women, comparatively.
  • African American, Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native people are two to three times more likely to have diabetes.
  • In Illinois, there are physician shortages in rural counties with 45.5 per 100,000 primary care physicians compared to 87.1 per 100,000 in large urban counties. Rural residents with limited primary care access may not receive preventive screenings that can lead to early detection and treatment of disease.

AHA’s IFDHE is launching a national initiative to catalyze improvement in health and health care equity, as well as promote diversity and inclusion across the health care field.

Leading organizations are addressing the unique needs of their employees, patients and communities. In today’s changing health care landscape, hospitals and health systems realize that this work is not only a moral also key to succeeding under population health and value-based care.

Grant Criteria 

The hospitals selected for this grant are considered pioneers in the field of health equity and agreed to participate in the following activities:

  • Sign the #123forEquityPledge to Act 
  • Increase the collection, stratification and use of race, ethnicity, language preference and other sociodemographic data to improve quality and safety
  • Increase cultural competency training to ensure culturally responsive care
  • Advance diversity in leadership and governance to reflect the communities served
  • Improve and strengthen community partnerships
  • Complete a performance improvement project that promotes health equity according to a potential project intervention 

Grant awards are available for up to one year in the amounts of:

  • $25,000 -  Tier 1
  • $75,000 - Tier 2
  • $100,000 - Tier 3