Funding Supports the Vandal Promise Scholarship and Creates the Blue Cross of Idaho Rural Initiative Scholarship to Address the Rural Physician Shortage in Idaho

The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health announced a $1.5 million donation to two University of Idaho scholarship programs. The University of Idaho will split the donation between the University of Idaho’s Vandal Promise Scholarship and Idaho’s WWAMI Medical Education Program.

“This generous donation from the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health is an investment in both Idaho students and our state’s shared livelihood,” University of Idaho President Scott Green said. “We’re grateful for the support of both our Idaho WWAMI Medical Education Program and our Vandal Promise Scholarship – contributions that will maintain student accessibility to the University of Idaho that will enable them to attend, persist and graduate ready to serve this great state. We’re proud to enter into this collaboration with the foundation for Idaho’s premier health care insurance provider that will continue to benefit Idaho and its students for years to come.”

Blue Cross of Idaho President and CEO Charlene Maher said the donation is a commitment to Idaho’s future.

“The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health is pleased to partner with the University of Idaho to make a long-term investment in the young men and women in our state,” said Ralph Woodard, President of Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. “Over the next decade, as Idaho continues to grow, we must make every effort to keep our future leaders – our doctors, nurses, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and inventors – here in Idaho. Education, health and food are three ways our communities remain connected. Our contribution to the next generation of leaders helps ensure thee young men and women have the tools to keep Idahoans healthy and strong.”

Nearly seven-out-of-10 Idaho families cannot afford one year of college. The University of Idaho assists those families through its Vandal Promise Scholarship program. These critical scholarships provide additional aid and grant support that help students who fall short of what is needed to cover the cost of education.

The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health has committed a total of $1 million over the next ten years to support the Vandal Promise Scholarship program, allowing 20 financially challenged students from Idaho per year to pursue their educational goals. This year, the Vandal Promise Scholarship program had a 100% retention rate from fall to spring semester. The overall average GPA for the Vandal Promise Scholar students is 3.56 and their average fall term GPA is 3.43.

Dakota Brown, a U of I student from Lewiston majoring in English and Secondary Education, said receiving a Vandal Promise Scholarship has allowed her to pursue her degree at U of I.

“Without the scholarship, I don’t know that I would have been able to attend school. What this means to me is an education, and I am very thankful for it,” she said.

Additionally, the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health is donating $500,000 to support ten scholarships each year to Idaho’s WWAMI Medical Education Program over the next five years. Eligible recipients will be Idaho residents enrolled full-time in the University of Idaho’s WWAMI program, who have a passion for practicing rural medicine in Idaho.

WWAMI is a 49-year-old partnership with the University of Washington School of Medicine and the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. Students who enter the program are dually enrolled at the University of Idaho and the University of Washington School of Medicine and complete the Foundations Phase of medical school.

Graduates of WWAMI have taken residencies and fellowships across Idaho and in a variety of different practices such as family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics. According to graduation data, nearly 75 percent of total regional WWAMI graduates practice or have practiced medicine in Idaho.