Courtney Frost
Program Officer for the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health

The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health established Community Transformation Grants (CTG) for Idaho cities that are motivated to make infrastructure and policy changes designed to improve the health of the community’s youth.

The CTG offers benefits far beyond the $250,000 check.

While the grant money ultimately will fund a system change or infrastructure improvement, it’s what leads up to the funding that helps mobilize communities to make transformational changes.

I’ve seen this firsthand. The partnerships that develop within communities during our CTG process outlast the length of the grant, and that’s how long-lasting change happens. The CTG process ends, but those relationships continue for the good of the community.

Orofino and Twin Falls, our 2019 CTG recipients, are about to embark on a three-year journey in CTG. Our two-phase approach to CTG helps communities become healthier places for youth. The phases are:

– Technical Assistance and Capacity Building
– Funding and Execution

In the first phase, we are engaging communities around community health and finding what that looks like in their community. Past CTG recipients rallied community champions from different sectors — city staff, land trusts, university extension offices, educators, hospitals and business leaders — to form partnerships to learn and gain an understanding of the community’s assets, needs and opportunities.

They don’t have to do it alone, either. The CTG includes working with national experts on walkability and nutrition, plus a facilitator and partnership development tools to help formulate a grant strategy.

A strategy is important. Because community health can be such a wide-ranging topic, it’s crucial that during the technical assistance and capacity building phase that the community leaders narrow the focus and identify a shared vision for the grant.

I can’t stress enough the importance this collaboration and understanding. The Foundation intentionally doesn’t distribute any of the grant funds until this process is completed.

The funding and execution phase is when the plan goes into motion. We’ve seen communities build skate parks, synthetic ice rinks, indoor discovery centers. In addition to physical projects, CTG has helped cities craft trail plans, as well as bicycle and pedestrian plans that improve connectivity and provider safer routes for children to get to school. Cities also have been able to update their comprehensive plans thanks to CTG funds.

We are looking forward to seeing Orofino and Twin Falls engage in the process and rally the communities. We hope they follow in the footsteps of other CTG cities that were able to leverage their grant money into matching funds or other grants to help transform their communities.