One of the most important things that we do at the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health is listen. During the past few years dominated by a global pandemic, we heard a familiar chorus from cities, organizations, fellow nonprofits and just about everyone we encounter.

There is a need to unite communities.

Courtney Frost is a Senior Program Officer for the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health.

That’s why the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health launched The Community Project, a pilot grant designed to unite leaders and residents to define, design, and create outdoor spaces that bring people together.

We are awarding several communities the opportunity to define, design and create a tangible project that would be chosen and promoted via thoughtful community engagement. Idahoans love the outdoors and their parks, so we’re expecting projects in those areas that would be accessible to all community members, keeping children and families in mind.

The Foundation grants are up to $85,000 per project and include technical assistance to assist with community engagement efforts, project management and communications. We will plan an event — groundbreaking, grand opening, etc. — to bring people together and celebrate the project.

The community engagement component to The Community Project is the real impact. It gives cities a positive reason to solicit opinions and ideas from citizens who will help decide how to improve the local environment through an outdoor space that can bring people together.

Judging by the interest, cities are eager to bring their communities together around an outdoor gathering place. We hosted two informational webinars that nearly 100 individuals attended. We had more than 75 applications from 36 different Idaho counties. Applications are being reviewed, and I can tell you, we are going to have the difficult task of choosing the grantees.

The Community Project is allowing us to learn more about so many communities across Idaho, most of which we haven’t had the pleasure of working with yet. It’s exciting to start building relationships with these cities and listen. These conversations and interactions are about more than this grant — they are input and feedback that the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health will take to heart for future strategic work.

In this sense, The Community Project is already a success. We are busy reviewing each proposal that we received. We will notify all applicants of our difficult decisions later this month.

You can learn more about The Community Project by visiting our website.

Courtney Frost is a Senior Program Officer for the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health who oversees the Community focus area, which includes the Mayor’s Walking Challenge, The Community Project, Community Health Academy and Community Transformation Grants.