2020 - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation Annual Report
We continue to inform and elevate discussions on the key health care issue of access to coverage that the Foundation has long been known for. In 2018 we also deepened our focus on access to critical health care and community services.
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BCBS Annual Report 2020

A Year to Respond, Evolve, and Act

2020 Annual Report

Message from Our Leadership


The year 2020 was an extraordinary one for all of us. In the face of so much loss and instability, it is natural that many of us had moments of feeling stuck, or even defeated. But as we took time to honor and acknowledge the losses and challenges, we also witnessed Massachusetts respond to pressing needs, evolve our ways of thinking, and act toward measurable change. Throughout 2020, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation looked for ways to join and support those efforts by centering the voices of those closest to the impact.

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In 2020 we responded to urgent threats to our Commonwealth’s residents, community-based organizations, and health care system, by providing funding, pragmatic policy analysis, and accessible opportunities for learning.

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Responding to the Pandemic

The Foundation’s grant partners were at the forefront of the response to COVID-19 and we supported both our existing partners and new organizations by redirecting our Catalyst Fund and Special Initiatives grants to focus on communities hardest hit by the pandemic. We created flexibility within in our Connecting Consumers to Care grant program to allow those organizations to respond to community needs for COVID-19 education, screening, and vaccination. Our Strengthening the Voice for Access grant partners pressed decisionmakers to address inequities in COVID-19 policies and response. We engaged organizations serving homeless and immigrant clients to provide telehealth services, financial support, and food through our Special Initiatives grants.


Hear more from our grant partners about how Foundation funding allowed them to respond to the public health emergency of 2020.


In 2020 we evolved our approach to addressing the social determinants of health by explicitly naming the role that structural racism plays in creating and maintaining racial inequities in health, and by investing in efforts to diversify the behavioral health workforce.

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Evolving our Approach

The Foundation was established with a mission to expand access to health coverage and care for the state’s most marginalized communities. Both our grantmaking and policy initiatives have examined the impact of the social determinants of health on access to care and promoted solutions to the deep health inequities in our Commonwealth. Leading into 2020, the Foundation’s board began revising our strategic plan with the goal of reflecting our commitment to disrupt structural racism in order to eliminate inequities in health care access, quality, and outcomes. This new focus area builds on years of existing work on disparities, the social factors that impact health outcomes such as housing and food, and our leadership program that prepares emerging health leaders to confront racism embedded in the health care system.


Hear more from members of our board and advisory committee on why it was important for the Foundation to evolve to meet the longstanding challenge of structural racism and racial inequities in health and how that approach to equity can help advance the health care community.


In 2020, amidst a steady increase in need for mental health and substance use resources, we provided necessary tools and funding for policymakers and providers to take action toward expanding timely access to behavioral health services.

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Putting Ideas into Action

For the past 3 years, 6 existing Emergency Service Providers (ESPs) across the state have been building and testing a vision for behavioral health urgent care that will expand access to services for those experiencing mental health and substance use disorders. These organizations have used $1.2M per year in grant support from the Foundation to expand hours, increase geographic reach, incorporate medication assisted treatment for individuals with substance use disorder, improve access to prescribers and peer specialists, engage criminal justice partners in emergency department diversion, and implement telehealth. The learnings from this grant program, and from publications on behavioral health models, has been instrumental in guiding new state policy.


Hear more from leaders, frontline staff, people with lived experience, and policymakers on how the Foundation helps them put ideas into action.


Established with an endowment in 2001, the Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization governed by a 14 member Board of Directors. We collaborate with public and private organizations to broaden health coverage and reduce barriers to care through grants, research, and policy initiatives.


$3,877,104 - Total amount awarded in 2020 (on map of Massachusetts)

Expanding Access to Behavioral Health Urgent Care


Strengthening the Voice for Access


Connecting Consumers to Care


Special Initiatives COVID-19


Special Initiatives


Network of Care


Catalyst Fund


Going Beyond Health Care


Policy & Research


Grants Awarded


Organizations Funded


The public health emergency meant that for the first time in its 19 year history, the Health Coverage Fellowship was rescheduled, and eventually held online. Despite these challenges, the 12 fellows were able to learn from national and international health experts battling the pandemic in real-time. While the 11th cohort of the Massachusetts Institute for Community Health Leadership program had to be postponed until 2021, State Senator Julian Cyr, a graduate of the 8th MICHL cohort, describes the enduring impact of this unique leadership program.

Policy & Research






2020 Board of Directors

Manny Lopes
President and Chief Executive Officer, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center


Andrew Dreyfus
President and Chief Executive Officer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts


JD Chesloff
Executive Director, Massachusetts Business Roundtable


Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH
Robert A. Knox Professor and Dean, Boston University School of Public Health


Shelly Greenfield, MD, MPH
Chief Academic Officer, and the Kristine M. Trustey Endowed Chair of Psychiatry, McLean Hospital, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School


Michael Hunter
Vice President, Business Development, Trinity Financial


Thea James, MD
Vice President of Mission, Associate Chief Medical Officer, and Director of the Violence Intervention Advocate Program (VIAP) at Boston Medical Center; Assistant Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine

Antonia McGuire, RN
Senior Consultant, John Snow, Inc.


Michael Miller
Strategic Policy Director, Community Catalyst


Bruce Nash, MD (retired from board July 2020)
Chief Physician Executive and Senior Vice President, Health and Medical Management, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts


Mary Kay Leonard
Independent Consultant


Henry M. Thomas III, JD
President and Chief Executive Officer, the Urban League of Springfield, Inc.


Patricia Washington
Vice Chair
Board of Directors, Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD)


Audrey Shelto (ex-officio)
President and Chief Executive Officer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation

Thank You

Learn more about our grants, research, and programs at www.bluecrossmafoundation.com.



Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation

101 Huntington Avenue, Suite 1300
Boston, MA 02199-7611


The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. ©2020 – BCBSMA Foundation. All rights reserved.