Grant History


Mississippi continues to make progress toward a healthier future, and the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is facilitating this progress by providing the resources, funding and leadership needed to continue in our commitment to a healthier Mississippi.



The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is proud to have provided grant funding to these organizations in 2013:



Building Healthy Communities


City of Ridgeland - 2013 Healthiest Hometown


"The City of Ridgeland encourages healthy lifestyles by providing trails, policies and programs that benefit the health of our residents. We all work together to help make Ridgeland the Healthiest Hometown in Mississippi. We are honored to have earned this award and will continue our efforts with enthusiasm."
Gene F. McGee, Mayor, City of Ridgeland

In 2013, the City of Ridgeland made significant strides in creating a culture of wellness for its residents, businesses and visitors, earning the title of "Mississippi's Healthiest Hometown." Ridgeland's efforts were spearheaded by partnerships among schools, churches, businesses, civic organizations and local government officials. Through the efforts of Ridgeland's Healthy Hometown Committee, every facet of the city is uniting to create a healthier environment to live and work.



City of Starkville - 2013 Healthy Hometown


"The City of Starkville is honored to be recognized as a Healthy Hometown. Our city leaders and the Healthy Starkville Committee members have worked diligently to ensure our citizens have many opportunities to make wellness part of their lives."
Parker Wiseman, Mayor, City of Starkville

Led by the Healthy Starkville Committee and home to Mississippi State University, Starkville's health and wellness focus extends beyond the city limits. With students across the state and well beyond, its efforts have a positive impact on the health and well-being of many individuals. As a smoke-free municipality, Starkville continues to be a role model for other communities looking to create healthy environments for their citizens.



City of Brookhaven - 2013 Healthy Hometown


"We are extremely honored to receive this award and appreciate the effort of everyone who contributed to our success. We look forward to providing our citizens with even more opportunities to focus on their health and well-being."
Joe C. Cox, Mayor, City of Brookhaven

Creating a healthy living and working environment for its residents is paramount to the City of Brookhaven. Its Healthy Hometown Committee members share the common goal of providing citizens with plenty of opportunities to make healthy living a priority. Brookhaven is host to many fitness events throughout the year, including the Mississippi Gran Prix Bicycle race and various charitable fitness events focusing on engaging children in recreational activities.



City of Laurel


The City of Laurel Police Department is leading health and wellness through their "Healthy Heroes' Initiative." The initiative began with a health fair held at the Laurel Police Department. A fitness center, located inside the police department and open 24 hours a day, provides 75 full-time employees with a place to exercise. Employees are encouraged to exercise one hour weekly on police department time. Each month, Healthy Hero Team members visit elementary schools to exercise with the students and to teach lessons about the importance of healthy eating. Also monthly, students and members of the community participate in community walks led by members of the Laurel Police Department.



City of Moss Point


The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation supported the City of Moss Point’s campaign to promote fitness and health activities through a project entitled “Walk, Run or Bike.” The project includes goals to create an awareness of the importance of daily exercise by building more walking and biking trails, parks and recreational spaces to help citizens lead healthier lifestyles.



Mississippi Children's Home Society


Mississippi Children's Home Society, d.b.a. Mississippi Children's Home Services, offers children and adolescents served on the Bagley Campus the benefit of a walking trail funded by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. Each student's body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure are monitored, and fitness is promoted as a lifelong habit among the students and their families.



Moore Community House


The "Early Head Start Community Garden" project of Moore Community House includes a garden, where fresh produce is grown and utilized in meal preparation. Over 100 children participate in nutrition and science educational activities related to the garden, and families learn lessons about healthy nutrition.



Quitman County Development Organization, Inc.


Quitman County Development Organization, Inc. in Marks, Mississippi implemented a project called "Moving into Wellness Walking Trail." The project includes building a one-quarter mile walking trail and developing partnerships with local growers to continue a farmers' market. Body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose are tracked, with improvement in participants' health as a result of exercise.



Building Healthy Universities and Colleges


Alcorn State University


Health and wellness is primary at Alcorn State University as evidenced by their commitment to host health fairs, community fun days, 5K events, fitness competitions and other recreational activities throughout the year for students, faculty, administration and members of the Jefferson and Claiborne county communities. The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation partnered with Alcorn State University in 2011 on the “HPER for Fitness” initiative to enhance campus physical activity, nutritional counseling, and health education. To expand this program further, the university has curricula in place to ensure all incoming students are educated about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.



Blue Mountain College


With the purchase of new exercise equipment, Blue Mountain College initiated a wellness program that includes not only their students, faculty, and staff, but also the residents of the Town of Blue Mountain. The town’s walking trail and wellness facility is at the center of campus fitness programs, and participants’ blood pressure, cholesterol level, body mass index (BMI) and frequency of workouts are tracked to show progress toward health goals.



Delta State University


The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation began working with Delta State University in 2009. With support from the Foundation, DSU's Healthy Campus/Community Initiative is very successful, from the implementation of a campus-wide tobacco-free policy to the engagement of the community and local schools in wellness activities throughout the year. Beginning with a required class for incoming freshmen that includes modules in healthy eating and exercise, many physical fitness and nutrition education opportunities are provided on campus, including a one-half mile walking trail and a variety of fitness classes, with individual counseling available. On campus, individuals and groups are promoted as Health Champions. DSU staff members participate in health and wellness activities such as the "Watermelon Wiggle" and Staff Olympics. In the surrounding Cleveland area, the "Court Street to Cleveland" and "Walk It Out Cleveland" events encourage residents to participate in walking and running for exercise. In the Cleveland area schools, a C.O.R.E. (Centering on Recreation Education and Nutrition) after-school program and the "Fit-Tastic Fridays" program have engaged school children in exercise and nutrition education. Each of these two programs received a Governor's Award from the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education. O.K.R.A. (Outdoor Kids Recreation Activities) summer day camps afford students aged 6 - 11 opportunities to participate in a variety of physical fitness activities during the summer.



Mississippi State University


Students at Mississippi State University now have the opportunity to work with personal trainers and receive customized exercise programs with one-on-one fitness training. The university also offers boot camp style classes to teach traditional and non-traditional fitness exercises to encourage participation by students of all fitness levels. The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation funded the Chadwick Lake Walking Trail on the MSU campus in 2013 as part of the “MSU on the Move” initiative, where the university hosts several 5K runs and fun walks. Summer youth camps hosted by MSU for the Starkville community focus on general fitness exercises and nutrition education reaching over 100 elementary students.



Mississippi University for Women


Through the "Passport to Wellness" project, Mississippi University for Women is connecting the university's health and wellness efforts to the surrounding Columbus community and elementary schools. MUW students, faculty, and staff have access to physical fitness opportunities, and web-based applications include health risk assessments, recipes, food journals, customizable workouts, and health tips. The university is reaching into the community by providing health education training for elementary school students. Health screenings provide MUW students, faculty, staff, and participating elementary school students and faculty with valuable health information. Quarterly community-wide events offer lessons about the importance of healthy eating and exercise.



Southwest Mississippi Community College


Pairing classroom instruction with practical experience, Southwest Mississippi Community College’s “Learn It… Live It” initiative is designed to enhance positive health and wellness learning outcomes. The college adopted a campus-wide tobacco-free policy and increased exercise space by replacing gym surfacing, installing an indoor track, and purchasing additional exercise equipment. The college also increased the number of group exercise classes and implemented additional summer youth fitness camps for the Pike, Lincoln, and Walthall county communities.



The University of Southern Mississippi


A written tobacco-free policy replaces the smoking zone policy, as top-level leaders at The University of Southern Mississippi implement the “Health is Golden” campaign. This initiative saturates the campus with health messages and identifies “Health Champions,” who make their health a priority and possess leadership skills to help build a healthy university. With the expansion of healthy meal options in the dining areas and guidelines for healthy vending products, students have a variety of nutritional meal options. USM is also taking a lead role in developing relationships with local school districts to develop health and wellness programs, with fitness events for elementary and middle school students in the Hattiesburg area.



Tougaloo College


The "Tougaloo College Wellness Initiative" includes a campus-wide health and wellness program and a community-based physical fitness program targeting youth and senior citizens. A campus walking trail, along with field days, intramural games, yoga, and boot camp provide individuals on campus with opportunities to become fit. In the surrounding community, fifth and sixth grade students at Walton Elementary School are exercising and learning lessons about healthy eating. Tougaloo College also provides physical fitness opportunities to senior citizens and sponsors a variety of health and wellness events open to individuals on campus and in the surrounding community. These events include community gardening lessons, health fairs, walking and running events, and healthy cooking demonstrations.



University of Mississippi


A comprehensive wellness program for the University of Mississippi is designed to implement the advancement of health, nutrition, exercise and individual wellness among students, faculty and administration. The university's health and wellness initiative, known as “Rebel Well,” is incorporated into new student and employee orientations, with state-of-the-art food preparation labs for healthy nutrition hands-on seminars. The expansion of campus-centered walking trails allows “Rebel Pedal” bikes to be piloted in lieu of driving cars or golf carts to move around campus for classes, meetings, events and errands. In addition to the campus fitness center, alternative exercise equipment, including stretching machines, resistance band centers and stair steppers, are distributed throughout campus for use during breaks and between classes.



Building Healthy Schools


All Star Physical Education Teachers


Two physical education teachers from across Mississippi were recognized by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation for their outstanding efforts to improve the health of their students. These teachers demonstrated marked improvement in the health and fitness levels of their students through the use of Project Fit America fitness equipment and health education programs previously funded by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. Each teacher received an "All Star" award, and their schools received $1,000 grants to be used for enhancement of physical education programs:

  • Terry Leigh Clayton, Lawhon Elementary School, Tupelo
  • Jay Rayborn, Columbia Elementary School, Columbia


Magnolia Speech School


During the fall of 2013, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation continued to champion health and wellness programs for the students at Magnolia Speech School. The “Feeding the Picky Eater” initiative focuses on appropriate therapy for children on the autism spectrum who also have sensory dysfunction in the area of eating. As part of this initiative, a licensed dietitian developed nutritious menus and conducted five parent healthy cooking classes, as well as trained the school chef to prepare lunches according to the healthy menus developed.



Mississippi State University Social Science Research Center


A total of 188 elementary and middle schools across Mississippi have received funding from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation to implement the Project Fit America program. The program includes indoor and outdoor exercise equipment, physical education curricula, and onsite training for PE teachers. Schools receiving the Project Fit America program record BMI and fitness data, along with data related to absenteeism and disciplinary occurrences, at the start and end of the school year for two years. Through support from the Foundation, the Social Science Research Center is analyzing the data to understand the positive impact that the Project Fit America program is having on Mississippi's school children.



Physical Education Conference


The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation hosted its 5th Annual Physical Education Conference in November, bringing together 20 P.E. teachers from around the state. The teachers participated in an educational session and shared best practices for engaging students and making P.E. classes both exciting and effective. Participants also received indoor fitness equipment and curricula to enhance their schools P.E. programs.


  • Ann E. Smith Elementary School
  • Annunciation Catholic School
  • Clinton Junior High School
  • Deer Creek School
  • Durant Public Schools
  • East Oktibbeha Elementary School
  • Inverness Elementary School
  • Mamie Martin Elementary School
  • Mantachie Elementary School
  • Marshall Elementary School
  • Martin Bluff Elementary School
  • Mason Elementary School
  • Montgomery Elementary School
  • Nanih Waiya Attendance Center
  • Nora Davis Magnet School
  • Noxapater Attendance Center
  • South Park Elementary School
  • Tremont Attendance Center
  • West Marion Elementary School
  • William J. Berry Elementary School