May 12, 2009
UNC Asheville and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation announced today a $3 million grant from the BCBSNC Foundation to support the University’s North Carolina Center for Health & Wellness. The three-year grant is the most substantial ever for the foundation's Healthy Active Communities focus area and one of the largest in the University's history.
"It is incredibly gratifying for our N.C. Center for Health & Wellness to be recognized by a foundation known widely for its commitment to improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians," said UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder. "Our Center’s groundbreaking work, already under way, will now be able to progress even further in the three areas critical to North Carolina – childhood obesity, worksite wellness and healthy aging. This grant will help us realize the Center's mission of serving as a catalyst for disease prevention through healthy living among North Carolinians of all ages."
Kathy Higgins, president of the BCBSNC Foundation, said the Center will serve as a resource for the entire state.
"We are delighted to be able to invest in this innovative program that holds such promise for our state," she said. "The objective with our Healthy Active Communities focus area is to invest in programs that increase physical activity and encourage healthy eating for North Carolinians. We understand the significance of preventive health and feel the work of the N.C. Center for Health & Wellness is a perfect match."
The N.C. Center for Health & Wellness will be the hub for educating health and wellness professionals, conducting interdisciplinary research and connecting the findings to community agencies, building community and statewide partnerships, and incubating wellness-related community programs. The funds from the new grant will be used to expand the Center's programs and to complete the upfit and equipping of the Center, which is currently under construction and expected to be completed in March 2011.
Construction of the center, projected to cost $42 million, is funded in large part by a $35 million appropriation from the North Carolina General Assembly. UNC Asheville has raised the remainder in private funds.
Architects for the project are Bowers Ellis & Watson of Asheville and HOK. The project general contractor is Shelco Inc., headquartered in Charlotte.
About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation is a separate, independent, charitable foundation with the mission of improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians. Its focus is improving the health of vulnerable populations, supporting physical activity and nutrition programs and helping North Carolina nonprofits improve their organizational capacity. Since its inception, BCBSNC Foundation has invested into the community more than $46 million through 294 grants to organizations throughout the state. In addition to grantmaking, the BCBSNC Foundation also manages several Signature Programs, among them, Be Active Kids® and Healthy Community Institute for Nonprofit Excellence. More information is available at www.bcbsncfoundation.org.