GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation (GuideWell), the parent to a family of forward-thinking companies including Florida Blue, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan of Florida, today selected three South Florida organizations to receive seed money to implement their innovative ideas to address economic disparities.
The organizations - The Business & Leadership Institute for Early Learning, KidzCount and YES Institute - were selected from a group of nine regional innovators across South Florida to each receive $5,000 in funding. In addition, they advance to GuideWell’s Growing Resilient Communities challenge finals on October 27 where they will have the opportunity to compete for a $40,000 state grand prize. Funds will be used to accelerate the development of their place-based approaches that focus on addressing economic inequities that exist in their respective local communities.
Program overviews of the three South Florida organizations advancing to the state finals:
• The Business & Leadership Institute for Early Learning (Broward County) – The program targets businesses in small rural communities, offering a virtual presentation of this established training that has already been developed, launched and proven successful. The four-session series provides participants with classes by business experts in finance, banking, real estate, insurance, human resources and more. The series is driven by an interactive online curriculum by which participants can analyze their businesses with assistance from peer mentors and business consultants in a cost-effective delivery format. Visit their website for more information.
• KidzCount (Broward County) – Founded and run by black business professionals to lift up their communities and push racial equality, KidzCount helps kids in marginalized and disadvantaged communities learn how to create generational wealth and manage their finances responsibly in order to break the cycle of poverty. The program provides students with age-appropriate lessons, activities and discussion opportunities that help them understand and navigate real-world money management and business situations. From balancing a budget to starting a business, KidzCount teaches children critical financial literacy skills not offered in public school curriculum. Visit their website for more information.
• YES Institute (Miami-Dade County) – This organization addresses suicide by delivering powerful, effective, research-based trainings on gender, orientation, and communication that target the root causes of stigma and bias to reduce bullying and prevent self-harm. They serve youth and the adults who can make a critical difference in their lives — families, educators, medical and mental health professionals, clergy members and more. They meet them where they are in the community to address the mindset, communication, and cultural factors that lead to relationship breakdowns, disruptive behavior, and self-destructive actions. Respectful of all viewpoints, these trainings create civil discourse and promote inclusion. Visit website for more information.
“We want to congratulate all of the applicants for demonstrating their passion and willingness to innovate, collaborate and drive change for the people and communities in South Florida,” said Kirstie McCool, executive director of GuideWell Innovation. “This challenge is designed to empower local residents to help jumpstart their communities and create long-term economic prosperity, which in turn can lead to healthier and stronger communities.”
According to a September 2020 report by the Urban Institute called Creating Places of Opportunity for All there is a direct correlation between the economic prosperity of a person’s neighborhood and their health.
In July, GuideWell issued the statewide challenge to entrepreneurs, nonprofits, innovators and organizations to advance community-based entrepreneurship, financial literary, as well as access to educational, legal and health resources.
Aside from Thursday’s event in South Florida, three other regional virtual pitch events are taking place throughout the state. The three finalists from each region will be invited to present their approaches and compete for the grand prize of $40,000 at the Growing Resilient Communities challenge statewide showcase on Wednesday, October 27. Like the regional pitch competitions, this year’s statewide event also will be held virtually. All organizations that competed in each of the four regional competitions receive a unique opportunity to attend the GuideWell Growing Resilient Communities virtual town hall event on Thursday, Oct. 28, an invitation-only, collaborative gathering, bringing together experts and stakeholders from across the state and nation to focus on improving economic disparities in Florida communities.