Tell us about Florida Blue Foundation’s most recent $1.4M investment into Eastside Jacksonville.
Last year, we launched our Growing Resilient Communities initiative, a philanthropic effort funded by Florida Blue and our Florida Blue Foundation, focused on breaking the cycle of generational poverty in five select ZIP codes across the state. Growing Resilient Communities is a tangible demonstration of our broader commitment to contribute to our company’s core competencies, strengths, and assets in further support of existing initiatives in these communities.
In Jacksonville, we are focused on the Eastside community in the 32206 ZIP code. We also have initiatives in Uptown Tampa and the University Area of Tampa (33612/33613); the communities of West Lakes in Orlando (32805); and Lauderdale Lakes, Lauderhill, Oakland Park, and Wilton Manors in Broward County (33311). Each of these areas is particularly hard-hit by the challenges we are seeking to impact. In addition, we are looking at the opportunity to expand our impact in other communities over time.
What root causes of poverty will this effort target?
It is our goal to both build upon the work already underway in these communities and support comprehensive strategies to improve housing, education, workforce development, and overall health.
Our Growing Resilient Communities initiative partners with residents and organizers in each community to identify and address their specific needs, such as access to quality, cradle-to-college education, community wellness, intergenerational affordable housing, entrepreneurship and job development, food security, and other key elements that may be needed to develop a resilient community.
What made Florida Blue Foundation join the Florida Prosperity Project Advisory Board and become a Zip Code Leader?
Generational poverty causes people throughout Florida to struggle with daily life and their health. Investing in people and relevant programs will have long-lasting impacts that will benefit future generations. However, each community’s challenges and solutions are unique. To be truly effective, you must understand and assess the causes and conditions of generational poverty in each community and glean insights from existing strategies before you collaborate and co-develop solutions to support transformation at the hyper-local level.
The Florida Chamber Foundation is doing just that – with the Florida 2030 Blueprint, TheFloridaScorecard.org, the expanded Gap Map, and much more – they are able to not only look at our state as a whole but dig down deep into our 983 ZIP codes to pinpoint strategies that will move the needle with families who want the opportunity to live healthy, prosperous lives. The partnerships, learning, and collaborations with the other Advisory Board members and the Chamber resources help Florida Blue achieve our community goals.
What would you say is the business case for Florida businesses to get involved with tackling generational poverty in their neighborhoods across Florida?
Poverty not only takes a toll on the individuals who are living it, but the entire community. And with respect to health, it is associated with higher rates of treatable, and often preventable, health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, infant mortality and asthma. This leads to billions of dollars in lost productivity and health care costs each year.
Children who grow up in poverty are at greater risk of cognitive development issues, reliance on public benefits and higher rates of incarceration. Only 6% of children born to parents in the bottom fifth of income earners grow up to become “rich,” or in the top fifth of earners. Roughly half of those children remain in the bottom fifth of earners their entire life.
Children born in poverty are far more likely to underperform in school and have limited access to higher education, resulting in fewer highly skilled job candidates.
The economic and social consequences of generational poverty on our state will only grow if we do not come together to address it. As a business community, we can have a major impact on these challenges and in turn have a positive impact on the overall health and well-being of Florida.
Click here to learn about the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Prosperity Project that is uniting Florida businesses for good around the Florida 2030 Blueprint goal of cutting Florida childhood poverty in half by 2030 and ensuring 100% have a pathway out.