Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation revised the eligibility for its three-year, $300,000 grant to advance “healthy food equity” after The Daily Signal reported on the program’s stringent race-based limitations.
Under the original rules, some organizations that employ a majority-nonwhite staff and have a majority-nonwhite board of directors were automatically disqualified from the grant because the CEOs in question are considered white.
“We have received questions about eligibility from organizations that have a majority people of color staff, and staff leadership, and white CEO,” a foundation representative said in a “Healthy Food Equity” webinar Feb. 2. “So given the spirit of this opportunity Sheila and I shared earlier, these organizations are not eligible for this particular opportunity.”
The video of the webinar has since been removed from YouTube.
This week, the foundation released an update, noting that the opportunity is “expanding.”
“Since we released this funding opportunity in early January, we have received inquiries from potential applicants and others working in the community whose work aligns with the goals of this opportunity, yet whose organizations don’t quite match all aspects of the stated eligibility criteria,” the update reads. “After careful consideration, we have decided to expand both the number of organizations being supported by this grant funding, as well as the eligibility criteria for those seeking an award.”
The foundation expanded the grant opportunity from 10 organizations to 14, expanded the grant to focus on rural communities, and waived the requirement for a nonwhite CEO.
“The eligibility requirement that the organization’s CEO be a member of the community served is being waived,” the update adds. The website also announces that the timeline for the grant has been extended and a new deadline will appear on the website later this year.
A spokesperson for the foundation told The Daily Signal that it will not comment further beyond the statement on the website.
Do No Harm, an organization of doctors, nurses, and health care professionals that speaks out against medical abuses, condemned the original grant requirements and responded to the update by saying that the foundation had been “caught red-handed.”
“If ever there was a bad idea, the notion that we should start to separate our country along racial lines is amongst the worst,” Do No Harm Board Chair Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a kidney specialist, told The Daily Signal last week. “The plan by the North Carolina Blue Cross Blue Shield company takes divisiveness to a new level. Even having a leader of an organization who is white is enough to prevent the entity, which apparently serves minority communities, from participating in a grant program.”
“Do Americans really want this sort of apartheid?” he asked.
After the update, Do No Harm Program Manager Laura Morgan announced that her organization, along with North Carolina policymakers, will monitor the foundation’s upcoming changes to the grant.
“BCBS of North Carolina Foundation got caught red-handed when they tried to inject ugly racial politics into their grant-making process,” Morgan told The Daily Signal. “Discrimination should have no place in our society, yet they were prepared to reject grant applications from nonprofits led by white CEOs just because of their skin color.”
“Do No Harm, along with BCBS customers and North Carolina state policymakers, will be watching very closely how the foundation updates the grant’s eligibility criteria,” she added.
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