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Jacksonville, Fla. - March 2, 2022

Florida Blue, Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan, announced its investment of more than $2 million into organizations doing work in Jacksonville’s 32206 ZIP code as part of the company’s initiative to address generational poverty. 

Last year, Florida Blue launched its Growing Resilient Communities initiative, a philanthropic effort funded by the insurer and the Florida Blue Foundation focused on breaking the cycle of generational poverty in five select ZIP codes across the state. The initiative partners with residents and organizers in each community on specific needs, including access to quality education, financial security, safe and healthy living conditions, improved health status, and focused support from organizations and services.

“Growing Resilient Communities is an aspirational effort to contribute our company’s core competencies, strengths and assets into existing initiatives to help end the cycle of generational poverty in these communities,” said Florida Blue President and CEO Pat Geraghty. “It is our goal to both build upon the work already underway in the Eastside community and support comprehensive strategies to improve housing, education, workforce development and the overall health of this community.”

Geraghty along with Florida Blue’s North Florida Market President Darnell Smith and other company and community leaders were in the Eastside neighborhood in 32206 today to announce the Florida Blue Foundation’s latest round of investments in community-based solutions totaling $1.4 million that included:

  • LIFT JAX with a $1 million grant to support its efforts to eradicate generational poverty in Jacksonville’s Eastside through collaboration with the Historic Eastside Community Development Corporation to holistically revitalize the community. The investment will further the organization’s focus on mixed-income housing, cradle-to-career education, community wellness and long-term financial vitality.
  • Goodwill Industries of North Florida with a $400,000 grant to address food insecurity in the Eastside community by restoring and operating the Debs Store Neighborhood Market. After restoration, the historic building will include a neighborhood market to make fresh food regularly available to the community on the first floor and a community meeting place that offers career and workforce development training as well as financial assistance training on the second floor. 

“This generous contribution from the Florida Blue Foundation is going to go a long way for the Eastside community,” said David Garfunkel, president of LIFT JAX. “As one of our first and largest donors, we truly appreciate the dedication Florida Blue has toward improving local residents’ lives. This donation brings us one step closer to elevating the Historic Eastside out of poverty.”

“At Goodwill, we are passionate about working with the local community to ensure every person has an opportunity for employment and education. We are thankful for all the support from our great partners at the Florida Blue Foundation, as well as David Garfunkel with LIFT JAX, who has done amazing work to bring us all together,” said David Rey, CEO of Goodwill North Florida. “And we could not attempt this project if it were not for the Debs family, the support of the City of Jacksonville and the amazing collaboration amongst the organizations mentioned above.”

In 2019, Florida Blue identified five ZIP codes in four major markets across the state – Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, and Orlando – to invest efforts that impact the social drivers of generational poverty. In the Jacksonville market, focus has been placed on the 32206 ZIP code, where the median household income is $24,419 and more than a quarter of adults did not graduate from high school, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Since then, Florida Blue and the Florida Blue Foundation have identified and engaged with diverse partners to start laying the groundwork for today’s announcement by previously investing a total of more $700,000 into organizations and initiatives supporting communities in 32206 such as Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, the River Oak Center garden and food pantry, Groundwork Jacksonville’s LaVilla Link, Operation New Hope’s Ready4Work and several others.