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Home About Us Corporate Responsibility Cigna FoundationGrants to Reduce Health Disparities Foundation

Health and Well-Being Grants

Applications are now closed and will reopen in 2023.

The Cigna Foundation is committed to eliminating health disparities and improving health and well-being for all. We wish to partner with nonprofits who are addressing the root causes of health inequity, including supporting under-resourced and systemically disadvantaged communities with poor social determinants of health (SDOH).1

Given recent incidents here in the U.S. and around the world, the persistence of COVID-19 and the economic climate, this grant cycle will focus on funding programs that address improving and ensuring good mental health.

Application Background

According to research published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry, individuals with mental disorders have a reduced life expectancy of approximately 10 to 20 years. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that individuals with depression have a 1.8 times higher risk of premature mortality.2,3 Depression also increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for mental illness.4 Unfortunately, these challenges are compounded by an overall shortage of mental health professionals.

Here are some important statistics about mental health in the U.S.

  • Depression and anxiety are two of the leading causes of disability worldwide.4

  • Over half of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment, totaling over 27 million adults who are going untreated.5

  • More than 150 million people in the U.S. live in a designated mental health professional shortage area.6

Mental health issues are even more pronounced in ethnic minority communities. Ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation minorities often suffer from poor mental health outcomes. Such outcomes include the examples below:

  • African Americans living below the poverty level, as compared to those over twice the poverty level, are twice as likely to report serious psychological distress.7

  • Asian Americans are 60 percent less likely to use mental health services as compared to non-Hispanic whites.8

  • Among young adults ages 18 to 24, Native Americans have higher rates of suicide than any other ethnicity and higher rates than the general population.9

  • More than 1 in 5 women in the United States experienced a mental health condition in the past year, such as depression or anxiety.10

  • LGBTQ individuals are more than twice as likely as heterosexual men and women to have a mental health disorder in their lifetime.11

These poor mental outcomes are due to multiple factors including inaccessibility of high quality mental health care services, cultural stigma surrounding mental health care, discrimination, and overall lack of awareness about mental health.12


Despite steady improvement in overall health outcomes over the past decade, many under-resourced communities continue to experience substantial health disparities.

  • Increased access to health care.

  • Increased access to primary care.

  • Increased health literacy, the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic mental and behavioral health information and services to make appropriate health decisions and follow directions for treatment.

The Cigna Foundation recognizes that this is a broad topic, therefore grants should address at least one if not more than one of the following programmatic areas, specifically in ethnic minority and underserved populations:

  • Suitable care that provides access to mental health services and addresses depression, stress, anxiety, and promotes resiliency and mental well-being.

  • Programs addressing the shortage of mental health care professionals.

  • Cultural competency and awareness training for healthcare providers that addresses the stigma associated with seeking mental health care.


To be considered, applicants must:

  • Align your funding request with the Community Health Implementation Plan (CHIP) for your community, which accompanies the local Community Needs Assessment (CNA) or Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). To find your community’s plan, visit your local hospital system’s or health department’s website or conduct an internet search.

  • Request between $50,000 and $100,000 per year. Multi-year requests are accepted but terms will be limited to three years; grants will be reviewed annually to ensure goals are being met as outlined.

  • Be a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. See the Grant FAQs for more information.

Proposal Evaluation

Proposals received by the deadline of September 16, 2022 by 5 pm ET will be evaluated on all of the following criteria:

  • Relevance to helping achieve shared goal(s) and objective(s) for the selected health inequity or inequities

  • Ability to track racial and ethnic groups served, as well as gender, age group, and geography

  • Regular evaluation and application of learnings for continuous improvement

  • Explanation of the estimated budget

Successful submissions will:

  • Clearly articulate the field of work that will be undertaken

  • Demonstrate experience in working with and understanding health and well-being as relevant to vulnerable, disparate, and/or marginalized communities

  • Describe the project design and evaluation of the proposed work by recognizing and respecting the unique needs and challenges faced by individuals who identify as members of vulnerable, disparate, and/or marginalized communities

  • Articulate the connection between disparities and the social determinants of health (SDOH)

Additional preference and weight will be given to applications that address:

  • Your community health and well-being needs using statistics and trends found locally and nationally

  • The specific SDOH that relate to the focus area(s) selected

  • Collaboration with other groups and entities evidenced by signed documentation (for example, a memorandum of understanding or letter of support) between parties

  • Organization’s culture of learning

  • Creating common language when advancing diversity, equity, equality, and inclusion


  • August: Request for proposal opens

  • September-October: Grants are reviewed

  • November-December: Grants are awarded, project is started, and dates and reporting timelines are determined


For additional questions, please contact us at

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,, accessed January 23, 2023.

2 JAMA Network, ‘Association of History of Psychopathology With Accelerated Aging at Midlife,’, accessed Aug 2022

3 The Recovery Village, ‘Poor Mental Health's Devastating Impacts on Life Expectancy — And How Treatment Can Help,’, accessed Aug. 2022

4 National Institute of Mental Health, ‘Chronic Illness and Mental Health: Recognizing and Treating Depression,’, accessed Aug. 2022

5 The State of Mental Health in 2022, First Stop Health, May 2, 2022

6 Health Resources and Services Administration, Shortage Areas,, accessed Aug. 2022

7 Mental and Behavioral Health – Black/African American,, accessed Aug. 2022

8 Mental and Behavioral Health – Asian American,, accessed Aug. 2022

9 Huffpost, ‘Native American Youth Suicide Rates Are At Crisis Levels,', accessed Aug. 2022

10 Office on Women’s Health, Mental health condition,, accessed Aug. 2022

11 American Psychiatric Association,, 2017

12 American Psychiatric Association, ‘Mental Health Disparities: Diverse Populations,’, accessed Aug. 2022

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