Established more than 50 years ago, the Cigna Foundation carries out our corporate philanthropy goals of bringing Cigna’s mission to life for individuals and communities around the globe. The Cigna Foundation accomplishes these goals through strategically focused charitable grants to nonprofit organizations whose work enhances the health of individuals and families and the well-being of communities.
In 2019, the Cigna and Express Scripts Foundations deployed more than $14 million in grants to support nonprofits that share our commitment to enhancing health and well-being.1
Healthier Kids for Our Future
In 2019, after our combination with Express Scripts, the Cigna Foundation launched our newly combined company’s first philanthropic initiative, Healthier Kids for Our Future (HKFOF). HKFOF is a $25 million five-year global initiative committed to improving the health and well-being of children and aligned with three of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs):
- Goal 1: No Poverty
- Goal 2: Zero Hunger
- Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being
At its core, HKFOF is the bridge connecting local organizations that already make a measurable difference in children’s health outcomes with volunteers and resources. In our first year, we joined with schools and community groups to reduce food insecurity – ensuring that our nonprofit partners had the support they needed to address this serious challenge.
The Cigna Foundation is focused on this topic because poor nutrition and food insecurity in childhood can lead to health disparities and poorer health later in life.2 Additionally, for millions of children, chronic food insecurity and hunger will lead to poor educational outcomes – including reduced proficiency in math and reading as well as social and behavioral problems.3 Our nonprofit partners primarily work with Title 1 schools with large concentrations of low-income students who receive supplemental funds to assist in meeting students’ educational goals. Under HKFOF, each school works with a nonprofit partner to submit a grant request to the Cigna Foundation to provide tailored, onsite programming and services. We have supported programs such as weekend meal kits, onsite food pantries, community gardens, and community nutrition education events. We also offer a meal kit service to participating students through our partnership with the nonprofit Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE). FCE’s Full Cart program delivers a box of groceries, at no cost, directly to these students’ homes.
To increase the efficacy of HKFOF, we partnered with Washington University’s Brown School Evaluation Center (Brown School) to evaluate the program in its first year. We are using the Brown School’s findings to inform our work as we expand the focus of the initiative to include supporting mental well-being in schools.
For more detailed information on the Cigna Foundation’s HKFOF Grant program or for application information, please visit our web page.
Working to Make a World of Difference
The Cigna Foundation also continued to execute its long standing World of Difference grant program in 2019, which is focused on providing and expanding health equity4 and community health navigation services. These services are crucial for eliminating health disparities across the population and creating more sustainable health care systems.
World of Difference grants center around collaborations with nonprofits pursuing unique, targeted projects that help individuals overcome barriers to their health and well-being related to social determinants of health (SDoH).5
Requirements for the World of Difference grant program include:
- A pilot (or early stage) multi-year project that directly serves the needs of individuals in the health focus area under consideration;
- A focus on a specific health challenge or related group of challenges faced by those individuals;
- An innovative approach that stresses the importance of engaging individuals to address the health challenges related to project objectives;
- Opportunities for volunteer involvement by the Cigna team;
- Potential to expand to additional geographic areas (special consideration is given to projects that provide, or have the potential to provide, services globally); and
- A fiscally sound development plan with strong emphasis on metrics, analysis, and reporting.
Pursuing Health Equity and Community Health Navigation
In 2019, Cigna and the Cigna Foundation continued to focus on advancing health equity. Pursuing health equity means furthering the elimination of SDoH, as well as eliminating disparate health outcomes.6
Through our World of Difference grants, we demonstrate our understanding of the importance of convening a broad range of stakeholders – businesses, government entities, nonprofits, providers, delivery systems, and residents – and committing to an ongoing effort. One of the most effective ways to improve health equity is through the navigational assistance of a Community Health Worker, as an engaged and trusted member of the relevant group’s community. We have seen firsthand how positive health outcomes can be realized by supporting community health navigation.
For more detailed information on the Cigna Foundation World of Difference grant program or for application information, please visit our web page.
Express Scripts Foundation
During Cigna’s integration with Express Scripts over the past year, we have continued to operate the legacy Express Scripts Foundation and the Cigna Foundation separately, in sensitivity to each organization’s stakeholders and commitments.
The Express Scripts Foundation has acted as a catalyst for change since it was established in 2003. Its charitable giving strategy focuses on enabling access to health and medical services; supporting education initiatives for underserved youth; advancing pharmacy education; providing services to U.S. military troops and their families; strengthening communities by aiding children and families in need; and providing disaster relief to devastated communities. In 2019, the Express Scripts Foundation deployed $3.5 million to leading organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Little Bit Foundation, Institute for Safe Medicine, United Way, and Washington University, in support of these causes.
The Express Scripts Foundation also continued to fund the Dependent Scholarship Express Scripts Scholar Program. Designed in partnership with Scholarship America, the program awards scholarships for undergraduate or vocational-technical education to eligible dependents7 or grandchildren of employees. The Express Scripts Foundation worked diligently with its strategic partners throughout the year to wind down programming before its planned dissolution in 2020. In advance of the Foundation’s dissolution, the Cigna Foundation integrated initiatives formerly under the umbrella of the Express Scripts Foundation, including the Dependent Scholarship/Express Scripts Scholar Program, into its programming. The Cigna Foundation’s strategy will continue to evolve in 2020, taking on the characteristics of both organizations and reflecting our newly combined company.
In 2019, the Cigna Foundation continued to report on its activities to the Corporate Governance Committee of the Board of Directors. Additionally, in advance of the dissolution of the Express Scripts Foundation, two board members were transitioned onto the Cigna Foundation board and began attending meetings.
1 In 2019, the Cigna Foundation invested more than $10.5 million in communities through grants and the Express Scripts Foundation invested more than $3.5 million in communities through grants.
2 Gunderson C, Kreider B. Bounding the effects of food insecurity on children’s health outcomes. J Health Econ, 2009; 28(5):971–983.
3 Cook, JT. Impacts of food insecurity and hunger on health and development in children: Implications of measurement approach. In paper commissioned for the Workshop on Research Gaps and Opportunities on the Causes and Consequences of Child Hunger. 2013 April.
4 Healthy Equity is the attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities.
5 Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) are conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. They include factors that influence our daily lives, such as economic stability; educational attainment; infrastructure (including housing and transportation); food access; access to health care; and community and social environment (with related factors including loneliness, stress and discrimination). Research shows that these factors play a significant role in health behavior and health status, utilization of care and health outcomes – even more so than clinical care.
6 A health disparity is a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; behavioral health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.
7 Dependents include natural children, legally adopted children from the date the employee assumes legal responsibility, children for whom the employee assumes legal guardianship, and stepchildren.