Florida Blue invests in Eastside neighborhood

More than $2 million will support LIFT JAX, Goodwill Industries of Northeast Florida and other organizations.

  • By Max Marbut
  • | 6:40 p.m. March 2, 2022
  • | 5 Free Articles Remaining!
Florida Blue, Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield is investing more than $2 million in East Jacksonville.
Florida Blue, Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield is investing more than $2 million in East Jacksonville.
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Florida Blue announced March 3 it invested 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.

“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 in a news release.

“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.”

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.

The initiative is investing $1.4 million in Jacksonville:

 A $1 million grant to LIFT JAX 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.

A $400,000 grant to Goodwill Industries of North Florida 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, in the release.

“At Goodwill, we are passionate about working with the local community to ensure every person has an opportunity for employment and education,” said David Rey, CEO of Goodwill North Florida.

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 partners and previously invested more than $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 others.



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