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Press Release

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Media Contact
Theresa Makrush

Nursing Scholarships Reach $1 Million Awarded Over Four Years
~ Foundation for Florida’s Community Colleges Will Distribute Fall 2009 Funds to 28 Colleges ~

Tallahassee - The Foundation for Florida’s Community Colleges (FFCC) is distributing $273,882 this month for nursing and allied health scholarships, bringing the total to $1 million awarded since 2006. More than 1,359 students have benefited from the scholarships, representing a diverse population, both in gender and ethnicity, from every region of Florida.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Endowed Scholarship for Nursing and Allied Health is aimed at increasing the number and diversity of nurses and allied health employees. The scholarships are awarded to Florida’s 28 colleges serving the 67 counties in Florida and are matched in the local community, making the total award to date $2 million. Scholarship recipients are selected by the community college where they are enrolled, and awards are administered and allocated at the discretion of each school. “Today our state is reaping the rewards of a long-term strategy for sustainable support of nursing and allied health education in Florida,” said FFCC Chairman, Dr. John Belohlavek. “Thanks to the leadership and vision of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and our elected officials, we are providing scholarships to students in financial need who are enrolled in nursing and allied health programs across the state of Florida.”

Scholarship funds are generated by an endowment established by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF) in 2004. The original $2.5 million gift from BCBSF to FFCC was matched by the Florida Legislature through the Dr. Philip Benjamin Matching Grant Program funds in 2005 creating a $5 million endowment. The fund was established as part of BCBSF’s strategic philanthropy program called Generation RN to support public/private partnerships that address the state’s nursing shortage. The most recent forecasts show a 52,200 shortage of nurses by the year 2020. Now in its fifth year, Generation RN has partnered with nursing programs throughout Florida to increase educational capacity, retain nurses in the workforce and provide endowments for sustainable funding for professorships and scholarships.

“Floridians depend on health care providers that can deliver high-quality, culturally competent care,” said Cyrus M. Jollivette, BCBSF’s Senior Vice President of Public Affairs. “Adding more nurses that reflect the diverse population of Florida strengthens the health care system while meeting a critical workforce need.”

Celebrating 65 years as Florida’s leader in the health industry, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida is mission-driven to improve affordable access to health care. BCBSF is a not-for-profit, policyholder-owned, tax-paying mutual company. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., BCBSF is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information concerning BCBSF, please visit www.bcbsfl.com or to listen to Floridians speak out on health care issues visit www.thepowerofthehumanvoice.com.