Florida Blue Community Social Impact Competition

Tuesday, Oct 03, 2023
Florida Blue Community Social Impact Competition

Florida Blue Community Social Impact Competition

BSW students taking the “Communities and Organizations” course are in for an exciting ride! Florida Blue, the health insurance provider and generous community partner of the Sandler School of Social Work, has gifted $125,000 to help bring classroom service-learning projects to life by funding their real-world implementation in underserved South Florida communities.

Ideas that Make a Difference

“Communities and Organizations” is an academic-service learning course, which engages students in experiential learning that is then applied in real-world scenarios in service to their communities. In Fall 2023 and 2024, up to three sections of this course will run, each with 25 students enrolled, for a total of 75 students annually or 150 students participating over two years.

Student teams of up to five – approximately 150 students over two years – will develop and propose a community-based intervention from one of Florida Blue’s three key drivers of health: health equity, food security, or mental well-being. This will take place in partnership with a human services organization in Palm Beach, Broward, or Miami-Dade Counties. Martin, Indian River or St. Lucie Counties can also be included if students so choose.

Faculty and students will select two groups from each section as finalists. Finalists will present to a panel of expert reviewers before the end of the semester (end of November or beginning of December). This will include Florida Blue, faculty, and other school/college representatives. The expert reviewers will select 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.

Competing for Change

Each member of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winning teams will receive a $1,000 scholarship (15 scholarships in total). Additionally, each team will receive funding to implement their projects: $10,000 for the 1st place team; $6,250 for the 2nd place team, and $5,000 for the 3rd place team. The funds will be used by the teams to implement their community-based projects during the Spring semester 2024. The winning projects will start implementation in January 2024 with expected completion in April 2024.  The students will be supervised by the faculty member of the course and a selected Florida Blue rep. 

The top team will travel to Orlando on an expense-paid trip to present their final project results at the Florida Blue Sapphire Awards, or at another event of Florida Blue’s choosing. The conference will provide the students with the opportunity to discuss their work and its impact on our communities, extend their professional network in healthcare areas, and represent the success of the transformative partnership between Florida Blue and the Sandler School of Social Work.

Implementing Impact

The effectiveness, success and major outcomes of the proposed project will utilize a two-phase system of evaluation. Phase 1 will be the evaluation of individual student groups and Phase 2 will be the evaluation of the finalists.

Phase 1: Student participants will be evaluated by using a rubric specifically designed for the course in which the project proposal will be developed and presented. The rubric will evaluate student teams’ project:

  • Community needs assessment
  • Intervention concept
  • Rationale for the project
  • Summary of mission, goals & objectives
  • Comprehensiveness of proposed intervention’s evaluation plan
  • A budget that is both comprehensive and plausible within the budget limits identified
  • 15-minute proposal presentation (i.e. professionalism and ability to respond to questions)

Phase 2: The two groups from each section of that course with the highest scores on the rubrics will advance as finalists to be reviewed by the expert reviewer panel, which will select the three top groups, again using a rubric to evaluate the justification for the project, rationale, history, and plausibility with an appropriate budget.

The reviewers will evaluate each of the three teams’ implementation success using the metrics and criteria that each team included in its approved intervention plan.

2023 Competition Recap

The 2023 Florida Blue Community Social Impact Competition concluded in emphatic fashion with the top spot awarded to the “Career on Wheels” project proposal presented by Grace Jenkins and Jessica Lambert. “Career on Wheels” offered an inventive solution for connecting career resources with marginalized members of the community, which included a mobile grooming station to help candidates get polished and ready to shine, as well as ride-share gift cards for transportation to and from job interviews. Jenkins and Lambert will receive $10,000 to help implement their group project in the community, in addition to each receiving a $1,000 scholarship.

Second place was awarded to the team behind “HELLO”, including Sharon Snow, Kerlyne Pierre, and Angie Abreu. “HELLO” proposed ways to counteract America’s loneliness epidemic by advocating for unity and providing tools for easy, stress-free connection. Snow, Pierre, and Abreu will receive $6,250 to help implement their group project, in addition to each team member receiving a $1,000 scholarship.

Rounding out third place was “Food for Thought”, presented by Djevline Louis, Adam Siegal, Medgine Present, and Makayla Williams. “Food for Thought” aims to connect Florida Atlantic students who are facing food insecurities with nutritious options, as well as educational training to empower food independence. The “Food for Thought” team will receive $5,000 to help implement their group project in the community, plus individual scholarships of $1,000 each.

Hats off to “The Village of Moms in Recovery” team, which included Michael Moulton, Bryan Harlan, Sara Livelsberger, and Summer Wadleigh, who presented a peer-support community living model for moms in recovery; and the “South Florida Farmworkers Heat Crisis Initiative” team, which included Andrea Wise, Rhonda Taasa, Kareisha Mash, Carina Bosselman, and Amreen Khan, who pushed for South Florida migrant workers to have better working conditions, including ready access to hydration stations.  

Special thanks to the fantastic panel of judges from Florida Blue, including Cindy Jackson Mason, market leader for Broward County; Fiorella Smyth, senior manager for corporate social responsibility integration in South Florida; and Juan Awad, market leader for Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.

Grateful applause to our Social Work faculty who shepherded their students throughout their coursework and competition: Atensia Earp Bowen, LCSW, instructor; Seth Densen, MSW, adjunct instructor; and Precious Skinner-Osei, PhD, MSW, assistant professor and BSW program coordinator. 

We celebrate the level of creativity, care, and compassion presented throughout the Florida Blue Social Impact Competition, which clearly demonstrates the high caliber of our Sandler School of Social Work students and faculty. We wish the winning teams abundant success as they prepare to implement their funded proposals and look forward to reporting on their progress here.  Stay tuned...


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Looking Ahead

Check back here for periodic updates on the progression and to see how students at the Sandler School of Social Work are gaining firsthand community-engaged experience while also changing lives.

Thank you, Florida Blue!