UTICA, N.Y.(WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) has announced that it has given the Midtown Utica Community Center (MUCC) a Community Health Award of $3,000 in support of its Children’s Literacy and Academic Success Support (CLASS) program.

“The CLASS program works to bridge the gap of language and cultural barriers that students belonging to refugee and immigrant families face. The structured support system of CLASS ensures that students have ample opportunity to achieve academic success. Our program invests in the future of our students as well as the future of the local community using a hyper-local public health approach to understand the cultural barriers and address them in ways that are preferred by our multicultural community members.” – Kay Klo, Midtown Utica Community Center Executive Director

The Children’s Literacy and Academic Success Support (CLASS) program provides local youth refugees with continuing academic support to overcome cultural and language barriers. A large group of volunteers, many of whom are also refugees attending nearby high schools and colleges, provide tutoring and academic support. The Community Health Award given by BCBS will fund new learning materials including textbooks, whiteboards, art supplies, writing supplies, computer software, and other literature.

“The company’s Community Health Awards demonstrate a corporate commitment to support local organizations that share our mission as a nonprofit health plan,” said Eve Van de Wal, Utica regional president of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “We recognize that addressing social determinants of health, such as education, is vital to the health and wellbeing of our communities and we are pleased to support MUCC with this essential health funding to help remove barriers to education for those in our community.”