ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- A New York State health organization is giving back to the community, donating significant funding to local organizations that promote health in the Southern Tier.  

Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield announced Thursday morning the $260,000 in community health grant funding being provided across New York. Locally, nine organizations in the Southern Tier region received funding for $40,000 in total. BCBS feels the grant funding will help eliminate barriers to health for people struggling with economic stability or other social issues.  

“We feel it's our mission as a non-profit health plan to give back,” Jessica Renner, Regional President of the Southern Tier Region at Excellus BCBS, said. “We live here, we work here, we're part of these communities, so we wanted to make sure we hit every community across our market.”  

The funding aims to support the efforts of community health organizations to launch, expand or sustain programs. Renner feels the funding will open doors for many by providing budget flexibility to help develop services.  

“The grants we provide allow the organizations to think of new innovative ways to grow and develop their programs,” Renner said. “So, they may be choosing a new zip code to do food delivery within that they weren't able to do before because of funding.”  

Cathy Weil applied for a community health award about a month ago. As director of the Twin Tiers Baby Bank, she's seen struggling mothers air drying and reusing diapers. She says the award money has already started to take pressure off her in helping those in need.  

“$5,000 is a lot of money. It's a big part of our budget,” Weil said. “We are delighted to not feel stressed about it and continue to fundraise.”  

Organizations can apply next for the Excellus Health Equity Awards this fall. People can learn more information on how to apply online.