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Highmark WV Charitable Fund for Health awards $150,000 grant to American Heart Association to combat vaping and tobacco usage

Feb. 14, 2023 | Parkersburg, W.Va.

Parkersburg, W.Va. (Feb. 14, 2023) — Announced by Highmark West Virginia officials earlier today, the Highmark West Virginia Charitable Fund for Health will partner with the American Heart Association on a statewide public awareness campaign targeting tobacco and vaping usage, particularly in youth. The grant totals $150,000.

"The American Heart Association is a long-time partner of Highmark West Virginia's, and we really appreciate their passion to educate the public about the dangers of vaping," said Jim Fawcett, president of Highmark West Virginia. "We're excited to launch this effort to educate both youth and families throughout our state on preventing the use of tobacco and vaping."

"We are proud to once again partner with Highmark West Virginia for this important and, potentially lifesaving, campaign," said Michelle Loehr, Executive Director (West Virginia/Blue Ridge Virginia) for the American Heart Association. "Tobacco companies spend millions of dollars in West Virginia each year trying to hook our teens into vaping, and it is our sincere hope that this campaign will help shed light on the very real dangers it poses for teens and adults alike."

The American Heart Association's mission is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With West Virginia leading the nation in adult smoking rates as well as the number of eighth grade students who have used a vape pen, this teen vaping campaign is very timely. The campaign will utilize radio spots on iHeart Radio featuring West Virginia teens speaking about the dangers of these devices as well as television spots on WCHS-TV/Fox 11 featuring Yvonne Cook, president of the Highmark Foundation, speaking to parents about the ways vape pens can be hiding in plain sight and the dangers they pose to children.

This donation is funded through the Highmark West Virginia Charitable Fund for Health, which provides critical funding to support West Virginia-based health and social service organizations. Since its launch in 2021, the Charitable Fund for Health has awarded more than $3 million in grant funding for West Virginia-based non-profit organizations that share Highmark Health's mission.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies, and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

About Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia serves approximately 240,000 members through the company’s health care benefits business and hundreds of thousands of additional members through the BlueCard® program. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of West Virginia holds the largest share of the commercial market, and more West Virginians carry a Blue Cross Blue Shield card than any other insurance carrier in the state. Highmark West Virginia employs approximately 600 people and serves as a key economic driver in the state with its total economic impact reaching $352 million.

About the Highmark Foundation

The Highmark Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) private, charitable organization dedicated to improving the health, wellbeing, and quality of life for individuals who reside in the communities served by Highmark, Inc. and its subsidiaries and affiliates. We fulfill our missing by awarding high-impact grants to charitable organizations that implement evidence-based programs aimed at improving community health. Central to the Foundation’s mission is identifying and continuously reevaluating our region’s prevailing health care needs. By doing so, the Foundation remains at the forefront of those needs, well-equipped to pinpoint the issues that more urgently need support.

In 2021, two new restricted funds were established at the Highmark Foundation — the Highmark West Virginia Charitable Fund for Health and the United Concordia Dental Charitable Fund. These funds support the ongoing work of the Highmark Foundation across its footprint and beyond. For more information, visit

About Highmark West Virginia Charitable Fund

The Highmark West Virginia Charitable Fund for Health is a controlled fund of the Highmark Foundation. The Charitable Fund for Health‘s mission is to improve the health, well-being and quality of life for individuals who reside in all 55 counties in West Virginia. The Highmark WV Charitable Fund for Health strives to support programs that impact multiple counties and work collaboratively to leverage additional funding to achieve replicable models. For more information, visit


Cathy McAlister
Executive Director
Highmark WV Charitable Fund for Health