“While we know everyone is eager to hear the full extent of our role, we won’t have complete information until the grant contract is finalized with the [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services],” said Health Initiative Executive Director Linda Ellis, in a prepared statement.

The $67 million was awarded to states across the country as part of the HHS’ Navigator Grant Recipients.

Ellis explained in a media release that two grant proposals were selected for Georgia, including a Structured Employment Development Corporation (Seedco), which included The Health Initiative in partnership with Georgia Equality as its “arm for LGBTQ outreach.”

Ellis said Seedco’s mission is to “advance economic opportunity for people, businesses and communities in need.” Seedco brought together more than a dozen community based organizations to ensure a broad spectrum of populations are assisted, Ellis added.

“We are excited to start this work and honored to work alongside a group of diverse community organizations,” Ellis said. “Throughout this process, Seedco has been dedicated to inclusivity. We feel very good about this relationship and their energy around LGBTQ outreach.”

Having Georgia Equality working alongside The Health Initiative during enrollment means reaching as many LGBTQ people across the state as possible.

“We are grateful that we will have our longtime partner, Georgia Equality, at our side for this project. Jeff Graham and his staff are a dynamic team and bring an extensive statewide network to the table,” Ellis said.

Georgia Equality and The Health Initiative came together several years ago to create the Phillip Rush Center, a community center for LGBTQ organizations and allies. The center is currently undergoing an expansion and raising money for the expansion. The Rush Center will be be the headquarters for Open Enrollment operations.

“Using the Rush Center as a service hub will allow community members to access health insurance navigation assistance in a location that they already know and trust,” said Georgia Equality Executive Director
Jeff Graham in a prepared statement.

“We are excited that when we unveil our completed construction project this fall, we will also be opening the door to new services for the community. This is a perfect example of our efforts being so much more than bricks and mortar,” Graham said.

Those interested in volunteering to help The Health Initiative as it helps people enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act should send an email to: info@thehealthinitiative.org with “Open Enrollment” in the subject header.

Photo: The Health Initiative Executive Director Linda Ellis. (by Dyana Bagby)

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