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Cigna and New York Life Expand Eligibility for ‘Brave of Heart Fund’ Grants Supporting Families of Healthcare Workers Who Lost Their Lives in the Fight Against COVID-19

Originally published at Cigna ranked No. 33 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.


On June 17, the foundations of New York Life and Cigna announced that the Brave of Heart Fund, which provides monetary grants to the families of heroic health care workers and volunteers nationwide who lost their lives in the fight against COVID-19, has extended its application deadline through the end of 2021. The Fund is also expanding its Phase 1 eligibility criteria to include parents, grandparents, siblings and non-dependent children in addition to spouses, domestic partners and dependent children.

In May 2020, the Brave of Heart Fund was launched by the foundations of New York Life and Cigna, alongside charitable partner E4E Relief. To date, the Fund has distributed nearly 800 awards to reach more than 525 families across 41 states, including Washington, D.C. For families impacted, the Fund provides initial grants of $15,000 to pay for immediate expenses and provides up to an additional $60,000 per family for long-term needs including medical care and counseling, housing, food, transportation and education.

“We launched the Fund to honor the brave frontline health care workers and volunteers who put their lives on the line to care for those in need—and have selflessly continued to do so throughout this incredibly challenging year,” said Ted Mathas, New York Life Chairman and CEO. “As we take the next steps in fighting this virus, we know that nothing can replace the millions of lives lost to COVID-19 but we hope to relieve some of the burdens by offering financial support to more families who have lost loved ones fighting on the front lines of the pandemic.”

“As more Americans get the COVID-19 vaccine and the reopening of a post-pandemic world seems possible again, we are expanding eligibility in order to reach more families who may require financial and emotional support after losing a loved one who has been on the front lines,” said David Cordani, President and CEO of Cigna Corporation. “We remain committed to doing our part to provide peace of mind for more families during these challenging times.”

“The families receiving these grants are reporting back to us in overwhelming numbers that these funds are providing critical breathing room as they figure out next steps allowing them to focus on their emotional recovery,” said E4E Relief CEO Holly Welch Stubbing. “With the continuation of this program and its expanded reach, we are able to amplify the impact.”

A recent Brave of Heart Fund grantee from Massachusetts reflected on the financial support provided, “The Brave of Heart Fund truly saved my life by providing me assistance after losing my husband. The financial grant I received helped me make payments on my car so I could continue getting to work. Through their assistance, I was also able to maintain payments so that I could stay in the home that my husband and I had lived in for years.”

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission recently recognized the Fund as a conduit to commemorate frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19, and, since launching, the Fund has received donations from more than 2,000 additional individuals, foundations and corporations.

For those eligible, the Fund currently is taking grant applications at Families of health care workers and volunteers nationwide – including doctors, nurses, technicians, orderlies, cafeteria workers, custodians, and others – who lost their lives working on the frontlines of the health care industry during the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible to apply for support from the Fund.

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