United Way of Southwest Alabama and FamilyWize recently announced that, through their joint partnership efforts, costs for prescription medications covering more than 21,000 local community residents were reduced by over $1.8 million last year.

The results were revealed in the partnership’s annual “Health Impact Report,” a compilation of data on joint initiatives organized by UWSWA and FamilyWize across the country.

In May, UWSWA and FamilyWize acknowledged Mental Health Awareness Month by joining the mental health community in efforts to educate patients on the importance of treatment adherence. The goal was to increase public understanding of mental illness and patient accessibility to affordable medications. Reportedly one in six adult Americans is affected by mental health conditions, with 56 percent of those not receiving treatment.

Highlights from the “Health Impact Report” for Southwest Alabama include:

• $456,627 savings on prescription mental health medications;

• 21,390 community members helped;

• 39 percent in average savings on prescription costs by using the FamilyWize Prescription Savings card; and

• $1,803,376 savings on all prescription medications.

“Rising prescription prices continue to be a major burden for individuals and families in our community, whether their medications are for mental health or another chronic illness. We consider ourselves advocates for individuals struggling with the high costs of mental illness,” UWSWA President and CEO Jill Chenoweth said.

“Our partnership with FamilyWize enables us to address this issue by offering abundant resources to all community members seeking affordable health care,” Chenoweth continued. “The impact we’re making is changing lives, and we look forward to supporting many more families in the years to come.”

“It’s heartening to see the far-reaching impact we’ve achieved through our strong ongoing partnership with United Way,” Dan Barnes, executive chairman and co-founder of FamilyWize, said. “We will continue working toward our goal of helping to educate people across the United States on ways to significantly lower drug costs and maintain prescription adherence.”

FamilyWize is one of the longest-running prescription savings programs and is accepted at most pharmacies nationwide, covering all approved prescription medications. More than 1,000 United Way agencies have collaborated with FamilyWize to help over 11 million Americans save more than $1 billion, with an average savings of 45 percent since the partnership began.

The program is free, has no eligibility or registration requirements and provides families and individuals access to affordable prescription medications. For more information about the program, visit familywize.org.

UWSWA serves Choctaw, Clarke, Mobile and Washington counties. Created in 1926 as a Community Chest, UWSWA’s mission is to improve the quality of life in the community. UWSWA has raised and invested into the local community more than $256 million to help strengthen its capacity for positive community progress.

Columbia Southern ranked among “most affordable” for military

Orange Beach-based Columbia Southern University was recently ranked No. 2 nationally among the most affordable military-friendly online schools for 2018. Other notable institutions include Texas Tech University (No. 7), Arizona State University (No. 13) and Mississippi State (No. 15).

The rankings, released by SR Education Group, listed the top 25 college and universities throughout the country that focus much of their educational program services around active military. Specifically, these institutions participate in the military tuition assistance program and have high scores on ease of use for members of the armed services.

According to SR Education, these scores were determined using a number of factors including the strength of military culture, prevalence of support services to online students, flexibility and military-specific financial aid.

Based in Alabama, Columbia Southern University is an online university that offers online associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in the areas of business administration, criminal justice, fire administration, and occupational safety and health.

“This ranking serves as an acknowledgement of the sincere efforts Columbia Southern University has made over the years to make education affordable and accessible to active-duty men, women and veterans,” said Ernie Rosado, PhD, director of CSU’s Military Outreach. “We are proud to say that nearly 40 percent of our student body is military.”

SR Education Group is an education research publisher founded in 2004 that creates authoritative online resources for students seeking an education that best suits their budget and career goals. To date it provides more than $250,000 in needs-based scholarships to students each year.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018, Columbia Southern University was established in 1993. More information can be found on the university’s website.

BASF unveils pollinator garden at McIntosh site

Fourth-grade students from McIntosh Elementary School recently attended the unveiling of the newly installed pollinator garden and outdoor classroom at BASF. Forty students helped BASF celebrate the unveiling by releasing monarch butterflies in the pollinator garden and participating in an instructor-led Kids’ Lab workshop that explored chemistry through safe and engaging experiments coupled with interactive demonstrations.

“Through BASF’s pollinator garden and Kids’ Lab program we hope to further educate and empower the future leaders of our community,” said Jason Slinkard, BASF site director in McIntosh. “Helping to ensure a healthy monarch butterfly population is also part of BASF’s commitment to sustainability and being responsible environmental stewards.”

The pollinator garden stems from the biodiversity research initiative BASF launched two years ago called Living Acres. While populations of the monarch butterflies have plummeted by approximately 90 percent in the last 20 years and continue to decline, this initiative is pushing forward to provide information to farmers about planting milkweed in non-crop areas in an economical and practical manner with the goal of increasing the monarch species population.

Through the collaboration with Scotts Miracle-Gro, 200 bags of garden soil and 24 jugs of plant food were provided to sustain plant life growing in the pollinator garden. Through its Pollinator Promise program, Scotts has helped more than 100 communities — and counting — establish or expand pollinator gardens.

For more information about BASF’s Living Acres program, visit basf.us/alabama.