Skip to main content

Aetna invests in early literacy, employment accessibility and cultural care in Oklahoma

March 5, 2024 |5 minute read time

Woman playing with child

Community investments bolster resources for three Oklahoma nonprofits

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, March 5, 2024 — Aetna Better Health of Oklahoma, a CVS Health® company (NYSE: CVS), announced that Aetna® has provided community investments to three local nonprofits — Reach Out and Read, Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma and Cut It Forward. The community investments, totaling more than $32,000, will support employment accessibility, encourage childhood literacy and health initiatives and promote culturally focused care for children of color in congregate settings.

“As a member of the local Oklahoma community, we’re living and working alongside our partners to promote equitable access to health care and improve quality of life for Oklahomans,” said Sonja Hughes, MD, CEO of Aetna Better Health of Oklahoma. “Together, we can create lasting impact across the state by addressing social determinants of health and empowering individuals and families to lead healthier lives.”

The donation to Reach Out and Read will support Reach Out and Read Oklahoma, which, provides early literacy intervention to over 100 clinics in the state. In partnership with Aetna, Reach Out and Read Oklahoma will continue to support positive, language-rich interactions through early literacy alongside age-appropriate developmental screenings and a new oral health initiative. These efforts will help clinicians identify developmental concerns in young children and connect them with support services, as well as improve oral health literacy and reduce dental decay through the application of fluoride varnish.

“At Reach Out and Read Oklahoma, it’s our goal that all pediatric health care providers support the nurturing of both healthy brain development and positive connections through early literacy promotion as a standard of care,” said Lori Lake, executive director of Reach Out and Read Oklahoma. “With the support of Aetna, we’re able to equip even more medical clinicians with the training and tools needed to incorporate these screenings into their practices while improving early literacy and oral health education across the state.”

Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma works to empower individuals to overcome challenges to employment. Aetna’s community investment supports Goodwill’s Begin At Home program, which provides wrap-around services for Goodwill employees — from career development and job training to vital emergency resources. The funding will help employees overcome the barrier of transportation by providing approximately 50 bicycles to ensure they have access to reliable transportation to and from work at Goodwill.

“We believe in the power of work to transform people’s lives and create a brighter future. At the same time, we understand that many individuals face significant obstacles to regular attendance at work, with over 70% of Goodwill employees facing at least one major employment barrier,” said Jim Priest, chief executive officer and president of Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma. “Through our collaboration with Aetna, we’re working to overcome transportation barriers and help our employees take the first step toward a successful, sustainable career.”

Cut It Forward provides culturally focused hair and skin care resources for foster and adopted children of color, and their caregivers. To-date, the organization has served over 900 individuals in the Oklahoma City area through coaching, workshops and critical product support. Aetna’s investment will help fund five Crowning Curls workshops for foster children and their caregivers in congregate settings to address common needs, challenges and best practices for ethnic hair and skin care.

“Hair and skin care are critical to physical and mental wellness and can have a direct impact on a child’s self-esteem and connection to their culture and identity. Unfortunately, children of color are disproportionately represented in foster systems and oftentimes their culturally specific needs go unaddressed and misunderstood,” said Vanessa Morrison, co-founder of Cut It Forward. “Together, with collaborators such as Aetna, we can continue to improve access to safe, immersive learning environments for children and cultivate a community with a greater understanding of and respect for the cultural experiences of children of color.”

# # #

About Aetna Medicaid

Aetna Medicaid Administrators LLC (Aetna Medicaid), a CVS Health company, has over 30 years of experience managing the care of under-resourced populations, using innovative approaches and a local presence in each market to achieve both successful health care results and effective cost outcomes. Aetna Medicaid has expertise serving high-need Medicaid members, including those who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. Currently, Aetna Medicaid owns and/or administers Medicaid managed health care plans under the names of Aetna Better Health and other affiliate names. Together, these plans serve members in 15 states, including Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. For more information, see

About CVS Health

CVS Health® is the leading health solutions company, delivering care like no one else can. We reach more people and improve the health of communities across America through our local presence, digital channels and over 300,000 dedicated colleagues — including more than 40,000 physicians, pharmacists, nurses and nurse practitioners. Wherever and whenever people need us, we help them with their health — whether that’s managing chronic diseases, staying compliant with their medications or accessing affordable health and wellness services in the most convenient ways. We help people navigate the health care system — and their personal health care — by improving access, lowering costs and being a trusted partner for every meaningful moment of health. And we do it all with heart, each and every day. Follow @CVSHealth on social media.

Media contact

Robert Joyce

Related tags

Get our latest news

Sign up for our newsletter

Thank you for subscribing. There seems to be a problem. Please try again later.
Select subscriptions

Please select at least one of the above.

Please enter a valid email.

Tackling public health challenges with heart