The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Louisiana Foundation has set a Jan. 13 deadline for organizations and communities to submit letters of intent to apply for up to $10 million in matching grant funds to fight obesity.

The foundation and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, its partner in the Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana grant program, also are offering potential grant applicants technical assistance workshops and a web-based meetup option to help them find each other and work together, according to a news release.

Pennington is noted for its work to address childhood obesity and recognized as the foremost academic nutritional research center in the world. It is administering the Blue Cross Foundation grant program, which will offer matching funding to non-profit organizations for projects that promote healthy eating, active living and environmental change.

“The Blue Cross Foundation has committed $10 million to preventing obesity because it is a major public health concern that diminishes the quality of lives of Louisianians and drives up health - care costs,” said Foundation President Peggy Scott in the release. “We want to support and work with local non-profit organizations that have innovative ideas to promote healthy living in their communities.”

The foundation and Pennington held eight introductory workshops across Louisiana in the fall to promote the challenge grant program. Nearly 275 people, representing almost 175 unique organizations, attended the workshops. A second round of technical assistance workshops will begin in January in cities most represented in the letters of intent.

“We were overwhelmed by the attendance at the introductory workshops, which represented a broad range of organizations that work with children and families in Louisiana. In many cases, there were standing-room-only crowds,” said Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk, associate executive director for population science at the Pennington Center. “That keen interest shows there was a real need for the challenge grant program. We look forward to receiving letters of intent to see the ideas that people have come up with.”

Louisiana non-profit groups are eligible for the grants, but projects should have multiple collaborators. The Blue Cross Foundation encourages applicants to partner with local municipalities, school districts, universities, hospitals, research centers and/or chambers of commerce. The Blue Cross Foundation will award grants ranging from $250,000 to $1 million. Applicants must provide at least a one-to-one match in funding, which may come from various sources. Up to half of the matching funds may be in kind. The final applications are due April 30. Those interested can find detailed information about the grant requirements and application timeline at www.OurHomeLouisiana.org.