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Advancing Wellness

Bridging the Gaps in Access and Quality Care

Promoting Healthy and Safe Neighborhoods

Expanding Education and Employment Pathways

Opportunity Fund

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Overview of Expanding Education and Employment Pathways

Education and employment are strong predictors of good health. Research indicates that a person’s health improves as his or her income level rises. Education is a pathway to better jobs, living wages and greater opportunities for individuals to provide for the health and wellness of their families.

What We Support


Jeffrey S. Kim
Program Director


Increasing Educational Opportunities for Resilient Youth

Increasingly, prospects for a healthy, fulfilling and self-sufficient life depend on a postsecondary education. Cal Wellness is committed to paths that increase access to, and completion of, an educational credential beyond a high school degree or GED certificate (whether that be through a four-year university, a community college or a career/technical/vocational program) for adolescents and young adults we define as resilient youth. Resilient youth are young people, ages 14 to 26, who are in, or have exited, the juvenile or adult criminal justice systems; are currently or were formerly in foster care; or are/were homeless.

Key Strategies & Target Populations

Key Strategies

  • College readiness programs, such as campus-based support and vocational training
  • Capacity building for organizations providing social supports
  • Leadership development programs for youth at risk of not reaching their academic goals
  • Expansion and development of community college and higher education opportunities in juvenile and adult correctional facilities
  • Research and data collection
  • Advocacy for policies that support resilient youth who are pursuing higher education and vocational training

Target Populations

  • Resilient Youth: young people, ages 14 to 26, who are in, or have exited, the juvenile or adult criminal justice systems; are currently or were formerly in foster care; or are/were homeless.

Examples of Funded Grants

  • Core operating support for activities focused on effective implementation of policies designed to support the postsecondary educational aspirations of youth in the foster care system, such as SB 1023, AB 12 and the Local Control Funding Formula.
  • Funding to develop educational support (including college readiness) for youth in juvenile detention facilities and for supportive services (e.g., tutoring, life skills training and financial assistance) for their transition to, and through, college.
  • Core operating support to sustain college campus-based wraparound services for current and former foster youth pursuing higher education, including academic counseling, tutoring, practical and emotional support, and education and career planning.
  • Core operating support to sustain supportive housing and programs that focus on improving postsecondary educational, employment and self-sufficiency outcomes of homeless youth.

Resources on This Issue


Padmini Parthasarathy
Program Director


Promoting Employment and Asset-Building Opportunities

Health is supported by access to sufficient income, but many Californians face barriers to achieving financial security that goes beyond meeting their basic needs. Our funding seeks to improve health outcomes by strengthening pathways to obtaining and retaining employment, and building financial assets. Cal Wellness funds comprehensive workforce development and asset building, as well as health organizations that address financial security as a health issue.

Key Strategies & Target Populations

Key Strategies

  • Comprehensive workforce development programs that are tailored to one or more of the target populations below. Such programs would include sector-based job training; wraparound support services; placement of alumni into jobs with pathways to living wages, benefits and career advancement; and job retention services.
  • Efforts to promote and develop microenterprises, worker-owned cooperatives and social enterprises.
  • Strategies to strengthen and improve access to income supports, such as CalFresh, CalWORKS, the earned income tax credit and other tax credits, utility assistance and paid family leave.
  • Integration of asset building into health, human service and workforce development programs. Asset-building approaches may include financial coaching, credit repair, building savings and alternative financial products.
  • Cross-sector approaches that address financial security as a major determinant of health.
  • Public policy efforts to address improved wages and benefits, use of community benefit agreements, building of financial assets and other efforts to improve employment and income.
  • Public policy efforts to address discriminatory, deceptive and predatory financial practices and services targeting low-income people.

Target Populations

  • Boys and men of color
  • Formerly incarcerated adults
  • Resilient youth
  • Military veterans
  • Women

Examples of Funded Grants

Please Note: The grants descriptions below are for reference only and offer examples of what Cal Wellness commonly funds under this grantmaking area. They should not be considered the only efforts that the Foundation will support.

  • Core operating support to improve health outcomes by providing job training and support services to former gang members and previously incarcerated individuals.
  • Funding for the launch and expansion of a comprehensive workforce development program to prepare unemployed veterans for careers in information technology.
  • Funding to advance policies that improve wages and benefits for low-income families through policy analysis, coalition building, strategic communications, and outreach to policymakers and workers.
  • Project support for a community market in a low-income area that is strengthening the local economy and providing trainings, microgrants and licensing scholarships to vendors, to improve health outcomes.

Resources on This Issue

Crystal D. Crawford
Program Director

Initiative Opportunity: Through an initiative, Cal Wellness will proactively support programs and services that improve the economic well-being of women exiting the criminal justice system and women who are formerly incarcerated. Cal Wellness is in the planning stages for this initiative, for which we anticipate involving many stakeholders. Those interested in providing input should send an e-mail to

Our Work

  • We use our resources to advance our mission through grantmaking, investments, sharing our learning and lifting our voice.
  • We fund direct services that address the urgent needs people are facing in their communities, particularly the needs of low-income individuals, people of color, youth and residents of rural areas.
  • We recognize, encourage and strengthen leaders to be powerful agents of change.
  • We support advocacy and civic engagement so that communities can build power and create public policies that reflect their vision, will and needs.
  • We trust and invest in nonprofit organizations so that they can operate at full capacity.
  • We partner with community-led organizations, philanthropic organizations, businesses, government and individuals who want to improve health and wellness for Californians.

Our Mission

To protect and improve the health and wellness of the people of California by increasing access to health care, quality education, good jobs, healthy environments and safe neighborhoods.

The California Wellness Foundation • City National Plaza, 515 S. Flower Street, Suite 1100 • Los Angeles, CA, 90071 • Tel: (818)­ 702–1900

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