FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 16, 2015
The California Wellness Foundation
Foundation relies on a diverse mix of grantees to pursue health equity
In the fourth quarter of 2015, The California Wellness Foundation (Cal Wellness) approved 49 grants totaling $10.3 million under the Foundation’s Advancing Wellness program. The grantees are diverse in their characteristics, but they share a common trait: each contributes to the goal of health equity.
“At Cal Wellness, we have found that we need a wide range of organizations within our grantmaking portfolios,” said Fatima Angeles, vice president of programs. “Investing in a diverse ecosystem of nonprofit organizations strengthens the field and enhances the body of work. We learn a great deal from the different experiences of these grantees, which allows us to become a more responsive, relevant and effective grantmaker.”
In Ventura County, Women of Substance & Men of Honor is a fairly new organization with a small budget that received funding from Cal Wellness to provide educational enrichment and college readiness for youth at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, as well as re-entry services. On the other end of the spectrum, a grant to Alliance for Justice, a large institution that was established in 1979, will receive funding for its Bolder Advocacy Initiative to provide technical assistance to organizations statewide related to the rules and regulations governing policy advocacy activities.
Cal Wellness has also supported small start-up organizations that have grown into more established, influential institutions. In particular, the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW) started out as a very small organization, but funding from the Foundation over the years helped it attract additional funders, and it has now become a successful, midsized establishment. Cal Wellness approved a grant this quarter to EJCW to continue to improve access to safe drinking water for underserved Californians statewide. A complementary grant was also approved for Klamath Riverkeeper to protect and restore the Klamath River and its tributaries in order to improve water quality, human health and quality of life for Native Americans and other community residents.
“For many poor communities in the state, creating a healthy environment must start with creating access to clean, safe and affordable water. As many as 2 million Californians may have water that is unsafe to drink while the drought has caused 2,000 wells supplying drinking water for households to go dry,” said Earl Lui, a Cal Wellness program director who recently wrote an Advancing Wellness blog entry on this topic.
A number of grants were also approved for organizations that have not previously received funding from Cal Wellness. One of these groups is Dignity and Power Now in Los Angeles, a community-based organization that connects youth and residents to local community organizing campaigns aimed at reducing violence. Cal Wellness has been funding violence prevention efforts since its creation and continues to fund new organizations in this area. Given the increase in mass shootings across the U.S., specifically the shooting in San Bernardino on December 2, Cal Wellness is committed to continuing to invest in gun violence prevention.
Long-time grantees of the Foundation also received funding this quarter, such as the Liberty Hill Foundation, which will use its funding for regranting to grassroots organizations that are addressing a number of issues of interest to underserved areas of Los Angeles, such as oil drilling, economic justice and racial justice.
While the grant to Liberty Hill Foundation allows Cal Wellness to focus on a mix of issues in one geographic area, Cal Wellness also makes grants to multiple organizations that complement each other’s focus on one health equity issue. A grant approved this quarter for the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education (CLRE) will build upon work of current grantees, such as the East Bay Alliance for A New Economy and Center on Policy Initiatives, that are advocating for policies related to increasing wages and benefits for low-income workers. With Cal Wellness’ funding, CRLE will provide research and technical assistance for policymakers and other stakeholders on city and state minimum-wage standards and other policy solutions for workers in poverty.
“The connection between income and health is clear, and our support for regional efforts has allowed organizations to take advantage of local policy opportunities to increase wages and paid sick leave beyond federal and state minimums,” said Judy Belk, president and CEO. “It will continue to take a variety of groups working across the state to pass local ordinances that will eventually translate into widespread support for improved wages and benefits for low-income workers.”
The California Wellness Foundation is a private independent foundation created in 1992 with a mission to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention.
On Oct. 1, 2014, Cal Wellness introduced its Advancing Wellness grants program designed to promote equity through advocacy and access. The grantmaking focuses on three interconnected portfolios: Bridging the Gaps in Access and Quality Care; Promoting Healthy and Safe Neighborhoods; and Expanding Education and Employment Pathways. The program also includes the Opportunity Fund to support innovation in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.
Since its founding in 1992, Cal Wellness has awarded 7,690 grants totaling more than $912 million.