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The political chaos at the national level has a direct impact on the wellness of Californians. People are living in fear — fear of deportation, fear of losing health coverage, fear of violence. That’s not acceptable.


July 19, 2017

Richard Tate, Vice President of Public Affairs
The California Wellness Foundation
(415) 908-3021

Cal Wellness Invests $8 Million to Advance and Defend Wellness

Woodland Hills (CA) – The California Wellness Foundation today announced grants totaling more than $8 million as part of its Advance and Defend Wellness campaign, a focused response to threats to the well-being of Californians in the nation’s unpredictable political and social landscape. Many of the grants are multiyear, general operating grants, which allow grantees to be responsive to emerging needs in the rapidly changing environment. This brings to more than $14 million the amount of grants awarded since the campaign was announced in January.

“The political chaos at the national level has a direct impact on the wellness of Californians. People are living in fear — fear of deportation, fear of losing health coverage, fear of violence. That’s not acceptable,” said Judy Belk, president and CEO of Cal Wellness. “As a health funder that values health as a human right, we’ve pushed ourselves to respond quickly and strategically to address the needs of our state’s most vulnerable people, and we continue to look for ways to partner with colleagues in philanthropy, business and government to advance and defend the wellness of all Californians.”

The strategies behind the Advance and Defend Wellness campaign, along with key grants within those areas, are listed below.

  • Addressing the needs of immigrants: To protect immigrant communities, which are a vital part of a healthy California, grants have been made for activities related to advocacy, organizing and public policy efforts; state and federal efforts related to impact litigation and immigration; naturalization; and “know-your-rights” education and deportation defense. In particular, U.S. citizenship is now a health protective factor, and Cal Wellness grantees Immigrant Legal Resource Center and Catholic Charities of California are expanding and expediting their efforts to naturalize eligible immigrants. ILRC will focus its efforts in the Central Valley and Orange County, and CCC will target Imperial and San Diego counties.
  • Protecting access to health care: Although the future of health care in the U.S. is unpredictable, it is vital that advocates, community leaders and institutions continue to inform, and put pressure on, policymakers to improve access for all. Grants have been made to support organizations working in California, as well as those working on national issues that will have a major impact on California. Grantees include Small Business Majority and the California Primary Care Association, which are increasing their efforts to inform policymakers about the vital roles that small businesses and community clinics play in ensuring health care coverage and care for millions of Californians.
  • Bolstering the safety net: To preserve access to health care services and other safety-net programs, grants have been made to organizations working on advocacy, community organizing and public education at the local, state and national levels. One Cal Wellness grantee, Black Women’s Health Imperative, is advocating to strengthen the reproductive health safety net and involve California’s black women in advocacy efforts and the implementation of any changes in health policy.
  • Preventing hate-based violence: To address the alarming rise in hate-based violence in California’s communities since the November 2016 election, grants have been made to organizations to allow them to respond quickly to emerging opportunities and threats with legal services, trainings and public education. These grants align with Cal Wellness’ long-standing commitment to violence prevention as a public health issue. One Cal Wellness grantee, the Council on American-Islamic Relations California, will champion the rights of Muslim Americans by working with the media to challenge anti-Muslim rhetoric and promote authentic Muslim voices.

The complete list of second-quarter grants can be found here.

In addition to grantmaking, Cal Wellness uses its voice and public affairs capacity to advocate for health as a human right and wellness for all. The Advance and Defend campaign statement, titled “Together, We Advance and Defend Wellness,” was issued in January 2017, and resulted in a six-month online campaign. A variety of philanthropic and community partners issued their own statements and perspectives on Twitter and other social media channels, using #AdvanceandDefend. Many of those interactions are spotlighted here, on Storify, an online tool for aggregating social media.

The California Wellness Foundation is celebrating 25 years as a private, independent foundation with a mission to advance wellness for all Californians by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. Since its founding in 1992, Cal Wellness has awarded more than $987 million in charitable contributions, which include matching gifts and 8750 grants.


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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