FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 24, 2015
The California Wellness Foundation
$8 Million in Grants Approved at September Board Meeting
The California Wellness Foundation (Cal Wellness) concluded its first year under the Advancing Wellness grants program with the Board approving 33 grants at its September 2015 meeting, totaling $8 million. While the grantees differ in size, type of work and geographic location, each grant represents a step toward equity for underserved individuals and families. Of special interest in this docket are grants focused on immigrants and Native Americans, as well as funding for a program that engages artists to promote violence prevention.
One cluster of grants is focused on increasing health and wellness of immigrant populations. More than 10 million immigrants live in California, 2.5 million of whom are undocumented. Many face major health inequities and lack access to educational, economic and civic participation opportunities.
“Although immigrants are a significant portion of California’s population, their quality of life is suffering, which is also limiting California’s social and economic progress,” said Fatima Angeles, vice president of programs. “Now is the time to help them achieve healthy lives, which includes fully participating in community life and having a sense of belonging and purpose.”
Funding for the National Immigration Law Center will support education of policymakers about the health and human service needs of immigrants and about the importance of integration, legal status and citizenship. Grants were also approved for community clinics serving immigrants, and for organizations increasing the number and diversity of culturally competent health care professionals.
Cal Wellness is also strongly committed to strengthening organizations that provide culturally and linguistically appropriate health care for Native Americans. In fact, Cal Wellness was invited to attend the White House Conference on Creating Opportunity for Native Youth in recognition of the Foundation’s grantmaking related to this population.
“Within the U.S., California has the largest Native American population and the highest number of distinct tribes. Many of these Native Americans suffer severe health challenges, among them high rates of asthma, heart disease and diabetes. At the root of these challenges are difficulties accessing quality health care and insurance coverage,” said Judy Belk, Cal Wellness’ president and CEO. “While there are health programs coordinated by the government that serve Native Americans, most of these adults and youth continue to rely on local safety net providers for all their health care needs, including oral health.”
Grants were approved to support public policy advocacy and outreach to meet the health needs of urban and rural Native Americans, and to strengthen the health professions pipeline for Native American students. Funding was also approved for direct services, including a grant to the California Rural Indian Health Board, Inc.
Increasing diversity in the health professions is a priority for Cal Wellness, not just among Native Americans, but all underserved populations. Research shows that increasing the number of underrepresented people serving communities of color improves access and quality of care, especially since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. A grant to the Physicians Medical Forum will support academic assistance, scholarships and outreach to minority students pursuing health care-related careers in Northern California.
Cal Wellness is also pleased to announce funding for the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC), which will support training and regranting programs for violence prevention leaders engaged in storytelling and film projects. The grant will also support film documentaries related to violence prevention to encourage civic dialogue.
“I am very excited about our partnership with BAVC and look forward to seeing the fruits of their labor as they use the art of storytelling and filmmaking to combat violence and promote healthy and safe neighborhoods,” said Belk.
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.