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USC Annenberg launches Health Journalism Impact Fund with support from the California Wellness Foundation

Luskin’s Watts Leadership Institute

The USC Annenberg School of Journalism today announced the launch of the Center for Health Journalism Impact Fund, which supports results-focused, explanatory and investigative reporting on the health of underserved communities.

Through the fund, grant makers can contribute critical financial support at a pivotal moment — when the future of healthcare and social welfare benefits has become more central to the national debate than ever before. More…

Americans Living in Communities Where Gun Violence is Prevalent More Likely to Experience Negative Health and Behavioral Outcomes

Luskin’s Watts Leadership Institute

Experiencing community violence increases risk of trauma, and is especially harmful for children and adolescents

Washington, DC — “Individuals living in communities where violence is prevalent are at increased risk for a broad range of negative health and behavior outcomes,” according to The Relationship Between Community Violence and Trauma: How Violence Affects Learning, Health, and Behavior, a new report from the Violence Policy Center (VPC) and the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles (VPCGLA). More…

A Grassroots Mission in Watts

Luskin’s Watts Leadership Institute

UCLA Luskin’s Watts Leadership Institute launches a 10-year program to build a legacy of leaders and empowerment

If you’re searching for the heartbeat of the UCLA Watts Leadership Institute, look no further than 10360 Wilmington Ave. in Los Angeles. What was once a liquor store is now the home of the multifaceted Watts Century Latino Organization.

On a recent Saturday, more than 70 volunteers gathered there to help with a grassroots task: plant a community garden. The event was part of the citywide Sharefest Community Workday, but it represented much more for Jorja Leap, an adjunct professor of social welfare in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, and for the Watts Leadership Institute’s first cohort — community members who hold the key to deepening the indigenous leadership of Watts. More…

4 Problems Affecting Oral Health In California

Health Center

Oral health experts and key policymakers met in Sacramento to discuss the state of oral health in California on May 17. There was a general consensus that the way dental care is financed and delivered needs to be innovated.

The forum was organized by the journal Health Affairs and included panelists from the ADA Health Policy Institute, Pew Charitable Trusts, and multiple California dental schools. Several policymakers instrumental in shaping oral health policy were in attendance, including California's state dental director, Jayanth Kumar, DDS, MPH. More…

Latino Leaders And Advocates Unite To Unleash Political Power

Latino Policy Summit

AG Becerra, Pro Tem De Leon Join 350 Latino Leaders Organizing For Action

During this critical moment for immigrant communities, the Latino Community Foundation (LCF) is hosting a day of action for 350 community leaders, advocates, and elected officials to demand bold action to secure the future of Latinos in California. Leaders will march together to the Capitol where key meetings will be held to advance an agenda that prioritizes Latinos in CA. More…

Oral HealthHealth Affairs Oral Health Issue

Cal Wellness is among the funders of a special Health Affairs issue on oral health. It details the state of oral health in the U.S. today — revealing that it is one of the nation’s greatest unmet health needs. Among the many in-depth articles are:

Seeking Dental Care For Older Americans click here.

Underrepresented Minority Dentists: Quantifying Their Numbers And Characterizing The Communities They Serve click here.

The entire issue is available from the Health Affairs website. The website also shares materials from a recent briefing held in Washington, D.C. that shared many insights, research and trends related to oral health.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Health Center Awaits

Health Center

Enrollment is open to obtain health coverage through California’s health exchange marketplace, Covered California, which was created through the Affordable Care Act. Deadline to enroll is January 31, 2017. A related resource is “Six Things To Know About Marketplace Coverage” from Enroll America. It includes facts such as “more than four in five people qualify for financial help.”

If you are fortunate enough to have health care coverage and have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act – including expansion of Medicaid (MediCal), then tell your story! First-person accounts from real people can move hearts and minds about the importance of vital programs. Don’t underestimate the power of your voice! Share via Twitter, Facebook with the hashtag #CoverageMatters or contribute your story here.

The Club No One Wants To Join

In a new essay published on the Huffington Post, Cal Wellness’ President and CEO Judy Belk shares a sad memory of losing her sister to gun violence and how it continues to motivate her to unite with others in “the club no one wants to join.” Belk shares some great progress made in California and invites others to join in taking action to end gun violence. To read this inspiring post titled, “One Year After San Bernardino” click here.

Hope and Heal Fund Brings Funders Together to Take Action against Gun Violence in California

Gun violence poses a major threat to the health and safety of our communities. In California, guns claim about 3,000 lives every year. On the one year mark of the tragic shooting in San Bernardino, we mourn and remember those innocent victims and all victims of senseless gun violence. But we must do more than remember — we must act. Funders and communities are coming together to take action to stop the epidemic of gun violence in California.

Cal Wellness has joined other philanthropies, corporations and individuals as founding supporters of The Hope and Heal Fund. The Fund invests in research, advocacy and on-the-ground programs to tackle all forms of violence, including violent crime, suicide and domestic violence — and the socioeconomic conditions that make gun violence more likely. Check out “One Year after San Bernardino Shooting, Hope and Heal Fund Launches to Stop Gun Violence in California,” by the Fund’s Director Brian Malte. To learn more about how you can get involved, please visit

The Advancing Wellness Poll

What makes a healthy community? Cal Wellness and Zócalo Public Square are teaming up to host a series of public conversations— in Fresno, Riverside and Los Angeles — around the issues of health, wellness, and community. These special events are inspired by findings from the Advancing Wellness Poll, which was conducted by Field Research Corporation and will be released by Cal Wellness on October 19, 2016. For more information about this effort and the free events, which are open to the public, click here.

Disparities revealed in Simone Manuel’s Olympic triumph

In a new Los Angeles Times opinion editorial, Cal Wellness President and CEO Judy Belk points out that while thrilling, the milestone victory of Olympian Simone Manuel puts a spotlight on a lack of diversity in competitive swimming. Contributing factors include geography, race, access and poverty. To access the full article on the Los Angeles Times website, click here.

We All Have #ReasonsForHope

Second Installment

Cal Wellness and philanthropies across the U.S. are fortunate to be inspired by the mission-focused efforts of the nonprofit organizations we fund. As America struggles with discord and despair brought by recent violence, we realize how important it is to share successes — so we can all be inspired. The #ReasonsForHope campaign launched with newspaper ads and video in early August, and continues with the social media hashtag #ReasonsForHope to encourage us all to share stories of hope and take action by engaging with organizations that work for positive change. More…

#SchoolsNotPrisons Empowers Youth, Sheds Light on What Really Keeps Us Safe

A statewide 2016 #SchoolsNotPrisons concert tour is making its way to 11 venues across the state plus three additional performances at prisons in California. Youth leaders join national and local performing artists to call for an end to overspending on prisons and, instead to prioritize spending more on education, health and support for youth — investments that really keep us safe because they are rooted in prevention and positive community development.

Since 1980, California has built 22 prisons, but just one UC campus. The state spends six times more to keep a person in state prison than on a student in K-12 schools. And in 2014, youth arrests outnumbered youth votes in California. An important goal of the tour is to increase activism and voting among California's young people.

Support for the music tour is being provided by The California Endowment and The California Wellness Foundation. For the tour schedule and more information, see

We All Have #ReasonsForHope

As America struggles with the discord and despair brought by recent violence, Cal Wellness President and CEO Judy Belk joins philanthropic leaders across the U.S. in a campaign to raise up reasons for hope. The campaign, featuring newspaper ads across the country and the social media hashtag #ReasonsForHope, encourages us all to share stories of hope and to take action by engaging with organizations in our communities that are working for positive change.

At Cal Wellness, we draw hope from efforts to improve the health of all Californians by leveling the playing field so that everyone has access to safe neighborhoods, good-paying jobs, and quality health care services. More…

Enough!Enough Violence, Promote Wellness

Five police officers were killed by a lone gunman in Dallas, Texas during a once peaceful street protest to call attention to the recent deaths of two black men at the hands of police — one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the other in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Cal Wellness mourns this loss of life in both the African American and law enforcement communities.

These incidents reflect two major concerns we want to continue to address— that boys and men of color are disproportionately victims of violence, and that easy access to guns threatens the lives of community residents and those who work to protect and serve them. These entrenched problems are fueling a growing violence epidemic in our country. Enough!

In the wake of such devastating, heartbreaking news, it is easy to succumb to a sense of helplessness. But it is precisely in such moments that we need to strengthen our resolve to promote stronger, safer communities. Let’s remember that in California, gun-related homicides have gone down by almost 60% in the past 24 years. During that period, Cal Wellness has made $135.6 million in grants using strategies that foster boys and men of color and bring many stakeholders into the prevention effort — communities, faith leaders, researchers, interventionists, and — law enforcement.

Cal Wellness is committed to building bridges across divides to fortify our prevention efforts. Our combined strength and dedication to preventing gun violence and promoting wellness is the best way forward to quell this epidemic.

To find out more about turning grief into action visit our violence prevention resource section and join the conversation on Twitter at #Enough!

A Humanitarian CrisisSupreme Court Deadlock Keeps Immigrants’ Health at Risk

Cal Wellness is deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s failure to act in the case of United States v. Texas and its implications for full implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. These administrative actions, introduced in 2014, would have allowed some undocumented immigrants to apply to temporarily live and work in the U.S. without fear of being separated from their families. A ruling in favor of the U.S. would have helped ensure the integration of millions of long-term immigrants by allowing them to come out of the shadows.

As a health foundation, we care deeply about these issues because we know that legal status for immigrants allows access to health care, education and jobs – all critical to the health and wellness of individuals and communities. Of the 10 million immigrants residing in California, more than 1.5 million would have been eligible for DAPA and expanded DACA. While the outcome from the Supreme Court is not ideal, we hope California, home to the nation’s largest number of immigrants, will continue to be at the forefront of inclusivity, because we are all healthier when everyone is valued and respected as members of our communities. We are grateful for the work of so many of our grantees who share this commitment to inclusion and the health and wellness of immigrant communities.

Cal Wellness’ President and CEO Judy Belk has written an essay about this issue “Supreme Court Deadlock Keeps Immigrants’ Health at Risk” in the Huffington Post.

A recommended resource is this statement from the National Immigration Law Center related to the Justice Department’s request made on July 18 for a rehearing of U.S. v. Texas.

For more information, visit our Featured Resources and News page.

A Humanitarian Crisis

Cal Wellness mourns the lives lost in Orlando

Let’s turn our sorrow into solutions

Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, the largest in modern U.S. history, has shocked the nation. Once again, we struggle to find words to express our grief and outrage. This time, gun violence appears to have been targeted at the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. People doing nothing more than enjoying a night out have been struck down and lost their lives because of hatred. We’ve had enough.

We had enough when children were massacred in Sandy Hook. We had enough when three were killed at the Fort Hood military base in Texas; when six were killed in the California college town of Isla Vista; and when nine were killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. We had enough when fourteen men and women were killed at a holiday gathering in San Bernardino just last December, and when, less than two weeks ago, a professor was killed at UCLA.

Once again, we say enough! For resources and information on how to turn sorrow into solutions, read blog posts by Cal Wellness President and CEO Judy Belk and Cal Wellness Program Director Julio Marcial, visit our 20-Plus Years of Violence Prevention page, and join the conversation at #Enough!

For those interested in supporting the families and communities affected in the Orlando shooting, Funders for LGBTQ Issues has put together a collection of links for those who want to help.

A Humanitarian CrisisProfiles of progress: California’s counties working toward health coverage for all

Cal Wellness grantee Health Access has compiled a report about historic changes taking place at the county level to ensure health care access for all Californians. After the Affordable Care Act went into effect, counties were still faced with meeting the needs of those who remained ineligible for health insurance, including undocumented individuals and families. The report, titled Profiles of Progress: California Counties Taking Steps to a More Inclusive and Smarter Safety-Net, provides context and analysis of pilot programs being implemented by six counties, as well as by the County Medical Services Program, which provides indigent care for 35 small, rural counties. While these limited-benefit programs fall short of full coverage, the hope is that these reforms will contribute to a culture of coverage and encourage other counties to continue to experiment and seek new opportunities to ensure health care access for all. More.

Message to Physicians:
It’s okay to ask your patients about access to firearms


Garen Wintemute, co-author of the study and director of the Violence Prevention Research Center at UC Davis

Some doctors either feel uncomfortable discussing firearms with their patients or actually believe it’s against the law. A new study by physicians at UC Davis, Brown University and the University of Colorado sends a clear message that it is not against the law and, for patients in certain high-risk groups, a conversation about access to firearms is clearly connected to health and safety.

The study was funded in part by Cal Wellness, and one of the lead authors, Garen Wintemute, M.D., M.P.H., is the director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis, a longtime grantee of Cal Wellness. Wintemute recommends that physicians educate themselves on how and when to introduce firearms into conversations with their patients. This study identifies high-risk groups — such as those with histories of violence, mental disorders and/or substance abuse, as well as people in certain demographic groups — and provides recommendations for talking to patients about guns. An article on the study appeared in Time magazine on May 17 and can be accessed here.

“Bolder Together 2” report outlines lessons learned on civic participation

photo courtesy of Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register

People of color already make up the majority of California’s 39 million residents. Yet, voting rates among communities of color remain low, which means their interests, as well as those of their families, are not reflected in local and state policymaking. Cal Wellness is among 10 foundations working with California Civic Participation Funders to increase civic participation among these historically underrepresented communities. Representing a diverse range of issues and missions, these foundations came together based on the shared belief that democracy is stronger when more people are engaged and voting, and when families and communities can advocate more powerfully for themselves. California Civic Participation Funders’ new report, “Bolder Together 2,” captures key takeaways gleaned from the initiative’s work with local organizations in four large counties that are undergoing dramatic demographic shifts: San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside. To read the report, click here.

Report provides answers to California’s primary care shortage

Horizon 2030: Meeting California’s Primary Care Workforce Needs, a new report commissioned by grantee California Primary Care Association, examines the growing shortage of primary care providers in the state — particularly in medically underserved areas — and provides a roadmap to addressing the problem. Some of the recommendations include increasing residencies, expanding loan repayment programs, and accelerating large-scale transformation through training, technical assistance, pilot projects and shared learning. To read the full report and other related materials, click here.

Promoting wellness, responding to trauma

Our hearts go out to those who’ve been affected by the recent gun violence in San Bernardino. As a Foundation with a commitment to treating violence as a public health issue, we are struck with the sad irony that the recent terror claimed public health workers among its victims. Today, we offer these resources to assist and support people experiencing trauma, and to, work toward the prevention of future tragedies.

For those who wish to offer additional support for the people of San Bernardino, we recommend the Arrowhead United Way Relief Fund, which will direct 100 percent of donations to individuals directly affected by the incident. Preventing violence and the creation of truly healthy, equitable communities is something we can all work towards. For more information, you may wish to review Resources and Lessons Learned on 20-Plus Years of Preventing Violence, or contact us.

Advancing Wellness Blog

The realities of water insecurity in California

Earl LuiReflections by Cal Wellness Program Director Earl Lui

My son Kyle turns 8 in October. For about half of his life, California has experienced severe drought. Kyle knows that water is a precious resource, and he’s learned how to conserve water at home. He starts his shower routine using a bucket to catch the two gallons or so of cold water that comes out of the shower head before the water turns warm enough for him to get in. Once the bucket fills up, we take it outside to water our plants. To read the rest of Lui’s blog, click here.

Applause! Undocumented children to automatically transition to full health coverage

On October 9, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that will ease the transition of 170,000 undocumented children from Medi-Cal’s restricted–scope emergency benefits to full-scope coverage.

Earlier in the year, an allocation of $40 million was approved for health coverage for undocumented children through the Health for All Kids program, effective May 2016, initiated by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. California will be the fifth state to allow undocumented youths from low-income families to enroll in comprehensive health care.

According to the new legislation, families will not need to submit a new application for the full-scope coverage, and children in need of specialty care will be properly evaluated and referred.

“Californians increasingly recognize it is more efficient and effective to offer primary, preventive and specialty care on the front end rather than just expensive emergency and episodic care when it may be too late,” observed Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, and a Cal Wellness grantee. To learn more, visit New America Media.

A Humanitarian CrisisCitizens no longer “marked” by criminal histories: proposition 47 removes barriers to employment and education

On Sept. 27, Cal Wellness grantee Californians for Safety and Justice hosted a large-scale, one-stop fair offering free legal and resource services to anyone seeking to remove old felonies from their records under Proposition 47.

Employment is a strong predictor of good health, but felony records block many hard-working people from providing for themselves and their families. Under Proposition 47, certain felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors, allowing many people with criminal records to access quality employment, student loans and decent housing. More than 5,000 people attended the event in Los Angeles’ Exposition Park to get help changing their records.

Prior to the event, the organization put together a committee of legal service providers from across California who preregistered people at Rap Sheet and Fair Registration events to make the record-change process smoother. Hundreds of people attended the 13 preregistration events across Los Angeles County, where they could also order their criminal history records and bring them to the fair.

Also at the fair were health and social hubs offering free health testing, Medi-Cal enrollment, access to re-entry employers, and voter registration. To learn more and read about other fair highlights, click here.

2015 Cal Wellness-Field Health Policy Survey

Key findings from the 2015 Cal Wellness-Field Health Policy Survey were presented at the state Capitol in Sacramento on August 26 by The Field Poll’s director, Mark DiCamillo. The briefing was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Cal Wellness’ president and CEO, Judy Belk, that included Diana S. Dooley, California secretary of health and human services; Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California; Sarah de Guia, executive director of California Pan-Ethnic Health Network; and Juan Esparza, editor of Vida en el Valle.

Click here to check out our infographic highlighting the 2015 Cal Wellness-Field Health Policy Survey results.

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.

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