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Op-Ed Articles and Other News Items

February, 2016


Message Of Gun Violence Prevention Summit: We Can Do This!
Thank you to everyone who joined us for #Enough! Stop Violence, Promote Wellness. This groundbreaking summit tackled an issue that is critically important to the health of our communities: gun violence. In contrast to the tragedy and loss that is connected to gun violence, it was heartening to witness so many passionate voices for change.

December, 2015


Enough! Stemming America’s Gun Violence Epidemic
Here in California and across the nation we are reeling from the tragic shooting in San Bernardino. As someone who lost two close family members to gun violence, I know too well the devastation it inflicts on families and communities. I am mourning for the victims and their loved ones.

November, 2015


Don’t Be a Wimp: Why a New Foundation CEO Wants to Be the ‘Influence Lady’
After more than a year as leader of The California Wellness Foundation (Cal Wellness), a nearly billion-dollar philanthropy focused on getting resources to the state’s most vulnerable people, I’ve learned several lessons, both big and small, about money, power, leading with courage, and even how to lose weight without dieting.

August, 2015


Memories of a Thirsty Childhood
Drought-shaming could become a popular pastime in California's driest summer. Egregious water wasters, especially the ones with massive lawns and high public profiles, are getting called out by reporters and humbled on social media.

June, 2015


Persevering in the Face of Charleston Tragedy
I’ve spent the past week mourning the loss of nine lives in Charleston, South Carolina, last Wednesday and trying to grapple with the horrific nature of this act, carried out in a place of worship that has been central to the struggles of the black community there.

June, 2015


Fostering Youth’s Resiliency for California’s Future
I am writing this having recently returned from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I joined 13 members of my rowdy extended family who gathered from across the country to celebrate with my son, Ryan, who received his doctorate in history.

February, 2015


Honoring California’s Health Leaders
I’ve noticed more and more efforts within the nonprofit community to recognize, refresh and develop its leaders. These include recognition events honoring nonprofit executives; programs to develop the next generation of leadership; and respite programs to refresh nonprofit chief executives.

November, 2014


Near Ferguson, a Struggle That Begins Before Kindergarten
While the nation was focused on Ferguson, Mo., this summer, my attention was on a St. Louis kindergarten classroom not far from where Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer.

November, 2014


Health Shouldn’t Be Based On Where You Live
Strand by strand, my younger sister has been pulling the threads of her life back together after a couple of lost decades.

November, 2014


Our Evolution to Advancing Wellness
I see stories everywhere. In this year’s Cal Wellness Annual Report, we have tried to capture the story of our work with the cover essay, “Wellness Evolution: Experience Ignites a New Grantmaking Chapter.” In it, we demonstrate how the Foundation’s legacy provides a springboard for our transition to the Advancing Wellness era and its theme of promoting equity through advocacy and access.

November, 2014


Making Investment a Criminal Justice Strategy
Judy Belk joined ten other California foundation CEOs in signing a joint statement in support of the passage of Proposition 47, The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.

October, 2014


A Postcard from California: Cal Wellness Foundation President on the ACA and the Foundation’s New Grants Program
A few short months after I took the helm as The California Wellness Foundation’s president and CEO, the results of our eighth annual Cal Wellness/Field Health Policy Survey were released. I dug into the results to get a view of what Californians are thinking and feeling about the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) implementation in our state.

October, 2014


Welcome to Wellness
I am pleased to announce that Advancing Wellness is here! We are now accepting letters of interest for the next phase of our grants program, which promotes equity through advocacy and access. On behalf of the Board and staff of Cal Wellness, thank you for your patience.

August, 2014


Late Summer Reflections
It’s hard to believe summer is nearly behind us. Everyone at Cal Wellness has been working hard to prepare for the launch of the next phase of our grants program. Over the past few weeks, I’ve also been hitting the road more and have had the pleasure of meeting many of you — grantees, community leaders, policymakers and fellow funders.

June, 2014


Reflections and a Look Toward the Horizon
While I’ve been on the job only a few weeks, I’m already bursting with pride as I get a better sense of the amazing work our trustees, staff and community partners are accomplishing each day to improve the lives of all Californians.

March, 2013


Lessons Learned in Preventing Violence Against Youth
While the impetus for recent public debate on gun-related deaths emerged from December’s tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., it is important to note that deadly gun violence targeting children and youth is a daily occurrence in this country – including California.

December, 2012


Statement on the Newtown Tragedy
The gut-wrenching violence in Connecticut has captured the attention of the nation. As we mourn the loss of life, many are asking what can be done to prevent future tragedies?

November, 2012


Looking Ahead
The California Wellness Foundation has reached an important crossroads as an institution. With our current cycle of grantmaking scheduled to sunset in 2014, the Foundation's Board has embarked upon a strategic planning process to determine how we can best marshal our resources to advance our mission.

July, 2012


A Passion for Wellness
It is a pleasure to be the new leader of The California Wellness Foundation. As we move forward with our mission of improving the health of the people of California, I would like to share some thoughts about "wellness" and what has drawn me to this work.

December, 2011


A Report on Our Grantmaking
Over the past several years, there has been substantial discussion in the philanthropic community about the amount of foundation funding reaching underserved and marginalized populations. Conversations with several of our colleagues led to the release of a report in December 2008 in which we recognized the critical role played by small, community-based nonprofit organizations in addressing the challenges facing minority and other predominantly low-income communities in California.

July, 2011


When The Time Is Right
As many of you know, I've announced my intention to retire at the end of the year. One of the first questions I'm asked about my retirement is, "Why now?" There's a country song I like titled "Timing Is Everything." While it may not be "everything," timing is certainly important when considering a leadership change. The timing of this transition is right for The California Wellness Foundation, for me and for my family.

May, 2011


Honoring Veterans through Philanthropy
Each year in late May, America pauses to honor its veterans. We recognize the sacrifices of those President Lincoln observed “gave the last full measure of devotion” in service to their country as well as those who currently protect and defend our nation.

March, 2011


A Prevention Success Story
In 1992, when The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF) began developing a grantmaking program that would address teen pregnancy prevention, more than 70,000 California teens gave birth. It was cause for concern. For decades, California’s teen pregnancy rates had ranked among the highest in the nation.

December, 2010


A Report on Our Grantmaking
Over the past several years, there has been substantial discussion in the philanthropic community about the amount of foundation funding reaching underserved and marginalized populations. Conversations with several of our colleagues led to the release of a statement in June 2008 in which we recognized the critical role played by small, community-based nonprofit organizations in addressing the challenges facing minority and other predominately low-income communities in California.

November, 2010


A Challenging Environment for California Grantmakers
Without a doubt, the environment for California grantmakers remains challenging as 2010 draws to a close, with the sluggish pace of economic recovery weighing heavily on the communities we support. For many foundations, the values of our endowments may have stabilized, but it will likely be several more years – at the earliest – before our grantmaking returns to the levels of 2006 or 2007.

August, 2010


The Health Care Safety Net and Health Reform
The “Great Recession” that has severely impacted the global economy continues to have a solid grip on California. While measurements of economic growth show signs of modest gains in the national economy, this news comes as small comfort to many Californians, where unemployment remains above 12 percent statewide – and as high as 27 percent in rural areas such as Imperial County.

December, 2009


A Report on Our Grantmaking
Over the past two years, there has been substantial discussion in the philanthropic community about the amount of foundation funding reaching underserved and marginalized populations. Conversations with several of our colleagues led to the release of a statement in June 2008 in which we recognized the critical role played by small, community-based nonprofit organizations in addressing the challenges facing minority and other predominately low-income communities in California.

October, 2009


Staying True to Our Mission and Operating Principles Has Resulted in Foundation Diversity
A recent study by a nonprofit advocacy organization indicated that, among large foundations, The California Wellness Foundation has one of the most diverse boards with regard to ethnicity (70 percent) and gender (50 percent). But this wasn’t always the case.

June, 2009


A Strategy for Tough Times: Increasing Core Support To Help Nonprofits Survive
Imagine being the executive director of a community-based nonprofit with a $6.5 million annual budget that operates a health clinic, a food bank, and a jobs program. Before the economy soured, your organization served 400,000 clients annually. At the end of 2008, the number spiked to 475,000, yet your organization experienced reduced donations, grants and government funding, barely reaching $5 million.

May, 2009


A Grantmaking Foundation and a Service Organization
The concept of public service has always been important to me. I was a junior in high school in 1961 when John Kennedy gave his inaugural speech and I completely embraced his challenge: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

December, 2008


Strengthening Nonprofit Minority Leadership and the Capacity of Minority-Led and Other Grassroots Community-Based Organizations
A California-based group known as the Foundation Coalition issued a statement that announced new grantmaking activities to fund minority-led and other small, grassroots nonprofits reaching underserved populations. Included here is a cover letter and the report. The Foundation Coalition disbanded after its work concluded with the release of this report on December 22, 2008.

August, 2008


Setting The Record Straight About Our Grantmaking
You may have heard about the recent agreement announced by 10 California foundations including The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF). The agreement, which includes a list of the participating funders, calls for the development of new grantmaking efforts by either individual foundations or collective efforts by some or all of the 10 foundations to focus on capacity building and leadership development for small, grassroots community-based organizations that primarily serve ethnic minority populations.

April, 2008


Gun Violence; The Endemic Epidemic
The Valentine’s Day shooting at Northern Illinois University outside Chicago that killed five and injured 14 is only the latest mass shooting in a two-week outbreak of gun violence across the nation.

April, 2007


Eradicating the Gang Violence Plague: It Takes a Village
The recent drug-related arrest of a well-respected director of the job development program at Communities In Schools of the San Fernando Valley (CIS SFV) caused many observers to ask whether it’s really worth investing in organizations that hire former gang members to help at-risk youth turn away from gangs, finish high school and find decent jobs

March, 2007


Re: Schwarzenegger Calls for Coordinated Attack on Gangs, March 6
Although the police and criminal courts are an important component of any overall gang violence reduction strategy, their response has largely been reactive rather than preventive, making the associate costs exorbitant.

September, 2006


Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Programs Save Tax Dollars
Over the past decade, the teen birthrate in California dropped by more than 46 percent — the steepest decline of any state in the country. In the East Bay, the trend is also heartening. According to a recent Public Health Institute report, the teen pregnancy rate in Oakland decreased by 50 percent between 1991 and 2004.

October, 2005


Violence Prevention Programs Save Lives
This op-ed appeared Oct. 28, 2005, on the opinion page of La Opinión, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States. This is a translation of the original article, which was published in Spanish.

January, 2004


Stay Course on Gang Prevention Funding
In Sacramento, it's difficult to support expenditures that might reduce crime and prison costs in years to come, when voters are clamoring for action now. However, missing from this picture is the proven effectiveness of public health strategies to eradicate the breeding grounds of crime.


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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