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. While each of our foundations was already providing significant funding to address these issues, we agreed more could be done in two areas: 1) capacity-building support and technical assistance targeted to minority-led and grassroots community-based organizations that primarily serve minority and low-income communities; and 2) leadership development activities that could develop a diverse pipeline of executives, staff and board members for the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. We also agreed to report publicly on an annual basis as we worked to address these issues. This letter constitutes our report for 2010.
The mission of The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF or Foundation) is to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, disease prevention and wellness education. The Foundation has a Responsive Grantmaking Program with eight health issues that are prioritized for funding: diversity in the health professions, environmental health, healthy aging, mental health, teen pregnancy prevention, violence prevention, women’s health and work and health. It also has a special projects fund to respond to other health issues. We prioritize funding for underserved populations including low-income individuals, people of color, youth and residents of rural areas. The majority of our funding is for general operating support.
TCWF funds in all regions of the state, with grant dollars somewhat proportional to the population in each region. All grants are health-related, and annual operating budgets of organizations funded range from less than $200,000 (Black Women for Wellness) to more than $10 million (South Bay Family Healthcare Center). We make multiyear grants of up to three years. Currently, there are 905 active grants totaling $152 million, 73 percent of which are to organizations that primarily serve ethnic minority populations and 54 percent are to organizations with operating budgets of less than $2 million.
Examples of recent TCWF grants that address capacity building and technical assistance include a $250,000, three-year grant to Hispanics In Philanthropy (HIP) in 2009 and a $500,000, two-year grant to the Liberty Hill Foundation in 2010. The grant to HIP is to provide capacity-building grants, convenings and technical assistance to Latino-led, Latino-serving nonprofit health organizations throughout California. The grant to Liberty Hill builds on a previous grant of $1 million for a regranting pilot project to provide capacity-building grants to small grassroots, minority-led nonprofits in Los Angeles County. The grant was funded in partnership with the Weingart Foundation, which also provided a $1 million grant for this pilot program. During the pilot project, Liberty Hill made $1.2 million in grants to a total of 54 small grassroots nonprofits. This new TCWF grant will continue this program and will again be conducted in partnership with the Weingart Foundation, which is also providing $500,000 over two years.
Examples of grants awarded in 2010 that address leadership development activities include a $275,000 grant to CompassPoint in San Francisco and a $200,000 grant to the Southern California Center (the Center) for Nonprofit Management in Los Angeles. The grant to CompassPoint is to continue the Leadership Program for Next Generation Leaders of Color, a program in the San Francisco Bay Area that has provided leadership development training for 16 ethnic minority individuals from nonprofit health and human service organizations over the past two years. The grant to the Center is for the Nonprofit Leadership Development Program to continue a program that develops skills of leaders of color to run nonprofit health and human service organizations in the Southern California region.
TCWF has decided to prioritize three areas of funding with regard to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: 1) sustaining the health care safety net; 2) increasing the health care workforce and its diversity; and 3) supporting advocacy and public policy efforts to inform underserved populations, policymakers and opinion leaders about the new law. Since the Act was signed into law in March 2010, TCWF has made: 1) 68 grants totaling $10.8 million for the health care safety net; 2) 25 grants totaling $3.8 million for increasing the health care workforce and its diversity; 3) a $500,000, three-year grant to the Health Access Foundation for a collaborative effort with Consumer’s Union, California Pan Ethnic Health Network and Western Center on Law and Poverty to ensure the greatest number of Californians receive the coverage and care they need under the new law; and 4) a $260,000, two-year grant to the Field Research Corporation to conduct public opinion polls in 2011 and 2012 to assess attitudes and understanding of health care reform over time.
TCWF is one of California’s largest private foundations and a major funder of nonprofit organizations that both provide health services in communities of color and work to build the capacity of community members to engage in the political process to improve the health of their communities. In 2011, we will continue our Responsive Grantmaking Program and make an estimated $38 million in new grants. The majority of these grants will again be for core operating support and capacity building to nonprofits that serve primarily ethnic minority populations. We employ an open application process, accepting one-page letters of interest throughout the year. Any nonprofit in California may apply at any time. The process for receiving a grant usually takes about six months.
We look forward to continuing our work with the nonprofit community to improve the health of the people of California.
Gary L. Yates
President and CEO
The California Wellness Foundation