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Op-Ed Archive

A Report on Our Grantmaking

December 2011

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. 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. This letter constitutes our final report on the grantmaking of The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF or Foundation) on this issue.

The mission of the 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 Grants Reach Underserved Communities

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 (for example, Fathers and Families of San Joaquin) to more than $10 million (for example, Bill Wilson Center). We make multiyear grants of up to three years. Currently, there are 812 active grants totaling $120 million, 78 percent of which are to organizations that primarily serve ethnic minority populations and 52 percent are to organizations with operating budgets of less than $2 million.

Building Organizational Capacity & Leadership

Examples of TCWF grants made since December 2008 that address capacity building and technical assistance include a $250,000, three-year grant to Hispanics In Philanthropy (HIP) and two grants for a total of $1.5 million over a total of four years to the Liberty Hill Foundation. 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 grants to Liberty Hill are to provide capacity-building grants to small grassroots, minority-led nonprofits in Los Angeles County. These grants were funded in partnership with the Weingart Foundation, which also provided two grants totaling $1.5 million bringing the total for this program to $3 million. According to an independent evaluation by Harder+Co., during the first two years of the program, Liberty Hill provided $1.5 million of these funds in grants to a total of 42 small grassroots nonprofits for a number of capacity-building activities.

Examples of grants awarded that address leadership development activities include two grants for a total of $475,000 over four years to CompassPoint in San Francisco and a $200,000, two-year grant to the Southern California Center (the Center) for Nonprofit Management in Los Angeles. The grants to CompassPoint are for the Leadership Program for Next Generation Leaders of Color, a program in the San Francisco Bay Area that provides leadership development training for 36 ethnic minority individuals from nonprofit health and human service organizations. The grant to the Center is for the Nonprofit Leadership Development Program to develop skills for 25 leaders of color to run nonprofit health and human service organizations in the Southern California region.

Health Reform in California

As announced previously, TCWF has decided to prioritize three areas of funding with regard to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): 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) 132 grants totaling $20.5 million for the health care safety net; 2) 43 grants totaling $6.4 million for increasing the health care workforce and its diversity; and 3) Five grants totaling $1.1 million for advocacy and public policy efforts. These policy grants include: 1) 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; 2) 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; 3) a $175,000, three-year grant for the Greenlining Institute to develop and implement a statewide campaign to ensure the needs of communities of color are addressed in the implementation of the ACA; 4) a $125,000, three-year grant for the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California to inform policymakers and opinion leaders about the need for a health workforce that reflects the state's racial and ethnic diversity; and 5) a $60,000, six-month grant for the UCSF Center for the Health Professions to publish and disseminate a report on the health care workforce and the ACA.

Looking Ahead

TCWF is one of California's largest private foundations and a major funder of nonprofit organizations that provide both 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 2012, we will continue our Responsive Grantmaking Program and make an estimated $35 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

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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