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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. 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 2009.

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 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 (Latino Health Collaborative) to $10 million (Health Professions Education Foundation). We make multiyear grants of up to three years. Currently, there are 994 active grants totaling $172 million. Seventy-one percent of these grants are to organizations that primarily serve ethnic minority populations and 58 percent are to organizations with operating budgets of less than $2 million.


Building Organizational Capacity & Leadership

Examples of recent grants that address capacity building and technical assistance include a $250,000, three-year grant to Hispanics In Philanthropy (HIP) and a $1 million, two-year grant 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 grant to Liberty Hill is for a regranting pilot project to provide capacity-building grants to small grassroots, minority led nonprofits in Los Angeles County. The grant is funded in partnership with the Weingart Foundation, which is also providing a $1 million, two-year grant for this pilot program. Therefore, the total amount for the pilot program is $2 million. In addition, a $130,000 grant has been made to Harder+Company to evaluate this project.

Examples of recent grants that address leadership development activities include a $200,000, two-year grant 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 grant to CompassPoint is to create the Leadership Program for Next Generation Leaders of Color, a pilot program in the San Francisco Bay Area that is providing leadership development training for 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 of leaders of color to run nonprofit health and human service organizations in the Southern California region.

We have also provided a $35,000, one-year grant to Southern California Grantmakers to inform policymakers about the work of philanthropy and engage funders on the issue of increasing diversity in philanthropy, and a $150,000, two-year grant to the Council On Foundations to develop and implement educational programming on ethnic and racial diversity and inclusiveness for foundations in California.

Looking Ahead

TCWF is one of California’s largest private foundations and a major funder of nonprofit organizations providing both health services in communities of color and working to build the capacity of community members to engage in the political process to improve the health of their communities. In 2010, we will continue our Responsive Grantmaking Program and make an estimated $45 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

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