In 2015, the first full year of our Advancing Wellness grants program, Cal Wellness proudly supported organizations in communities across California. The Foundation made 199 grants totaling $32.2 million for the year. Of that total, $23 million was for core operating support, and $17.2 million went to organizations led by people of color. We reached 83 percent of California’s counties — from large cities to remote, rural locations — and 54 percent of our grants were responsive in nature.
Access to quality health care. Our grantees helped ensure effective implementation of the Affordable Care Act and other related health reforms in California through outreach and enrollment to immigrant families, young adults, low-income communities, the formerly incarcerated and others. These efforts had real impact: the percentage of uninsured Californians fell to 8.1 percent by the end of 2015. In addition, community clinics and other safety-net providers used Cal Wellness’ funding to boost their capacity to meet increased demand with a robust and diverse health workforce.
In 2015, news headlines were, and continue to be, dominated by violence. Cal Wellness has been at the forefront of violence prevention for more than 20 years, but we saw an opportunity to draw in new partners to help end gun violence in California. We reached out to community organizations, policymakers, philanthropic colleagues and others to join us at our Enough! Summit to spotlight gun violence prevention efforts, including research, advocacy and a variety of prevention programs. We also funded proven solutions alongside brand new collaborations, laying the groundwork for Hope and Heal: The Fund to Stop Gun Violence in California. Today Hope and Heal is engaging a variety of donors to pool resources and increase our collective impact on gun violence by working together.
Quality jobs and a living wage are essential to health and wellness. Our grantees completed research and advocacy in 2015 that helped lead to an increase in California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour; provided job training, financial literacy education and job placement services in underserved communities; and supported small businesses and social enterprises. After the passage of Proposition 47, we also funded organizations that helped eligible individuals change their felonies to misdemeanors. These record changes removed barriers to housing and employment that had kept people trapped in poverty. Something as simple as a label change resulted in big opportunities for brighter futures.
Cal Wellness is one of the few funders in California making grants for oral health care focused solely on adults. As developed our Advancing Wellness grants program, we discovered this unmet need, yet we know that oral health is integral to a person’s overall health and well-being. To address this gap, we helped community clinics add dental operatories and dental staff, and we invested in clinics that were partnering with volunteer dentists. We also looked into several unique approaches for improving access to care, such as teledentistry to serve high-need dental clients outside of a clinic or dental office.
The Foundation’s Advancing Wellness grants program is designed to promote equity through advocacy and access. The grantmaking focuses on three interconnected portfolios: Bridging the Gaps in Access and Quality Care; Promoting Healthy and Safe Neighborhoods; and Expanding Education and Employment Pathways. The program also includes the Opportunity Fund to support innovation in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.