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Community Well-being

We all want to live in safe and healthy communities. Yet too often, laws, policies and lack of investment  deprive communities of the resources they need to thrive. The negative effects of this disinvestment are easily seen. But the processes, systems, and thinking behind the disinvestment are too often hidden.

As a result, communities of color disproportionately suffer from structural inequities in environmental justice, community violence, gun violence, and youth incarceration. These are just a few of the important areas that affect the health of individuals and communities.

Communities know what they need. When we listen to people in communities who have been most affected by historical neglect and racial injustice, our job is made clear.

Our Community Well-being portfolio will provide resources that support the health, safety and resilience of communities of color, especially those that have been disproportionately affected by unhealthy environments and community violence.

This is our work:


Violence Prevention and Healing Justice

Everyone’s safety and wellness are diminished when any part of our community experiences violence. We envision communities experiencing less gun violence, decreases in community trauma, and higher levels of safety and resilience. We will support programs, resources, and organizations that work to reduce gun violence; support interventionists and violence interrupters; reduce trauma and promote healing justice; and challenge racially-charged policing tactics.

Gun violence, in particular, traumatizes entire communities and disproportionately harms people of color. As we have since 1992, we support gun violence prevention through investing in research, policy advocacy, and innovative models addressing gun violence prevention.

We approach our work informed and inspired by healing justice, recognizing that healing must be rooted in the culture and beliefs of the community, and respectful of both the individual’s and the community’s need to reconcile the harm that’s been done.

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What We Fund

  • Policy advocacy, community organizing, research, narrative change efforts centered on communities of color that address everyday gun violence as a preventable public health and equity issue.
  • Organizations, particularly Black and Latino led, working to reduce community violence and gun violence through community-based violence intervention, hospital-based violence intervention, and other efforts to comprehensively treat the cycle of violence, build capacity, and improve service delivery.
  • Efforts that support communities of color disproportionately impacted by police brutality and structural racism, to actively engage in public policy advocacy, community organizing, and research that transforms the current system of policing and reimagines models of community safety.
  • Efforts that support healing and well-being of individuals and communities most impacted by trauma and community violence, particularly of communities of color.

What We Don't Fund

  • Boys and Girls Clubs
  • Domestic violence prevention
  • Child abuse prevention.
  • Sex trafficking prevention.
  • Re-entry programs and those solely focused on providing services inside prisons, jails or other detention facilities.
  • School-based programs.
  • Mentoring or youth development programs without a clear connection to systems change in the youth justice system.
  • Healing and well-being programs that do not have a clear strategy around addressing the impacts of trauma and community violence, particularly among communities of color.
  • Standalone conferences.
  • Individual fellowships or research projects.

Grantee Organizations We've Funded

Take a look at these grantee organizations to get a better sense of what we fund.

Advance Peace - $425,000/3 years

For core operating support for the Advance Peace, Peacemaker Fellowship in Sacramento, Stockton, and Fresno to support COVID-19 response efforts and to further efforts to reduce and prevent gun violence in the highest-need communities.

CF Leads - $250,000/3 years

For project support to engage community foundations, in targeted California regions and across the nation, in peer learning, data analysis, and capacity building to address gun violence reduction, particularly among communities of color.

Community Justice Reform Coalition - $250,000/3 years

For core support to engage in policy advocacy and organizing to advance gun violence prevention efforts in California.

The Guardian - $300,000/3 years

For project support for Turnaround Cities, a community-based reporting project focused on breaking cycles of gun violence in the Bay Area region of California.

Health Alliance for Violence Intervention - $300,000/3 years

For core operating support of The Health Alliance for Violence Intervention to build the capacity of hospital-based violence intervention programs in California as a means of preventing community violence and healing trauma.

Black Organizing Project - $250,000/3 years

For core support to advance racial justice and improve health outcomes in Oakland and the Bay Area through policy advocacy and community organizing efforts that address systemic racial inequities in policing.

Flourish Agenda - $250,000/2 years

For project support to build capacity among youth-serving organizations in California to address trauma reduction through healing-centered approaches.


Youth Justice

The youth justice system over-criminalizes and incarcerates Black and Latino youth, causing them immense harm. We support community-based organizations led by people of color that work toward taking apart this punitive system and replacing it with a system that that prioritizes youth and community development.

To succeed, these organizations must be strong, resilient and powerful. In addition, more young women and girls of color are entering the justice system. Therefore, now more than ever, we need gender-responsive strategies to transform the youth justice system.

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What We Fund

  • Public policy and advocacy efforts that advance transformation of the youth justice system by either:
    • Addressing the overreliance on harmful punitive systems
    • Demanding accountability and strengthened oversight of the youth justice system, or 
    • Promoting the need to shift toward a system that prioritizes youth development.
  • Youth-led community organizing and leadership development efforts that:
    • Increase understanding, support, and demand for youth justice systems transformation; and 
    • Support skill-building, particularly for justice-involved youth, that focuses on community organizing and policy analysis.
  • Communications and narrative change efforts that support consistent reporting that frames youth who have been involved in the justice system as young people who deserve compassion, fairness, redemption, dignity, and greater investment.
  • Research projects that support youth-led, community-based participatory research.
  • Projects that strategically align impact litigation with parallel community organizing, policy advocacy, and research efforts to advance youth justice system transformation.

What We Don't Fund

  • Boys and Girls Clubs
  • Domestic violence prevention
  • Child abuse prevention.
  • Sex trafficking prevention.
  • Mentoring and after-school programs
  • Youth development programs without a clear connection to systems change in the youth justice system.
  • Standalone conferences.

Grantee Organizations We've Funded

Take a look at these grantee organizations to get a better sense of what we fund.

Center for Young Women's Development
$275,000/3 years

For core operating support to strengthen research, policy advocacy, and organizing efforts to improve the health and wellness of girls of color in California by disrupting violence and promoting healing.

Vera Institute of Justice
$250,000/3 years

For core operating support for the Initiative to End Girls Incarceration in Santa Clara County to improve the health and wellness of girls of color by disrupting violence and promoting healing.

Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
$300,000/3 years

For core operating support to continue research, local and statewide policy advocacy, and public education to advance violence prevention and youth justice system transformation in California.

Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice
$350,000/3 years

For core operating support to advance policing reform and youth justice system transformation in Alameda County through youth organizing and leadership development, policy advocacy, and healing-centered prevention programs.

W. Haywood Burns Institute
$125,000/1 year

For project support to provide technical assistance to the Los Angeles County Youth Justice Working Group efforts to study, propose, and reimagine a replacement of the juvenile probation system in Los Angeles County.


Community Environments

We have long been committed to investing in healthy and safe communities, because individual wellness is dependent upon communities being economically and environmentally vital, socially connected, and civically engaged.

We support communities of color to actively engage and build power over the environmental policies and conditions that affect the places in which they live, work and play – paying particular attention to issues impacting water and air, and the built environment.  Given the importance of parks and green spaces to community health, we also support efforts to create well-designed parks that benefit physical and mental well-being. We support organizations to build their effectiveness and support organizing, civic engagement, and public policy advocacy efforts to drive change.

More Information

What We Fund

  • Public policy and advocacy efforts that prioritize:
    • Equitable outcomes around healthy land use and the built environment
    • Equitable access to parks and other open spaces in park-poor communities
    • Increased access to safe and affordable drinking water
    • Reducing the impacts of air pollution
  • Efforts to increase the power of communities of color over environmental policies and conditions, specifically access to water and reducing the impacts of air pollution, that impact the places in which they live, work, and play, including community organizing, leadership development, technical assistance and training efforts to increase decision-making power.
  • Community-led and community-driven civic engagement efforts that support the creation of new or improved parks and open spaces in underserved communities.

What We Don't Fund

  • Physical activity or recreational activities for adults or youth (such as a YMCA) 
  • Food banks or food distribution activities, including those for seniors or persons living with chronic or debilitating diseases 
  • Nutrition, healthy-eating and active-living education programs 
  • Obesity and diabetes prevention education 
  • Asthma prevention and education programs 
  • Organizations working to build or advocate for more affordable housing, or to improve the quality of substandard housing 
  • Transportation issues (transit justice, bicycling and pedestrian issues, etc.) 
  • Stand-alone conferences 
  • Individual degrees

Grantee Organizations We've Funded

Take a look at these grantee organizations to get a better sense of what we fund.

Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice
$225,000/3 years

For core operating support to sustain environmental justice community organizing, leadership training, and public policy efforts to create healthier communities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties and build organizational capacity.

Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust
$250,000/3 years

For core operating support to sustain community organizing, leadership development, and public policy efforts to address the lack of parks and open space to improve the health of residents in underserved neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

Kounkuey Design Initiative, Inc.
$650,000/3 years

For core operating support to provide outreach, education, and technical assistance to underserved cities in California seeking funding for neighborhood parks to improve health outcomes.

Public Rights Project
$180,000/3 years

For core support of Public Rights Project to promote health equity and build capacity to advocate for improved environmental policies, conditions, and climate change mitigation within the Yurok Tribe community in rural California.

Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability
$150,000/3 year

For core operating support to sustain public policy efforts to create healthier communities in the San Joaquin and Eastern Coachella valleys.


Our Community Well-being portfolio will provide resources that support the health, safety and resilience of communities of color, especially those that have been disproportionately affected by unhealthy environments and community violence. Watch the above video to learn more.
Cal Wellness Issues in the News

Each week, we collect news relating to each of our four portfolios. Read on to learn more.

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INTERIM PROGRAM DIRECTOR Jamie N. Schenker

Jamie N. Schenker is interim program director for Cal Wellness’ Community Well-being portfolio. She brings over 15 years’ experience in grantmaking, evaluation and organizational learning.

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