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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:

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 will 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 as well as the built environment.  We will help organizations build their effectiveness and support organizing, civic engagement, and public policy advocacy efforts to drive change. Given the importance of parks and green spaces to community health, we will support efforts to create well-designed parks that benefit physical and mental well-being.

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Children in park with sunset
Learn More Reflections on Equity from Coachella

Read about how our grantmaking is supporting vital parks in Earl Lui's blog “Reflections on Equity from Coachella.”

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 will 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.

Youth justice.  Currently, the youth justice system over-criminalizes and incarcerates Black and Latino youth, causing them immense harm. We seek to support organizations that will take apart this punitive system and replace it with a system that that prioritizes youth and community development.

We want to see a youth justice system that cares about young people of color and allows them to thrive. People-of-color-led community-based organizations working for youth justice are already working toward this vision. But 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.

Alex Johnson
PROGRAM DIRECTOR Alex M. Johnson

Alex M. Johnson is a program director at The California Wellness Foundation, where he manages a grantmaking portfolio focused on community environments, violence prevention and healing justice, and youth justice.

Jamie Schenker image
PROGRAM OFFICER Jamie N. Schenker

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

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