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Announcing $10.2 Million in Grants and Program-Related Investments

March 27, 2024—The California Wellness Foundation announced $10.2 million in new grants and investments to address racial health inequities in California. We awarded 26 grants across our four Advancing Wellness portfolios, focusing on closing gaps in Black maternal and infant health, championing Black workers and an equitable economy, and investing in affordable housing in historically marginalized communities.

“These grants represent our ongoing commitment to provide flexible resources to our nonprofit partners working to improve access to healthcare, advance racial justice and ensure all Californians can live healthy and well,” said Richard Tate, Cal Wellness president and CEO.

Eliminating Maternal Health Disparities for Black Women

Black women experience significantly higher levels of pregnancy complications and poor birth outcomes. In 2022, the preterm birth rate among Black women in California was 43 percent higher than among all other women. Black women were three times more likely to die during or immediately after childbirth. Recent data also show that Black women in California were diagnosed with pre-pregnancy hypertension at higher rates than nearly every other racial group, have the highest rates of depressive symptoms in pregnancy, and were more likely to report mistreatment while giving birth at a hospital.

We recently awarded two core operating support grants totaling $800,000 to grassroots organizations that are reducing racial and socioeconomic disparities in healthy birth outcomes for Black women. We've invested significant resources over the past couple decades to move the needle on this racial, economic and reproductive justice challenge and, just last quarter, we awarded $1.2 million to three leading-edge organizations in this field.

This quarter, one of our grantees is Black Wellness and Prosperity Center. They are launching a new doula workforce initiative, creating programming to support cohorts of Black fathers, and training providers to effectively support Black birthing people. They are also developing community education aimed to dismantle social taboos and stigmas around mental health and reproductive care in Fresno County.

While there are many accomplished initiatives and efforts focused on Black birth equity across the state, what has been missing is a unified coalition that can serve as a coordinating body and eventually build transparency and accountability around this issue within California health systems. Our new grantee, California Coalition for Black Birth Justice, is committed to building that vitally important movement.

Visionary Grantees Across Our Funding Priorities

As part of our Community Well-being portfolio, we awarded a $750,000 grant to Advance Peace. Advance Peace is dedicated to ending cyclical and retaliatory gun violence in American urban neighborhoods through their transformational gun violence interruption program—Peacemaker Fellowship. Cal Wellness was an early investor in Advance Peace and supported the replication of the fellowship throughout California. Over the years, we have awarded nearly $1.6 million to the organization.

Violence interruption work like that of Advance Peace is urgently needed considering the continued efforts to walk back Proposition 47. Perceived increases in crime in California have led to a rightward shift in justice policies and attempts to apply more punitive approaches, which are antithetical to health and racial equity.

As part of our Economic Security & Dignity portfolio, we awarded $500,000 each to the Los Angeles Black Worker Center and End Poverty in California. Anti-Black discrimination in hiring and advancement is pervasive. Moreover, Black workers are more likely to face high unemployment at every education level. Our grant will enable LABWC to build power for Black workers by providing comprehensive workforce development, engaging in community organizing efforts, and informing policymakers about issues related to the economic wellbeing of Black workers.

Meanwhile, End Poverty in California will leverage narrative change, power-building, and policy advocacy to sustain and strengthen efforts to eradicate poverty and promote economic inclusion in California. EPIC will elevate the voices of people experiencing poverty, create and implement bold policies rooted in people’s needs, and advance a state agenda focused on equal opportunity for all.

Our $500,000 grant to the California Primary Care Association will allow them to sustain training and technical assistance for community clinics and inform policymakers about the needs of California’s community clinics. Community health centers and community clinics are vital to health equity in our state because they provide a medical home to the most vulnerable populations in California: people of color, the poor, the undocumented, and the uninsured. This grant falls under our Equity in Access portfolio.

The Horizons Foundation received a $405,000 core operating support grant to mobilize and increase resources to the LGBTQ+ movement and organizations. Half of the grant funds will support re-granting to underserved and marginalized LGBTQ+ populations in the Bay Area. Our support comes at a critical time. LGBTQ+ groups are still severely underfunded. In the U.S., just $0.28 for every $100 given by foundations focuses on LGBTQ+ issues. This grant falls under our Leading for Power and Change portfolio.

Cal Wellness continues its legacy of support for leading nonprofits that have the skills to deliver quality services, conduct important research and mobilize communities to advocate for policies that advance health equity. We look forward to deepening our commitment and building new partnerships in 2024 and beyond,” said Lori A. Cox, vice president of programs.

Helping Build Affordable Housing to Revive Struggling Communities

We have been making program-related investments (PRIs) for more than six years. PRIs allow us to make low-cost capital available to charitable or social enterprises that align with our mission. These ongoing investments go to communities of color, particularly those that have been disproportionately impacted by historic disinvestment, unhealthy environments and community violence.

Cal Wellness made a program-related investment of $1.5 million in Little Tokyo Service Center to assist the construction of much needed affordable housing in the Little Tokyo neighborhood in Los Angeles and to help revive the struggling community. LTSC is a multipurpose community development organization committed to improving the lives of people in Little Tokyo and surrounding underserved communities like East Hollywood, Skid Row, East LA, and South LA. Our investment is supplemented with a grant of $300,000 to support delivery of direct services that advance health equity.


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