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Announcing $10.7 Million in Grants for Black Equity & Health Policy Advocacy

Grants support visionary Black-led and Black-empowering organizations as well as statewide nonprofits with a distinguished track record of working at the intersection of public policy, health equity and racial justice.

Photo credit: Destination Crenshaw

December 16, 2020—The California Wellness Foundation today announced $10.7 million in grants to advance health equity in California, support the movement and momentum for Black lives and racial justice, and invest in statewide public policy advocacy as a vital strategy to achieve long-lasting social change. Grants will support organizations addressing barriers to health and wellness in historically underinvested communities, including people of color, formerly incarcerated and homeless people, immigrants, women and people with disabilities.

“2020 has been a tough year. The events of 2020 have upended our lives and broken our hearts. But these same events have forced us to question our assumptions, focus on our priorities, and rethink how we do our work,” said Judy Belk, Cal Wellness president and CEO. “We are grateful to be in partnership with our grantees, who, despite unprecedented hardship lead the way by responding to limitations with innovation, and demonstrating unwavering commitment in the fight for racial justice and health equity.”

Supporting Black Communities and Black-Led Solutions

While all communities of color are experiencing health inequities, Black communities are uniquely and disproportionately impacted by racism, poverty, police violence, a history of disinvestment and COVID-19. As a result, we committed $2.75 million to support strategies ranging from leadership development and research to community engagement, policy advocacy and power building in Black communities.

Our grant to Movement for Black Lives will support the continued implementation of the movement’s vision in California. M4BL will work with its California chapters to strengthen Black-led and Black-serving organizations that are challenging racial inequities in policing. The California Black Freedom Fund will build a strong network of Black leaders and institutions in California dedicated to reversing damage and trauma in Black communities while promoting a future filled with promise and justice. The UCLA Labor Center will help start and support two centers for Black workers in the Inland Empire and San Diego. These centers will provide training, job placement, counseling and leadership development to support Black workers in finding and retaining good jobs and building wealth. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies will support research on Black Californians to document how Black Americans are faring in the current economic, health and social environment, data that is crucial for advocates, providers and policymakers.

Finally, Destination Crenshaw—a community-led placekeeping project in South Los Angeles—will establish a hub that honors and celebrates Black culture and activism. Destination Crenshaw will be a 1.3-mile outdoor experience with various community gathering venues and over 100 public artworks by Black artists, four acres of open space and 800 newly planted trees. It will transform South Los Angeles’s built environment, help stimulate economic activity for entrepreneurs and small businesses, and create opportunities for residents to come together. This project is a trailblazing public-private partnership between philanthropy, business and government, that we believe will serve as a beacon for future collaborations and partnerships.

“South LA is the last stop in the Great Migration of Black people from the Jim Crow South. It is a home to the largest Black community west of the Mississippi,” said Arnold X.C. Perkins, Cal Wellness board member. “This project is called Destination Crenshaw because we have arrived. We are home. Here we belong. This economic, political and cultural space will serve as a living museum of Black experience. In addition to honoring our past and our present, it allows us to imagine and create a healthier, thriving future.”

Doubling Down on Investments in Statewide Policy Advocacy

Disparities in health persist because of racist policies. To achieve health equity, we must challenge racist policies and champion anti-racist policies that ensure that all communities can thrive. Three of our long-time grantees are invaluable statewide advocacy organizations that are critical to advancing our mission and essential to building the movement for health equity and racial justice in our state.

Therefore, we awarded these three organizations larger and longer-term grants—ranging from $1 to $1.5 million over five years. The grants both acknowledge and honor their vital contributions as well as provide them with greater financial security so that they may continue to be innovative, confident, and unwavering in their work.

California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, supported by our grant, will continue to advance health equity by changing health policy, convening communities of color to inform action, collecting race and ethnicity data to track progress, and working with coalitions to advance an inclusive movement for health and wellness. A crucial player in civic engagement, Power California is the only statewide organization building leadership of Black, Latino, Asian American Pacific Islander and Native youth. Our grant will enable them to continue to cultivate, train and empower the next generation of community organizers and movement leaders to advance health equity. Finally, Advancement Project works at the forefront of racial equity policy work. Our grant will enable them to continue to engage in policy advocacy that addresses racial inequities, to conduct research and data analysis, and to lead power-building efforts in partnership with communities of color.

“We are excited to double down on our investments in these three indispensable statewide advocacy organizations,” said Fatima Angeles, Cal Wellness vice president of programs. “As organizations, regional and local coalitions, they connect our communities to our state policymakers. They conduct research we all need to understand and co-create solutions to health inequity. And they are helping to build power in our communities of color. Their work is vital to all of us. When they are strong, all of us become stronger.”

About The California Wellness Foundation

The California Wellness Foundation’s mission is to protect and improve the health and wellness of the people of California by increasing access to health care, quality education, good jobs, healthy environments and safe neighborhoods. Since its founding in 1992, Cal Wellness has awarded more than $1 billion in charitable contributions and 9,200 grants.

See the July-December 2020 list of grants.
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