Grants supported organizations that are transforming the criminal and youth justice systems and reducing racial and socioeconomic disparities in healthy birth outcomes.
Nov. 16, 2023—The California Wellness Foundation today announced $11.5 million in new grants to advance health equity in California. We awarded 43 grants across our four Advancing Wellness portfolios, focusing on preventing and interrupting community and gun violence and improving access to quality pregnancy care for low-income people of color. So far this year, we have awarded $46.4 million in grants.
“These grants reflect our commitment to working at the intersection of health and racial justice in order to advance wellness for all,” said Richard Tate, Cal Wellness’ recently appointed president and CEO. “I’m proud to continue our legacy of partnering with courageous organizations, investing in community-based strategies, and funding leading-edge thinking and practices.”
Prioritizing Violence Prevention, Intervention and Healing
As part of our Community Well-being portfolio, we awarded six core operating support grants totaling $2.3 million to grassroots organizations that are addressing gun and community violence in California using community-led, research-backed approaches.
Our grantees are working on ending overcriminalization and incarceration of youth of color, while prioritizing their healing and positive development. Our long-time grantee partner Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice will provide research, local and statewide policy advocacy, and data-driven analyses to policy makers, movement leaders and stakeholders focused on system-impacted youth. Meanwhile, Flourish Agenda, Inc. will provide healing services to young people most impacted by community violence and incarceration. Our grant will support the expansion of Camp Akili, a transformative personal development and leadership summer camp for youth of color.
Since our inception, we have funded organizations that train and support community-based peacemakers, violence interrupters and independent gang experts. Our investment in community leaders and experts presses on with this round of grants. Our grantee Community Based Public Safety Collective will provide training, technical assistance and capacity building to grassroots, BIPOC-led community violence intervention organizations in Los Angeles. The Health Alliance for Violence Intervention will provide technical assistance to hospital-based violence intervention organizations in our state.
Formerly incarcerated people face tremendous challenges when rebuilding their lives upon their release from incarceration. Unresolved past trauma is one of those challenges. To help them successfully reenter our communities, Just Detention International, Inc will provide healing and trauma-informed services to formerly incarcerated people in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.
Finally, our grantee CFLeads will engage our peers—community foundations in California and across the nation—in policy advocacy, peer learning, data analysis, and capacity building to address gun violence reduction, particularly among communities of color.
Reducing the Racial-Wealth Gap in Maternal Health and Birthing Outcomes
Women of color, and Black women in particular, experience significantly higher levels of pregnancy complications and poor birth outcomes. In 2022, in California, the preterm birth rate among Black women was 43% higher than among all other women. Black women were three times more likely to die during or immediately after childbirth.
With this round of grants, we awarded $1.2 million to support longtime and new community partners who are working at the intersection of racial, economic and reproductive justice. Expecting Justice is a Black-led collaborative that mobilizes leaders from across San Francisco to take action to improve maternal and infant health in Black and Pacific Islander communities. Our $1 million grant will enable them to expand and evaluate their innovative pilot program called Abundant Birth Project to five California counties. The program provides unconditional cash supplements to low-income mothers as a strategy to reduce preterm births. The OB-GYN Department at UCSF in San Francisco will continue operating its successful Pregnancy Pop-Up Village, a monthly pop-up clinic that provides free comprehensive healthcare to predominantly Black birthing people in the Bayview Hunter’s Point neighborhood of San Francisco, one of the city’s most economically disadvantaged communities with the highest concentration of Black residents.
A new grantee for Cal Wellness, Black Women Birthing Justice, will train community members in Oakland with skills to become full-spectrum doula Medi-Cal providers. Doulas play a unique role in health care teams and their work is linked to fewer cessation births and epidurals, shorter labors and increased satisfaction of the birth experience.
“The medical community is listening more closely to the community, and researchers are digging deeper into the factors that may affect healthy birth outcomes for Black women. We’re excited and committed to being a funding partner in this work," said Lori A. Cox, vice president of programs.
Other recent grants awarded by Cal Wellness funded organizations providing culturally competent health services for immigrants and farmworkers, those advocating for public policies that promote equity, and experiments in better coordination of care between systems.