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Announcing $16.7 Million in Grants and Impact Investments

Grants supported organizations reimagining the future of low-wage work, community clinics providing health care to the most vulnerable people in our state, and nonprofits prioritizing historically underinvested communities in their emergency relief and disaster preparation.

May 24, 2023—The California Wellness Foundation today announced $16.7 million in grants and impact investments to advance health equity in California. We awarded a total of 88 grants across our four Advancing Wellness portfolios, focusing on improving access to quality health care for all, creating workplaces that pay the living wage and support working families, and both responding to and preparing for natural disasters and emergencies.

“Many California families already struggle to make ends meet. A recent series of natural disasters has further jeopardized these families’ ability to recover their homes and their incomes,” said Judy Belk, Cal Wellness president and CEO. “Our grants are intended to help these communities go beyond just surviving a disaster.”

Preparing for Future Emergencies and Disasters

The COVID-19 pandemic and last year's fires made it clear that some communities are a lot more vulnerable to environmental disasters and pandemics. It also showed that those same historically underinvested and disenfranchised communities are much less likely to receive adequate government relief funds to recover once the crisis is over.

We awarded seven grants totaling $700,000 to organizations preparing for potential disasters and building out the nonprofit sector’s emergency response capabilities. For example, our grantees Centro Binacional Para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño and  Silicon Valley Community Foundation will provide emergency relief to farmworkers, immigrants and families adversely impacted by natural disasters like storms, floods and wildfires in California.

Humboldt Area Foundation will provide earthquake disaster relief to low-income communities in Humboldt County and surrounding areas. SMCU Community Fund and Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles will provide resources to the victims and families of the Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park mass shootings.

Championing Access to Quality Health Care for All

All Californians should be able to see a medical provider when they need to. However, there are many barriers in place that make it difficult for some people to access quality health care. Until health care is affordable and accessible to all, nonprofit clinics and community centers across California will be on the frontlines of providing life-saving safety-net services for free to people in need.

As part of our Equity in Access portfolio, this quarter we awarded five core operating support grants totaling $1.1 million to organizations that are providing direct health care services to uninsured, underinsured and unhoused Californians. Our grantee 3c Community Clinic will provide comprehensive primary care services to low-income individuals and families in Los Angeles. Alameda Point Collaborative and Symba Center will provide comprehensive health care services, including wellness checks and chronic disease management, to unhoused, low-income, and uninsured people in Alameda and San Bernardino counties, respectively.

Immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in California face unique health challenges at every step of their migration journey. Our grant to Transgender Law Center will support Border Butterflies Project, a coalition that provides urgently needed health, legal, humanitarian, and social services to LGBTQ+ migrants at the California-Mexico border. In the Bay Area, our grantee Bay Area Community Health will provide oral health services to Afghan refugees and other low-income individuals.

Supporting Low-wage Workers and Their Families

The increase in the state minimum wage to $15 an hour was a major win for activists in California. But it’s not sufficient amid the rising cost of living in our state. One in three working Californians are low-wage workers and they are struggling to make ends meet and support their families on incomes of $20 per hour.

This quarter, we awarded four grants totaling $1.2 million to grantees who are using policy advocacy and direct service to create living wage jobs that can sustain families.

Our grantee Democracy at Work Institute will expand the worker cooperative model to reach communities most directly affected by social and economic inequality, specifically people of color, recent immigrants, and low-­wage workers. Santa Cruz Community Ventures will also lead worker cooperative efforts and will engage working-class, Latino immigrants in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito counties. At worker cooperatives, workers are also owners, providing them with a measure of control over how profits are distributed.

The Oakstop Effect will help formerly incarcerated residents in Alameda County successfully reintegrate into society through workforce training, apprenticeships, internships, contracts and full-time employment. Our grantee GRACE will address the epidemic of childhood poverty in our state through public policy and legislative advocacy, including leading the End Child Poverty California Coalition.

These grants are a fraction of our total grantmaking this quarter and they represent our efforts to fund essential direct services to support Californians who are experiencing poverty, discrimination, and similar barriers to health. Other grants include support for strengthening service delivery systems, exploring narrative change to raise awareness about the trauma associated with youth violence, and strategies designed to protect reproductive justice.

In addition to its grantmaking, the foundation awarded two PRIs to advance its Advancing Wellness goals. A $1 million PRI loan to East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative (East Bay PREC) will assist in filling construction gaps at Esther's Orbit Room — a four-unit affordable housing project — and help assess the predevelopment and acquisition/construction cost of additional projects in West Oakland.

The SDS Supportive Housing Fund (SDS SHF), a for-profit Limited Partnership received a $3 million PRI equity commitment to assist in addressing California's homelessness crisis through an innovative model that develops permanent supportive housing (PSH) without relying on government funding for project financing.

“The concept of resiliency runs throughout these investments,” said Lori Cox, vice president of programs. “For struggling Californians and underresourced communities, our support is designed to rebuild and restore a sense of wellness.”

See the complete list of new grants.
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