Grants supported frontline community clinics providing health care to the most underserved residents in our state, organizations led by and serving communities most impacted by systemic oppression and inequality, and nonprofits using advocacy to transform systems and build power in communities of color.
August 18, 2023—The California Wellness Foundation today announced $18.2 million in grants and impact investments to advance health equity in California. The foundation awarded a total of 75 grants focusing on strengthening the health care safety net, improving access to high-quality oral health care, supporting budget and policy advocacy in communities of color, and helping California nonprofits become stronger and more resilient.
“Among other priorities, this docket represents our commitment to sending dollars directly into communities and making significant investments when we see opportunities to push the needle towards greater health and racial equity,” said Judy Belk, Cal Wellness president and CEO.
Transforming Systems and Advancing Change Through Advocacy
We awarded three large grants totaling $3.75 million to longtime grantees whose work is fueling transformational change. They are growing their organizations, empowering fellow nonprofits and driving far-reaching impact in the health equity field.
We awarded a $2 million grant to Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, among the largest grants awarded in recent years by the foundation. To transform the physician workforce in California, they are launching their own independent four-year medical degree program to train physicians from underrepresented racial minority backgrounds. Starting in 2027, the program will graduate 60 diverse and culturally competent doctors annually, thereby helping to reduce health care disparities and foster equitable access to quality care in under-resourced communities.
We awarded a $1 million grant to California Budget and Policy Center in Sacramento. Their work of demystifying the state budget process has transformed the advocacy ecosystem in California. Community organizations across the state are using CBPC’s research, analyses and trainings to meaningfully participate in and actively influence local, county and state budgets and policy decision-making.
Similarly, we awarded a core operating support grant of $750,000 to Alliance for Justice, a Washington-based organization that enables nonprofits across the country to advance progressive and systemic change through advocacy. By providing training, technical assistance and resources, AFJ helps nonprofits and foundations navigate complex 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and PAC (political action committee) rules so that these organizations can safely and confidently engage in policy making.
“As a longtime funding partner for Alliance for Justice, the California Budget and Policy Center and Charles Drew University, we’ve seen how these organizations already have tremendous impact—and they are well-positioned to do even more,” said Lori A. Cox, vice president of programs. “Our large investments at this critical juncture will allow each to operate and innovate with maximum courage, confidence and flexibility.”
Safeguarding Access to High-Quality Care in Underserved Communities
We awarded core operating support grants totaling $1.3 million to community health clinics that are providing high-quality, comprehensive primary care services in low-income, uninsured and underinsured communities.
Our grantees Anphon Corporation and Imani Clinic will provide affordable primary care services to low-income residents of Inglewood and South Los Angeles and the Oak Park neighborhood in Sacramento. Special Needs Network, Inc. will provide behavioral services for Black and Latino families in Los Angeles while engaging in statewide policy advocacy to ensure that people of color with developmental disabilities can access affordable behavioral health services. Catalyst of San Diego and Imperial Counties will use their California Border Support Rapid Response Fund to provide timely and culturally relevant health care services to asylum seekers entering the U.S. at the California-Mexico border.
We continued to support clinics that provide affordable or free oral health care to low-income individuals and families. We are one of very few funders in the country who invest in oral health care for low-income adults and seniors, despite the critical importance of oral health to overall physical well-being. Our grantees Coppertower Family Medical Center, Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, Smile Unto Him and Sonrisas Dental Health will provide affordable preventive dental care and treatment services to low-income seniors, immigrants and farmworkers living in underserved communities all across California, from rural Sonoma and Mendocino to San Diego, Riverside, Half Moon Bay and San Mateo.
Investing In Communities Beyond Grantmaking and General Operating Support
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.
This spring, we invested $1.5 million in Liberty Hill Foundation, a progressive funder based in Los Angeles. Our investment will enable them to provide bridge loans to social justice nonprofits in Los Angeles that are facing ongoing financial challenges because of delays in payments on government contracts. These bridge loans are important because payments can sometimes be delayed by two to four months, jeopardizing a smaller nonprofit’s financial strength and resilience.
We also invested $500,000 to address the housing crisis in California. A Los Angeles-based real estate investment manager, iimpact, focused on providing equity financing to women real estate developers who are focusing on building affordable housing in low to moderate income neighborhoods, will partner with women developers of color who are typically unable to get financing by traditional real estate lenders.
Other grants in this quarter’s docket include supporting organizations working in California’s tribal communities, providing trauma-informed services to community members who experience violence, and facilitating coalition- and movement-building to promote health equity.