Our latest round of grants prioritizes the reproductive justice movement in California as well as civic engagement and power-building in BIPOC communities across the state.
January 24, 2023—The California Wellness Foundation today announced $20.5 million in grants bringing the total 2022 distribution to $62 million.
We awarded 68 grants across our four Advancing Wellness portfolios, focusing on a wide range of core strategies including power building in BIPOC, immigrant and low-income communities, public policy advocacy that prioritizes the experiences and needs of underserved and marginalized Californians, and leadership and sustainability of BIPOC-led and -serving reproductive justice organizations.
“We knew that it was coming, but it didn't make the reversal of Roe any less painful. Overnight, millions of women across the country lost their freedom to choose for themselves when and whether to give birth,” said Judy Belk, Cal Wellness president and CEO. "At this moment, when fundamental rights are at stake, we are excited to see communities, advocates, and policymakers across state lines join together to protect and expand reproductive freedom and for the opportunity to work in partnership with leaders in the office of Governor Newsom.”
Supporting the Movement for Reproductive Justice Post-Roe
This month, we were poised to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a landmark legislation that made abortion a legal right in the United States. Woefully, the U.S. Supreme Court repealed this federal law last year, paving the way for individual states to limit or abolish abortion rights. Already, abortion is no longer available in 14 states, while eight additional states have introduced bans that are currently blocked by court order.
While California is known as a reproductive freedom state and has seen many wins including the passage of Proposition 1 in November of last year, the reality is that reproductive health care access in our state is neither equitable nor affordable. Low-income people of color and people living in rural and conservative areas of California continue to experience barriers to accessing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, including access to abortion and contraception.
We made seven grants totaling $1 million in core operating support to fund community-based organizations that are championing reproductive justice by providing care in underserved areas of the state and by participating in public policy at all levels, be it state, local, legislative, budgetary, regulatory, administrative, judicial or ballot initiatives.
Our grantee ACCESS Reproductive Justice will engage in policy advocacy efforts to center the needs of low-income people of color in health care policy decisions. Black Women for Wellness will engage Black women in statewide and local policy advocacy, organizing and outreach, while offering education around maternal, infant and sexual health and other intersectional issues that impact Black birthing people. California Latinas for Reproductive Justice will build Latinas’ political power and cultivate their leadership through policy advocacy, community education, and community-informed research. ACT for Women and Girls will build political power of LGBTQ+ youth in Central Valley and ensure that they are included in the reproductive justice movement.
Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, Planned Parenthood Shasta Diablo and Women's Health Specialists - Chico will use their grants to provide quality reproductive health and family planning care to low-income people living in rural and conservative regions of the state. These are counties like Inyo County where the nearest abortion provider is hours away and where rampant misinformation is spread by religious groups. In particular, these grantees will focus on removing barriers to access for immigrants, young people, foster youth, people with disabilities, and unhoused people.
Building Political Power in Historically Marginalized and Disenfranchised Communities
We awarded three core operating support grants totaling $2 million to movement building and civic engagement 501(c)(4) nonprofits focused on addressing the social determinants of health in California. We are the first private foundation in the state to provide core operating support to 501(c)(4) organizations.
The difference between 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofits is that the latter have more leeway when it comes to political activism and engaging in policy advocacy. They have power to hold elected officials accountable in their legislative roles and at the ballot box.
Unfortunately, 501(c)(4)s have a harder time getting funding due to more onerous fundraising and grantmaking rules. However, their work is urgently needed at this time when we are witnessing threats to democracy and voting rights, a significant rise in gun violence, continued barriers to economic opportunity and quality employment, and judicial and legislative attacks on our reproductive health access, among others.
PowerCA Action will build the leadership and political power of young people of color to pass progressive legislation, elect candidates and hold them accountable to the communities that elected them. Asian Pacific Environmental Network Action will mobilize 30,000 Asian immigrant and refugee voters to help shape public policy and win social, environmental and economic justice for all. California Calls Action Fund will expand the electorate to include more people of color and implement policy goals that fund public services, increase government effectiveness, create more equitable tax systems and encourage economic growth.
“The imbalance in political power inevitably creates disparities in health and economic outcomes,” said Lori A. Cox, vice president of programs. “A more equitable and healthy state requires a more inclusive democracy. We are excited to add support for visionary 501(c)(4)s to our grantmaking. They are widely known for their successful civic engagement models, subject matter expertise and deep relationships in the communities that they serve.”