Our latest round of grants prioritizes research, public policy and legal strategies to protect and expand access to health care and to prevent gun violence.
June 15, 2022—The California Wellness Foundation today announced $4.8 million in grants and $1.5 million in impact investments awarded in the first quarter of 2022 to advance health equity in California.
We awarded 21 grants across our four Advancing Wellness portfolios, focusing on expanding access to care in Native American, immigrant, refugee and BIPOC communities and investing in independent research to advance health equity, prevent gun violence and transform the justice system. Our impact investment went to Seed Commons, a cooperative effort that invests in marginalized communities, creates good jobs locally and supports economic mobility in low-income communities.
“Developing smart and effective public policy solutions to tough, persistent problems like gun violence depends upon solid research,” said Judy Belk, Cal Wellness president and CEO. “Cal Wellness has funded such research for decades, and we will continue to do so, ensuring a strong knowledge base to guide policymakers, funders and the public to know what really keeps us safe.”
Funding Rigorous Scientific Research on Violence Prevention
As part of our Community Well-being grantmaking portfolio, we awarded four core operating support grants totaling $800,000 dollars to organizations working at the cutting edge of community violence research. In particular, we supported organizations that are building a body of independent research on gun violence prevention and intervention as well as research on criminal and juvenile justice reform.
Every year, there are over 38,000 firearm deaths and 115,000 injuries from firearms in the United States. RAND Corporation will build and diversify the gun violence prevention research field by organizing the National Research Conference on Firearms Injury Prevention. The 2022 conference will bring together researchers from around the nation, including California, to develop data-driven solutions and tools our elected officials can use to make policy changes that will have lasting effect on reducing gun violence.
When conducting research, it is essential to have people with lived experience at the table. At the same time, creating sustainable change often requires collaborating with unlikely allies. Our grant to the UCLA Institute of Research on Labor and Employment will enable them to bring together and engage former corrections officers and formerly incarcerated people to reimagine the youth justice system in Los Angeles County.
Expanding Access to Health Care in Vulnerable Communities
As part our Equity in Access grantmaking portfolio, this quarter we awarded 11 core operating support grants totaling more than $2.5 million to community organizations working to increase access to quality, comprehensive and culturally competent health care services to all Californians.
Because disparities in health and health care access across different racial and ethnic groups is so severe, our grantees prioritize underserved communities, in particular Native American, immigrant and refugee communities. Toiyabe Indian Health Project, Inc. will provide comprehensive primary care to Native American communities in Inyo and Mono counties. Asian Health Services will create an Innovation Hub, a technological solution to address health inequities that affect Asian American and Pacific Islander seniors in the Bay Area. Currently, 73% of their patients come from households that don’t speak much English, and 97% are low-income or uninsured.
Clínica Msr. Oscar A. Romero serves low-income Salvadoran and Central American immigrant communities in Los Angeles. They will implement their Health Equity & Legal Support program to address unmet legal and immigration needs that harm their community members’ health. The National Health Law Program, Inc. will advocate for health laws and policies that counteract structural barriers, institutional power dynamics, overt discrimination and implicit bias. They will also litigate at the state and federal levels to address health and racial inequities in access to quality health care.
Investing at the Intersection of Race, Community and Wealth
We have been making Program-Related Investments (PRIs) for five years. They 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 quarter, we invested $1.5 million in Seed Commons, a national Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and a network of community-led loan funds created to increase access to financing for worker-owned cooperatives and cooperative projects. Seed Commons channels dollars to cooperatively-owned businesses that create jobs, build wealth, and challenge inequality.
“I’ve now been at Cal Wellness for a couple months and every day I've been inspired by our strategic grantmaking and investment philosophy,” said Lori A. Cox, vice president of programs. “This integrated strategy expands our reach into communities and creates the promise of deeper impact.”