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Cal Wellness Announces $15 Million in Grants

Grants support planning and implementation of the 2020 census, prevention of gun violence and improved access to health care; $2 million in program-related investments also approved.

January 30, 2019—The California Wellness Foundation today announced $15 million in grants, including funds to support effective implementation of the 2020 census in California, grants that continue the foundation’s investment in preventing gun violence, and a cluster of grants to organizations throughout the state that provide direct, preventive health services – including dental care for low-income adults and seniors, a particularly unmet need. Cal Wellness also announced its first program-related investments, totaling $2 million.

“Cal Wellness’ recent grantmaking affirms our commitment to health equity and delivers dollars directly to underserved and under-resourced communities,” said Judy Belk, Cal Wellness president and CEO.

The complete list of recent grants can be found here.

Everyone Must Be Counted

 The collection of accurate, timely and comprehensive census data is crucial to the health of California communities. Federal officials rely on the data to allocate billions of government dollars for programs like CHIP, California’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Medi-Cal, the state’s Medical Assistance Program. If California’s population is undercounted, the state will miss out on resources that support the health safety net. Census data also guides decision-making in other areas related to the health of a community, including where to locate a new school or community center or transit projects. In the last census in 2010, it is believed that 1.5 million people in California were uncounted; including minority and low-income communities, children and the homeless.

Cal Wellness anticipates investing up to $3 million in grants by the time the census is complete in 2020 to help ensure a successful count in California. Recent grants include support for two organizations determined to make sure the philanthropic sector is an effective partner in implementing the census by providing resources in areas of greatest concern – including immigrant communities. Cal Wellness awarded $125,000 for Philanthropy California and $150,000 to Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees. Another grant to the Advancement Project includes funding for the Census Policy Advocacy Network to educate policymakers and advocates representing hard-to-count groups about policies needed to ensure a fair and accurate census.

Preventing Gun Violence

 Gun violence continues to exact a deadly toll on American families and communities. Gun fatalities reached a record high in 2018. Nearly 40,000 people died from firearm injuries according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In November and again in January, we witnessed tragic events in Southern California communities of Thousand Oaks and Torrance – communities not far from our headquarters in Los Angeles. For more than 25 years, Cal Wellness has invested in preventing violence, including gun violence, using a public health lens to guide grantmaking.

The Hope and Heal Fund will receive $1.25 million to build its capacity to maximize a range of efforts to reduce gun violence. The Fund has served as a key driver in movement building by generating issue awareness, supporting advocacy, mobilizing community-based advocates and inspiring greater investment in gun violence research and prevention.

Hospitals are increasingly recognized as an important partner in community violence prevention. Hospital-based violence intervention programs vary in design and scope but typically include a brief intervention in the emergency department or at hospital bedside and intensive community-based case management services. A grant to the National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention programs will support research and outreach to policymakers to encourage expansion of these models to more communities.

Another grant to the Guardian Foundation, publisher of the Guardian newspaper, will fund Turnaround Cities, a year-long, community-based reporting project on breaking cycles of gun violence in Bay Area communities.

Increasing Access to Care

Despite tremendous gains in insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act and other policies, many Californians still struggle to access quality, affordable medical and dental care. Funding direct, preventive health services has been central to Cal Wellness’ grantmaking since the foundation was established. Almost $2.4 million was awarded to community health centers, dental centers and safety net hospitals throughout California.

One grant funds delivery of outpatient specialty care at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital’s Advanced Care Clinic in South Los Angeles – one of the poorest urban communities in the nation. The clinic serves patients who often have complex conditions that need more care than can be provided in a community clinic and helps reduce the rate that these patients are readmitted to the hospital. A cluster of grants to community health centers in communities stretching from Orange County to Monterey ensures that families will have affordable, community-based providers to help meet their health care needs. Other grants support the provision of oral health care services to low-income adults and seniors. Until MediCare covers dental services, accessing this care will continue to be a struggle for many older Californians.

Injecting Capital into Underserved Communities

Cal Wellness’ first program-related investments will go to two Community Development Financial Institutions: Rural Community Assistance Corporation and Opportunity Fund. Each will receive a low-interest loan of $1 million.

These dollars will be packaged as loans to under-resourced entrepreneurs and small businesses working in vulnerable communities and to support the development of infrastructure critical to community health. RCAC is one of the leading lenders to rural and tribal areas, and finances infrastructure such as drinking water and waste water systems for tribes and local governments in California. Opportunity Fund focuses on advancing the economic wellbeing of working people. It lends to entrepreneurs such as micro-enterprises and small businesses led by women, immigrants and people of color.

The PRIs are part of a larger, $50 million mission related investment commitment made by the foundation’s board to leverage our endowment capital and invest beyond our grantmaking to improve the health of underserved communities.

“Grantmaking alone isn’t enough to achieve our goal of removing barriers that keep Californians from achieving health and wellness,” said Joe Lumarda, Cal Wellness board chair and chair of the finance committee when the PRI policy and selection occurred. “These investments allow us to leverage more of our endowment to improve the lives of Californians.”


About The California Wellness Foundation

The California Wellness Foundation’s mission is to protect and improve the health and wellness of the people of California by increasing access to health care, quality education, good jobs, healthy environments and safe neighborhoods. Since its founding in 1992, Cal Wellness has awarded more than $1 billion in charitable contributions and 9,229 grants.


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