August 22, 2018—The California Wellness Foundation recently approved $7.6 million in grants to organizations throughout the state to improve the health of Californians. Grantees will work toward wellness through avenues such as workforce development, policy advocacy, and education support for resilient youth.
“With these grants, we’re getting money to groups that have been historically underfunded, such as the Native American community, leveraging public dollars to make sure that underresourced communities have parks and open space, and addressing urgent community needs such as the devastating recent fires,” said Judy Belk, Cal Wellness President and CEO.
Several of these grants support collaborations among groups that will leverage their distinct areas of expertise and complement each other’s efforts. One such example is a grant for $330,000 for Common Counsel Foundation to partner with Native Americans in Philanthropy in support of Native Voices Rising. Established in 2013, Native Voices Rising is a collaborative fund that relies on Native American community members to recommend grants to organizations that serve and are led by Native Americans. With Cal Wellness’ funding, Common Counsel and Native Americans in Philanthropy will provide annual mini-grants and also design a program to provide customized support to help Native-led organizations across California become more effective in achieving their mission and goals. At the end of the grant period, Cal Wellness hopes to gain a better understanding of what it takes to support the health and wellness needs of different Native American communities throughout the state.
“It is so important, when working with any community, to respect the culture, history and wisdom of the people in that community and then empower them with the additional tools they need to succeed,” said Director of Learning and Evaluation Tina Eshaghpour. “At the same time, those of us in philanthropy need to always listen and learn from our grantees. By the end of this grant, we hope to have strengthened a network of social change organizations across California, and together we will have made great strides toward strengthening those organizations working to improving the health of Native American communities.”
Another example of Cal Wellness grantees working together is a partnership between Kounkuey Design Initiative in Los Angeles and Public Health Advocates in Davis. Each organization will receive a $400,000 grant from Cal Wellness over a period of three years. They will use their grants to develop a joint campaign that helps underresourced communities get much needed funding to create parks in neighborhoods that don’t have them.
“We’re thrilled that the voters of California passed Proposition 68 to provide state funding for local parks because parks are a key building block for healthy communities,” said Program Director Earl Lui. “But too often, the cities with the greatest need don’t have the staff and infrastructure to successfully compete for public funding. By working together, Kounkuey Design Initiative and Public Health Advocates will help cities apply for state funds and involve community residents in creating well-designed parks that help boost physical and mental health.”
Lui said that Public Health Advocates has experience in increasing awareness of the health benefits of parks and strong connections with local government leaders, while Kounkuey Design Initiative will provide expertise in data collection, urban planning, landscape architecture and community outreach. Together they will educate people about the availability of increased funding for parks through Proposition 68, develop a toolkit for how to apply for funding, and provide hands-on assistance to at least 12 communities in developing and submitting proposals for park funding.
Cal Wellness also made grants in response to the Carr Fire that has scorched several hundred thousands of acres of land and destroyed more than 1,200 structures in Shasta and Trinity counties. The Foundation quickly granted $40,000 each to Shasta Regional Community Foundation and United Way of Northern California to provide immediate relief directly to community members as well as support the efforts of local organizations to deliver relief and recovery services.