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Cal Wellness Announces $8.8 Million in Grants

(Photo credit: La Cocina)

Grants increase access to health care and safety-net programs and promote economic security for underserved families and communities

Sept. 4, 2019

The California Wellness Foundation today announced $8.8 million in grants to improve the health of California communities. These grants focus on ensuring that people living in underserved California communities have access to health care, safety-net programs and services, and opportunities to enhance their potential to earn an income to support themselves and their families.

“Too many Californians are struggling to get basic services and make ends meet,” said Judy Belk, Cal Wellness president and CEO. “To advance wellness in California, we have to invest in organizations working to ensure our state is a place where everyone can do well and be well.”

The complete list of grants can be found here.

Californians Deserve Access to Health Care and a Robust Safety Net of Benefits

California has made great strides to expand access to health care for uninsured and underinsured residents in the years since we began implementing the Affordable Care Act. Even as current health care law is being challenged at the federal level, our state leaders have largely resisted attempts to restrict and reduce eligibility for benefits.

“Health reform will continue to be a hot topic at the forefront of policy conversations,” said Sandra Martinez, Cal Wellness director of public policy. “So we want to make sure that leaders have fact-based information and analysis that reflects the real world.”

Six grants totaling $2.45 million will help advance this goal. Grants to Insure the Uninsured Project; Western Center on Law and Poverty; and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities will promote independent research, dissemination of reports and legislative briefings to inform policymakers. Sacramento-based Health Access Foundation will engage in public policy activities that ensure the perspective of consumers is strongly represented when it comes to improving access to health care and affordability of coverage. And the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network will advance policy reforms that benefit communities of color throughout the state.

Economic Security for California Families Will Lead to Better Health Outcomes and Equity

Research shows that income is a key predictor of health and wellness. Yet improving the health of Californians will continue to be a challenge while many families throughout the state struggle to earn a living wage.

“Economic outcomes are health outcomes,” said Fatima Angeles, Cal Wellness vice president of programs. “Efforts that help boost – as well as guarantee – incomes, secure fair wages and create good jobs will build the health of individuals, families and communities.”

Eleven grants totaling $2.2 million fund a range of strategies that organizations and communities use to help lift people out of poverty. For example, Rubicon Programs in Contra Costa County will work with extremely low-income adults, many formerly incarcerated, to reduce barriers to employment. Other grants focus on entrepreneurship, including Oakland-based Inner City Advisors who will provide technical assistance and other support services to help women and people of color build businesses that provide good jobs for their communities. La Cocina will incubate small, microenterprises in San Francisco’s Tenderloin – bringing nutritious food options to this low-income neighborhood.

Other grants support broader policy solutions to ensuring income security for underserved communities. For example, Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap will educate leaders on strategies to help low-income women build financial assets and contribute to the overall prosperity of their families and communities.

Cal Wellness also awarded a grant to help fund the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration – our country’s first-ever city-led guaranteed-income initiative. Participating households receive an unconditional monthly payment of $500, meaning no work or spending requirements. The demonstration project will help determine if a universal basic income can deliver positive community health benefits like decreased rates of hospitalization, decreased alcohol and tobacco use, and improved mental health outcomes.

Creating pipelines to employment also helps create well-paying jobs, especially in sectors such as health care that continue to expand in the current economy. Grants to Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland and the UCSF Fresno Latino Center for Medical Education and Research fund programs for underrepresented minority high school and college students to prepare for careers in the health professions.

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 more than 9,200 grants.

Questions? Contact Sande Smith, Director of Communications at (415) 908-3009 or ssmith(at)calwellness.org.

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