Nov. 20, 2017—The California Wellness Foundation announced today that it has recently committed more than $7 million in funding under its Advancing Wellness grants program. High on the list of priorities was helping Californians recover from the October fires in Santa Rosa and the surrounding areas through grants to Solano Community Foundation and Community Foundation of Napa Valley. The money was earmarked for temporary shelter, food, medical care, mental health services, emergency child care, transportation, referrals, case management, legal services and other human services for those affected by the fires.
“In times of trauma, health suffers,” said Fatima Angeles, vice president of programs. “And recovering from the devastation of the fires in Northern California will be a years-long process. The community foundations in Napa and Solano are in the best position to assess the needs of residents and offer help, and we are eager to support their efforts.”
Cal Wellness also made a significant grant to Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees to strengthen the capacity of local and regional efforts to support the health and well-being of immigrants as part of the Foundation’s Advance and Defend campaign. A portion of the grant has been used as a matching gift to generate support for the UndocuFund, which is funding direct fire-relief services for undocumented immigrants in Sonoma County.
While the fires have left many people without homes for the first time, homelessness is not a new problem for California — and living on the streets is especially difficult for women. The Downtown Women’s Center in Los Angeles completed a 2016 needs assessment showing that 90% of homeless women on Skid Row identify as survivors of trauma, and more than 55% reported their physical health as “poor” or “fair.” To mark Cal Wellness’ relocation of its headquarters to downtown Los Angeles in September, a grant was made to the Downtown Women’s Center, a new neighbor of the Foundation, to provide health and supportive services, case management and permanent supportive housing to homeless women in Los Angeles over the next two years.
Homeless young people, particularly foster youth, also face unique challenges. With a grant from Cal Wellness, John Burton Advocates for Youth will provide technical assistance to supportive housing programs so that they can in turn provide academic case management and coaching, build relationships with colleges, and help youth manage the financial aid system and the work-school balance.