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The California Wellness Foundation Invests More Than $6 Million to Advance and Defend Wellness

Woodland Hills, CA (April 4, 2017) – The California Wellness Foundation today announced an initial round of more than $6 million in grants as part of a focused response to threats to the well-being of Californians in the nation’s rapidly changing political and social landscape. Cal Wellness also announced a mission-related investment initiative and a public affairs campaign to further its goals to protect and promote health and wellness.

“When the communities we serve are under attack, we take action,” said Judy Belk, president and CEO of Cal Wellness. “The disruptive and dangerous changes in immigration policy and the attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act have brought a season of suffering in which our most vulnerable residents struggle to protect themselves. That’s why we’ve committed all of our resources – our grantmaking dollars, our financial investments and our voice – to advance and defend wellness.”

To address immediate and emerging issues, Cal Wellness has prioritized four issues within its Advancing Wellness grantmaking strategy and has accelerated its grantmaking process so that grantees receive dollars more quickly. The four priority areas and accompanying strategies are listed below.

  • Addressing the needs of immigrants: To protect immigrant communities as a vital part of a healthy California, grants will go to organizations working on advocacy, organizing and public policy efforts; strengthening of state and federal efforts related to impact litigation and immigration; naturalization; and “know-your-rights” education and deportation defense. Among the grantees is the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, which supports immigrant-serving organizations by providing updated data and analysis for community and advocacy organizations working toward health equity and immigrant integration.
  • Protecting access to health care: To protect access to care through the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, Medicare and other health coverage programs — and to maintain progress on access to health care in California — grants will support organizations working in California, as well as those working on national issues that will have a major impact on California. Among the grantees is the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, which engages in policy advocacy, education and community organizing activities to preserve access to health care services for vulnerable Californians.
  • Bolstering the safety net: To preserve access to health care services and other safety-net programs, grants will support organizations working on advocacy, community organizing and public education at the local, state and national levels. Among the grantees is the Western Center on Law and Poverty, which engages in public policy to improve health care and public benefit systems in California.
  • Preventing hate-based violence: To address the alarming rise in hate-based violence in California’s communities, grants will provide funds to organizations using legal services, trainings and public education to make timely responses to emerging opportunities or threats. These grants align with Cal Wellness’ long-standing commitment to violence prevention as a public health issue. Among the grantees is the Liberty Hill Foundation’s Rapid Response Fund for Racial Justice, which provides rapid-response grants that focus on both anti-hate and immigration issues.

“Given the urgency of these issues, ‘business as usual’ in philanthropy is inadequate,” said Debra Nakatomi, chair of Cal Wellness’ Board of Directors. “Our Board and staff have worked together to create a process that balances due diligence with the need to accelerate our grantmaking to meet the most pressing needs of our grantees and the communities they serve. Being nimble and flexible in responding to changes in the environment is critical to our role and responsibility in philanthropy, now more than ever.”

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