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Questions and Answers (Q&A)

Section 1: Understanding the Advancing Wellness Grants Program

In what areas do you fund?

Through the Advancing Wellness grants program, Cal Wellness focuses on: community environments, violence prevention and healing justice, and youth justice; universal coverage, access to care, system transformation, and priority populations; economic mobility and wealth creation, post-secondary education and training, and an economic safety net; strong and resilient nonprofit organizations, movement and power-building, and reimagining social justice.

What does Cal Wellness mean by the phrase “social determinants of health"?

We believe that health is more than just a personal pursuit and is often impacted by external circumstances that create obstacles to living a healthy life. Simply put, where people live and work, their race and/or ethnicity, and their income can impact their health and wellness. This is what we mean by “social determinants of health."

What does Cal Wellness mean by the phrase “health equity”?

Health equity means that every person has the opportunity to achieve optimal health regardless of his or her race, ethnicity, education level, gender identity, sexual orientation, employment, income, neighborhood or level of disability. Our desire is to help level the playing field so that everyone has access to good-paying jobs, safe neighborhoods and quality health care services.

Cal Wellness has been known for its responsive grantmaking and having an open door for applications. Is this still the case?

Yes. We remain committed to what we call the “Wellness Approach”: responsive, statewide grantmaking; core operating support; funding of direct services, public policy and capacity building; and prioritizing the health of underserved populations. We value ideas that come from organizations working to promote the health of the people of California. Rather than restricting our funds for certain strategies, we encourage organizations who fall within our grantmaking priorities to come to us with their ideas.

How does Cal Wellness define “core operating support”?

We define core operating support as funding that supports an organization as a whole rather than a specific project or program. Organizations that receive core operating support can make decisions about how to spend the grant money in ways that best support their missions.

What is an LOI?

LOI stands for letter of interest. Completing the online LOI via the webform is the first step in applying for funding from Cal Wellness.

Do you fund only nonprofit organizations in the field of health?

Our desire is to help level the playing field so that everyone has access to good-paying jobs, safe neighborhoods and quality health care services. For that reason, a number of different types of organizations are eligible for funding. Please review our grantmaking program in the What We Fund section to see if your organization falls within our priorities.

Do you have a place-based strategy?

We think it has been strategic for Cal Wellness to make grants statewide, and we will continue do so. Using relevant data, staff may prioritize populations and regions that are disproportionately affected by health inequities, as well as those that do not have strong networks of nonprofit organizations to meet the needs of their communities.

How do you define “safety-net organizations”?

A safety-net organization is any organization that provides health care services to people who are not able afford them. These can include, but are not limited to, community clinics, clinic consortia, hospitals, mobile clinics and dental clinics.

How will you measure success?

Cal Wellness has an evaluation framework for the Advancing Wellness grants program that will measure progress toward our stated goals. We use this framework to understand community needs and opportunities, measure our progress, calibrate and adjust strategies as needed, and appraise our impact on an ongoing basis.

Section 2: Navigating the Grantmaking Process

Would you explain Cal Wellness’ grantmaking process?

The first step is to submit a letter of interest (LOI).  When we receive your letter of interest, you will receive an email confirming it was received. The LOI will then be assigned to a program director for review. Typically, a decision is made within 90 days to either invite you to submit a full proposal or to deny the request. You will be notified of this decision by email. Many factors enter into this decision, including availability of funds, alignment with the Foundation’s priorities, assessment of the organization’s capabilities, the region and population served, and the project goals, if applicable.

Are there deadlines for grant applications?

We employ an open application process and accept letters of interest on an ongoing basis.

Does Cal Wellness give priority to previous or current grantees?

Cal Wellness does not give priority to previous or current grantees. Any organization is encouraged to apply if its request fits within the guidelines of our Advancing Wellness grants program.

Does Cal Wellness require an independent financial audit?

If, after submitting a letter of interest, an organization is invited to submit a proposal, two years’ worth of independent financial audits will be requested. If your organization does not have recent audited financial statements (within the last 18 months), the most recent Form 990 (tax return) will suffice.

What is the average grant amount?

The average grant amount is between $120,000 and $200,000 over three years.

If selected for a multiyear grant, do we need to submit a request for each year of the grant?

No. If you are awarded a grant for a certain time period, you will receive information about payment and reporting schedules over the course of the grant period.

What are the reporting requirements once a grant is awarded?

We ask for annual progress reports and a final comprehensive report at the end of the grant period. Cal Wellness is sensitive to the time it takes to provide reports and tries to keep the requirements confined to what is relevant and necessary.

If my request is denied, may I talk to someone at Cal Wellness to find out why?

If your request is denied, you will receive an email with the name of the person who reviewed your LOI. We encourage you to call or email this person to gain a better understanding of the reason(s) for the denial. Staff’s email addresses can be found in the Staff section of our website at, or you may call Cal Wellness’ headquarters at (818) 702-1900.

Section 3: Determining Eligibility

My funding request doesn’t fall neatly into one of the four portfolios. May I speak to someone to help me determine what to select?

Yes. You are welcome to contact Cal Wellness’ staff regarding questions you may have at (818) 702-1900.

My request doesn’t fit within the Foundation’s grantmaking programs, but we think it’s something Cal Wellness might fund. May we still apply?

Yes. But if the request does not match our funding guidelines, the chances of receiving funding may be low.

If I submit a request for one funding area, but it fits better within a different funding area, will my request be denied or reassigned?

Program directors work together to reassign a request if it is a better match for a different funding area.

Are you interested in funding organizations with particular budget sizes or that serve particular geographic areas?

We encourage organizations from all parts of the state and with varying budget sizes to apply for funding.

Can a program under an umbrella organization or fiscal sponsor apply for funding?

Yes. The organization doing the work may apply for funding. If invited to submit a proposal, more information will be requested to clarify the relationship with the umbrella organization or fiscal sponsor.

Are government entities eligible to apply directly or do they need to partner with 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations?

Government entities, including public school districts, may apply directly for a grant from Cal Wellness without a nonprofit partner.

May we request funding for a program that has been funded by Cal Wellness in the past?

As long as the request fits within the Advancing Wellness grantmaking guidelines, you may apply. However, former grantees do not receive any special priority.

My organization has received two consecutive core operating support grants from Cal Wellness. May we apply for a third grant?

Because we want to respond to as many requests as we can, we ask that a grantee that has received two consecutive grants wait at least one year after the end of their grant before submitting a new request for funding.

Our organization has never received funding from Cal Wellness. Are we at a disadvantage compared to other organizations that have received funding?

No. We encourage all organizations whose work fits within our funding priorities to apply. Our decisions are based on the availability of funds, alignment with the Foundation’s priorities, assessment of the organization’s capabilities, the region and population served, and the project goals, if applicable.

May we apply for funds to be used in different geographic or areas at the same time?

Yes. An organization may submit more than one application at the same time for different geographic areas in California or different areas.

May we apply to more than one portfolio at the same time?

It is not necessary to submit the same LOI to different funding areas if you think the request fits in more than one category. If a program director feels your request would be a better fit for a different funding area, he or she will forward it as appropriate. However, if you have two or more different requests for funding that would be used for different purposes, feel free to submit separate LOIs.

Are we eligible for funding if our headquarters is not in California but we have an active program or presence in California?

Yes. An organization with headquarters outside of California may apply for funding for work that is focused on California.

May a collaborative apply for funding?

Yes. Usually there is a lead organization that is responsible for submitting the application. The nature of the collaborative can be described in the letter of interest.

My organization’s LOI was denied. Do we need to wait a certain amount of time before applying again?

No. You are welcome to apply again any time. However, it might be helpful for you to look closely at the denial letter and review the funding priorities on our website. We also encourage organizations to contact the program director who reviewed your request before you apply again.

Is there a limit to how many times an organization may apply in a year?

No. There is no limit to the number of times you may apply.

Does an organization need to be in existence for a certain length of time to be considered for funding?

An organization does not need to have been in existence for a certain amount of time to apply for a grant.

If we request an amount that is too high for Cal Wellness to consider, will our request be denied or will we be giving partial funding?

It is possible to be awarded a different amount than what is requested. If you are invited to submit a proposal, the program director will provide more information about adjusting the amount if necessary at that time.

Does Cal Wellness provide matching grants?

Cal Wellness will consider providing matching grants, however, it is often difficult to align our timeline with those of other organizations.  For further information, please email us at grants(at) or call (818) 702-1900 and ask for the Grants Management Department.

Section 4: Submitting a Letter of Interest

How do I get started with an online Letter of Interest?

We are pleased to accept online submissions of Letters of Interest via our webform in an effort to streamline the grant request process and expedite our internal reviews.

First, read about What We Fund. If you feel your organization falls within our grantmaking guidelines, please follow the instructions in the Apply for a Grant section.

How do I begin the online application process?

From the Apply for a Grant page, click the Start a New LOI link.

If we apply for funds with partner organizations, will the partner organizations then be ineligible for requesting funding on their own?

No. Partner organizations may still apply for their own funding.

How long should my Request Narrative be and how should I submit it?

The Request Narrative should be no more than two pages, using a 12-point font and one-inch margins. Accepted file types are Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) and Adobe PDF (.pdf). You will be asked to upload the Request Narrative as part of the online LOI submission process. Please note that submissions beyond two pages will not be accepted.

Is there a place to identify my request as either for core operating support or for project support?

Yes, there is a section in the LOI application to identify the request.

If I am in the middle of writing my LOI, can I save it and continue working later?

We recommend that you download the worksheet, which will allow you to work on the request with others and make notes prior to starting the online submission process.

Our organization is not yet in a position to submit information and documents electronically. May we mail or fax our letter of interest?

Cal Wellness accepts LOIs through an online grant request application process. Paper letters of interest will be accepted under extenuating circumstances. For further information, please email us at grants(at) or call (818) 702-1900 and ask for the Grants Management Department.

How do I submit the LOI once I am done?

From the LOI link, complete the form and click "Submit" at bottom. To receive a copy of your LOI, click the checkbox next to 'Send me a copy of my responses" and enter your email address.

Once an LOI has been submitted, can I change it?

Once submitted, an LOI cannot be modified.

How can I tell if my LOI has been received by Cal Wellness?

Once you have submitted an LOI, you will receive a confirmation and copy of your responses if you clicked "Send me a copy of my responses" and entered an email address.

Is it possible to access the proposal requirements online?

The first step in the process is to submit an LOI. If you are invited to submit a proposal, you will be given proposal instructions and requirements at that time.

I still need help. How do I contact you?

You may email the Grants Management Department at grants(at) or call (818) 702-1900 and ask for Grants Management. We are happy to answer your questions.

Section 5: Contacting The California Wellness Foundation

How can I contact Cal Wellness?

Call our Downtown Los Angeles headquarters at (818) 702-1900 or the Oakland branch at (415) 908-3000, or click Contact Us on to submit a question. Staff email addresses can be found on’s Staff page.

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