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Showing Up for California Communities in 2022

Alex M. Johnson, Interim Vice President of Programs

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It’s hard to believe that 2021 is almost over. The past few years have been tumultuous indeed. COVID-19 exposed the fragility of our health care infrastructure and safety-net systems. And persistent racial inequity summoned an awakening that continues to fuel the movement for racial justice. Yet, we have a long way to go.

In 2022, we expect to distribute $53.55 million in grants and $7 million in program-related investments. This reflects a third year of increased grantmaking and PRIs from Cal Wellness in response to needs we’re seeing in communities. Here’s a look at the priorities across each of our portfolios in 2022.

COVID-19 Response and Recovery

We must remain nimble to address the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic. And we know that Black, Latino, and Native American communities, in particular, continue to be disproportionately impacted. We anticipate that high unemployment will persist through the upcoming year, driving the continued need for strategic action to address basic needs among vulnerable communities in California. In 2022, we will:

What We'll Do in 2022

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  • Prioritize grants to communities of color, low-income communities, seniors, and individuals without access to government benefits to ensure basic human needs are met.
  • Continue to support access to food and financial support to cover day-to-day expenses and childcare.
  • Address the ongoing need for housing support and security through advocacy efforts and impact ligation.
  • Continue to support culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach and education on COVID-19 vaccination.

Universal Coverage, Access to Care, and Health System Transformation


The systemic challenges exacerbated by the pandemic have catalyzed momentum to transform the health system and improve overall care and service delivery. The recent expansion of Medi-Cal to all low-income adults, 50 years of age and over, regardless of immigration status, signals that California will continue to forge a pathway toward universal health coverage.

What We'll Do in 2022

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  • Continue funding advocacy efforts to ensure that the Medi-Cal expansion is implemented smoothly and efficiently.

  • Continue to support multi-sector, community collaboratives to address the health needs of communities.

Movement and Power Building

We recognize that California’s political landscape continues to shift, and much is yet to be determined on this front.  However, significant policy and budgetary battles continue, and there is an ongoing need to strengthen the capacity of communities to effectively advance social change through movement and power building

What We'll Do in 2022

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  • Maximize support for communities by expanding our grantmaking to include 501(c)(4) organizations, helping to strengthen the capacity of power-building organizations in California.
  • Support emerging work to improve community health and increase civic participation in tribal and Native communities through the recovery of cultural practices.

Strengthening Economic Security


The economic impact of COVID-19 has been severe as millions of Californians have lost jobs and faced an uncertain return to the workforce. The pandemic has widened the economic security gap and exacerbated economic inequality, particularly among women of color and people of color overall

What We'll Do in 2022

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  • Support efforts to provide an equitable return to the workforce and access to quality jobs, particularly among women of color.

  • Identify opportunities to increase access to workforce development and small business support programs for underserved communities of color, immigrants, and women.

Gun Violence Prevention

The death of George Floyd in 2020 spurred efforts to reform policing, reimagine community safety, and reinvest police spending on community-based efforts. In many communities, the inability to meet basic needs is a root cause factor contributing to the rise of community violence, particularly gun violence. In 2022, we will bolster our efforts to prevent gun violence by:

What We'll Do in 2022

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  • Launch strategic communications to build overall awareness of gun violence as a preventable public health issue.
  • Increase investments in community and hospital-based violence intervention.


  • Build upon our policing and racial justice work to strengthen efforts to shift from expanding police departments to investing in community-led approaches to safety.


The needs of immigrant communities remain urgent as efforts to reform federal immigration policy continue. We will continue to invest in critical services for undocumented immigrants and support policy advocacy efforts that strengthen immigrant communities. In 2022, we will:

What We'll Do in 2022

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  • Support efforts to implement a pathway to citizenship for undocumented residents.
  • Continue to support policy advocacy efforts focused on strengthening immigrant communities.

Looking Ahead

We’re excited to share these plans. Even in difficult times like this, we still have hope. And in all we do, we’re inspired by the people of California – the people of color, immigrants, and diverse communities across the state who are amplifying their voices through advocacy, storytelling, and organizing to boldly reshape the present and the future. They are our North Star as we make decisions about how to move dollars into communities. In 2022 and beyond, we look forward to working alongside our grantees and community partners to build a more equitable future for all. Onward. Upward. Together.


Interim Vice President of Programs Alex M. Johnson

Alex M. Johnson is interim vice president of programs at The California Wellness Foundation. He is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Grants Program Department, which includes oversight of Cal Wellness’ grantmaking.

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