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Showing Up for California Communities in 2023

By Lori Cox

It's been a difficult first couple months of 2023. The pandemic continues to have a disparate effect on communities of color throughout California. Gun violence — both mass shootings and day-to-day violence — continues to ravage the communities we serve. The impact on California communities has been far-reaching, and we know the needs of Californians have never been greater and more urgent.

Even in these times, our grantee partners continue to demonstrate resilience –while defining bold ideas and solutions to confront the unique challenges facing our diverse communities. I have witnessed their resilience and boldness firsthand in conversations with community partners during my statewide listening and learning tour in 2022, and I see it nearly every day reflected in the work grantees carry out in the communities they serve.  When I think about Cal Wellness’ work for this year and beyond, I think about how we can deepen our support, and level up our work in the field and with grantee partners.

This year, we expect to distribute $53.5 million in grants and up to $7 million in program-related investments. This reflects a fourth year of increased grantmaking and PRIs from Cal Wellness in response to our deep and continued commitment to communities across California. And we’re committed to being flexible and responsive as needs arise.

Here’s a look at our grantmaking priorities this year:

  • Community Well-being: This work will continue to confront the rise of community violence, particularly gun violence, both in California and nationally. Additionally, we will continue our work in the youth justice movement, and we will also address the disproportionate impact of environmental issues on communities of color.
  • Economic Security and Dignity: This work continues to support pathways to economic prosperity for Californians most disconnected from economic wellbeing.We will focus on the completion of the first phase of a medical school community engagement project, culminating in findings and stakeholder convenings that will articulate ideas for potential follow-up, including a second phase for engagement of medical schools. Supporting the economic trajectories of people of color and immigrants, particularly low-income women, will inform our strategy in this area.
  • Equity in Access: We’ll focus on the implementation and expansion of Medi-Cal to undocumented residents, and health system transformation will anchor our strategic priorities.Increasing health care coverage for California residents is both a good health policy and good fiscal policy. Every new person that signs up for health care means that person will no longer use the emergency room for non-emergency health care. By reducing the number of patients using the highest cost health services and increasing the number of people using a primary care provider, health care costs can be reduced, and health providers can make better use of limited health care resources.
  • Leading for Power and Change: We will deepen and expand our support for organizations that utilize traditional organizing models, integrated voter engagement strategies and coalition-building to correct the imbalance in political power that creates health and economic disparities.
    • We’ll invest in opportunities to increase resources toward organizing and civic engagement efforts in California.
    • We’ll target resources to support movement leaders in their holistic development and healing, including the re-launch of the Cal Wellness sabbatical program focused on movement leaders and support for BIPOC-led capacity-building organizations.
    • Finally, our work in this area this year will continue to pilot grantmaking to 501(c)(4) organizations working to increase participation in the civic and political process. (Learn more about the work of 501(c)(4) organizations here.)

We’re excited to share our grantmaking plans and priorities as we look ahead to the work we’ve committed to in partnership with California communities. We are inspired by the  our community partners and we hope you’ll join us in both learning more and supporting their work, this year and beyond.

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Vice President of Programs Lori A. Cox

Lori A. Cox is vice president of programs at Cal Wellness. She has 30 years of notable success working on behalf of communities, individuals, families and at-risk children. Her career demonstrates an unwavering commitment to forging productive working relationships that engage residents as active partners in creating healthy, thriving communities.

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