Skip to Content

Women of Color Health Initiatives: Impact

Despite evidence of need, Black and Latinx women are rarely the subjects of large-scale health and employment initiatives. That's why in 2016, Cal Wellness launched two multi-year initiatives to fund and elevate respectful, culturally competent strategies for improving the health, well-being and quality of life for Black and Latinx women and girls.

Promo Reentry


We supported three demonstration projects in which grantees engaged formerly incarcerated women of color in comprehensive workforce development services including job training, career advancement and asset-building. The demonstration project grantees also promoted and advocated for systems and policy change. Systems change is critical for formerly incarcerated women of color to become economically self-sufficient.

Promo Hiv

HIV/AIDS/STIs Prevention

Black and Latinx women represent less than a quarter of all U.S. women, but make up the large majority of women currently living with HIV. HIV/AIDS-related illness is among the leading causes of death for Black women ages 25-34. That’s why we created two demonstration projects, a sexual health toolkit called RoyalTea, and a public awareness campaign called Upspoken to inspire Black women to learn about their bodies and empower themselves to defend against HIV/AIDS and STIs.

Our Goals

The Women’s Initiatives aimed to (1) increase Black and Latinx women’s access to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention services; and (2) expand employment opportunities and support services for formerly incarcerated Black and Latinx women.

We prioritized fulfilling our goals in a way that respected the experiences, concerns and wisdom of Black and Latinx women and girls. In addition, we wanted policymakers and funders to see examples and evidence of what works to improve the health and economic opportunities of Black and Latinx women.

To understand the impact of the initiatives, we partnered with the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, ETR and Impact Justice for a process evaluation that went from 2018 - 2021. We intentionally selected firms led by Black women so as to center women of color in every aspect of this work.

An Investment in Black and Latinx Women

For Black and Latinx women, gender discrimination is compounded by racial and ethnic discrimination, which both intensifies and uniquely shapes their experiences. For example, Black and Latinx women experience higher rates of poverty compared to white women and girls, and face major challenges accessing culturally relevant healthcare. Based on data showing profound need, Cal Wellness set out to expand access to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention among Black and Latinx women and create economic opportunities for formerly incarcerated women.

Our Investment

We invested more than $13 million over six years to advance health and economic opportunity for Black and Latinx women across the state.

Investment Area Amount
Developing the strategy and planning the implementation $940,000
Project management support $1.7 million
External evaluation $650,000
Reentry demonstration sites, public policy implementation, and technical assistance $4.3 million
HIV/AIDS demonstration sites and public awareness campaign $6.3 million
COVID Rapid Response $130,000
RoyalTea/Upspoken Transition to California Black Women’s Health Project $125,000
Total investment in the Women’s Initiative $13.3 million

Lessons Learned

The evaluation team partnered with demonstration project grantees to determine the evaluation questions and make adjustments as needed. By focusing on both project activities and the factors that influence implementation, the evaluators were able to identify improvement opportunities. The evaluators assessed the initiatives’ effectiveness and scalability; uplifted promising practices; and identified areas of intersection for future initiatives, such as race, gender, sexuality, ability, health status, and conviction status.


Increase Organizational Capacity

The Initiatives significantly increased the overall capacity of the grantees, community partners and other stakeholders. Grantees and community partners were able to strengthen and grow their operational infrastructure and make program improvements that enhanced the value and impact of their interventions.

Facilitate Strategic Connections

For successful outcomes, funders must go beyond grantmaking. In partnership with grantees, we can facilitate strategic partnerships that enable grantees to work together, build relationships with one another, and share and learn as peers who are working toward the same goals.

Build Grantees’ Evaluation Capacity

Funders must support the evaluation of culturally tailored projects and broaden philanthropy’s understanding of “what works.” Investing in grantees’ data monitoring capacity improves organizations’ ability to collect and report on what matters most to them.

Develop Sustainability Plans

Funders should strive to make renewal funding available and develop thoughtful transition plans that include grantees’ self-identified capacity needs and outline what’s needed to support the long-term success of the initiatives and grantees.

Make Equity Real

Funders must be bold and focus on funding interventions that are tailored for specific racial groups, and ensure that the lived experience and expertise informs funder understanding of the work. We centered and supported Black women in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of all initiative activities so as to advance racial equity at all levels of implementing the work.

Download the Impact Report

Learn more about the process evaluation of the Women of Color Health Initiatives implementation over a three-year period, 2018-2021.

We awarded a grant to the National Black Women’s Justice Institute to work in partnership with Impact Justice and ETR to evaluate the women’s initiatives.

Our Thanks

This work would not have been possible without the partnership of the following organizations.

Re-Entry for Formerly Incarcerated Women Initiative

Time for Change Foundation, New Way of Life, Root and Rebound, PRAXIS, CEO

HIV/AIDS/STI Prevention Initiative

UCLA Semel Institute, WORLD

Evaluation Team

National Black Women's Justice Institute, Impact/Justice, Advancing Health Equity

Back to top