Announcing $8.9 Million in New Grants This latest round of grants seeks to advance health equity, address structural inequalities and create opportunities for upward mobility in Cali

November 22, 2021—The California Wellness Foundation today announced $8.9 million in grants to advance health equity in California including grants for wildfire disaster relief, equitable access to safe water, support for women of color at risk of HIV/AIDS, and bold new initiatives for advancing economic security in low-income communities.

Eradicating Poverty and Strengthening the Middle Class 

We awarded $700K to support the movement for the guaranteed basic income (GBI). We were a seed funder for the initial successful demonstration project in Stockton, CA. Now, with more than a dozen new demonstration projects underway in California, we are funding the infrastructure, technical assistance and rigorous research processes needed to demonstrate the value of these pilots. We are also watching Los Angeles County with interest. Holly Mitchell and her colleagues on the county board of supervisors are working to implement one of the largest and most sophisticated GBI pilot projects, which would test the impact of providing unconditional cash aid to at least 1,000 low-income residents over the course of three years.

“We have to advance health equity in a way that honors people’s dignity and acknowledges their inherent worth,” said Judy Belk, Cal Wellness president and CEO. “The guaranteed basic income does that. No-strings-attached, direct cash aid works. It eradicates poverty, while respecting people’s autonomy and agency to make the best financial decisions for themselves and their families.”

GBI has the potential to transform the economic health in communities, especially Black and brown communities, which have been historically excluded from economic gains. Fund for a Guaranteed Income (also known as Compton Pledge), will use its grant to implement their pilot program in the City of Compton. Mayors for a Guaranteed Income will continue building a movement of mayors committed to creating an income floor in their cities. Meanwhile, Young Invincibles will continue outreach, education and public policy efforts in communities of color and among youth with a special emphasis on the GBI.

Supporting Women of Color at Risk for HIV/AIDS 

For the past decade, HIV/AIDS has been inordinately harming women of color, in particular Black women. In line with our commitment to advance the reproductive health of women of color, we made core operating support grants to T.H.E. Clinic Inc., Black Women for Wellness and Girls Incorporated of Alameda County, which will allow them to continue providing integrated prevention and early intervention services for women of color at risk for HIV, AIDS and STIs in Los Angeles and Alameda counties. Among other services, the organizations will provide medical and behavioral health treatment, risk reduction counseling, and case management, as well as support with medical appointments and laboratory tests, counseling, HIV medication, health insurance premiums, housing and food.

Assisting Californians Impacted by Wildfires 

Natural disasters continue to destroy communities and displace residents throughout California, disproportionately impacting Latino communities who are twice as likely to live in areas prone to wildfires than the rest of the U.S. population.

To support communities impacted by large-scale disasters, this quarter we awarded $225K to three organizations, including the El Dorado Community Foundation, which will provide emergency financial relief through their Caldor Fire Fund, the North Valley Community Foundation Fund, which will provide emergency response services, financial assistance and mental health support and the Upper Room Dining Hall, which will provide meals, personal protective equipment, and immediate assistance to wildfire evacuees and individuals experiencing food insecurity in El Dorado County.

Advocating for Solutions to California’s Drinking Water Crisis 

Due to a worsening drought and decades of unsustainable farming practices, access to safe, reliable and affordable water is a challenge for many California communities, especially low-income Latino farmworker populations in the Central Valley.

We awarded $930K to five organizations to protect the water quality and quantity in communities that are experiencing water insecurity and fund projects that include community organizing, advocacy, coalition building and innovation.

For example, Central Valley Agroecology Network will pilot innovative models that support climate resilience and foster economic, environmental and physical health in the rural communities in the San Joaquin Valley. And Pueblo Unido CDC and Comite Civico del Valle will sustain their environmental justice community organizing and public policy efforts to create healthier communities and increase access to clean drinking water in Eastern Coachella Valley and the Imperial County, respectively.

“Our grant partners are using every tool imaginable – policy advocacy and organizing, coalition building and education, direct service and direct cash aid – to right social wrongs, address structural inequities and create an economy and a health care system that works for all Californians,” said Alex M. Johnson, Cal Wellness interim vice president of programs. We’re grateful to these organizations doing critical work in and behalf of our communities and are honored to provide funding for their efforts.”

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