Celebrating Our Partnerships
This year, Blue Shield of California Foundation was selected as the 2018 Outstanding Organization by the Association of Fundraising Professionals – California Capital Chapter. We are deeply honored by the selection and the following powerful nomination by Beth Hassett, Chief Executive Officer of WEAVE, a crisis intervention services nonprofit in Sacramento County. The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence also assisted with the nomination. This post is drawn from WEAVE's nomination letter and has been edited for length.
The fearless and bold vision of Blue Shield of California Foundation builds upon years of investing in organizations to address health equity, serve low-income Californians, and build the capacity of organizations to serve survivors of domestic violence. The Foundation's funding history has emphasized investments in improving health care access and quality, working to end domestic violence, and responding to urgent needs related to health and violence.
The Foundation seeks to learn from its investments through a variety of capacity-building and evaluation strategies. It has pioneered several leadership cohort programs that include leaders from both the nonprofit healthcare and the domestic violence fields. These efforts focused on building smaller cohorts of leaders that would come together to explore systemic challenges and to share learning. Additionally, the Foundation integrates a variety of formal evaluation efforts to measure the effectiveness of its support. The learnings from these efforts have informed the strategic direction of the Foundation.
A key example of the Foundation’s investments, capacity building, and evaluation is its Domestic Violence and Healthcare initiative. Through this initiative, WEAVE partnered with the Sacramento Native American Health Center (SNAHC) to explore the intersections of domestic violence and healthcare with an emphasis on the experiences of American Indian and Alaska Native survivors. The three-year pilot program included building a buddy system that linked organizational leaders at every level, evaluating policies in each agency, and embedding domestic violence advocates and counselors within SNAHC to provide immediate access to victims who disclosed domestic or sexual violence. Culturally responsive prevention and intervention techniques enhanced WEAVE programs, as well. Because of the pilot program, WEAVE was able to secure state funding to sustain the embedded advocates and counselors and provide onsite legal assistance at SNAHC. Additionally, SNAHC has incorporated WEAVE's services into additional funding requests.
These local successes are part of a larger set of statewide findings. The Foundation recently released a report on the program that demonstrated a variety of positive outcomes including:
- Healthcare providers are twice as likely to screen for domestic violence after participating in the initiative.
- Patients are more likely to report domestic violence when screened and provided with information that their healthcare provider was a trusted and safe resource.
- 82% of domestic violence clients indicated an increased understanding of the effects of domestic violence on personal health after being seen at a partner healthcare organization.
- Domestic violence advocates and healthcare providers are more likely to make referrals when part of a collaborative.
- A 50% increase in the number of healthcare providers likely to discuss domestic violence with a patient.
Because of Blue Shield of California Foundation's investments in domestic violence and healthcare clinics and the related evaluation efforts, the Foundation revisited its strategic direction. In 2016, the Foundation informed domestic violence agencies that it would be moving away from the core operating support funding by 2018 to pivot to a new strategic direction. Foundation staff took care to advise organizations two years in advance to allow ample time to prepare for a funding shift, while reassuring organizations that its grantmaking would continue but in a different form.
The pivot in the Foundation’s focus shifted to emphasizing root causes and intervention strategies and expanded who it saw as assets in ending domestic violence.
Through years of investment in the domestic violence field and creating linkages between domestic violence services to healthcare, the Foundation learned that addressing domestic violence by only funding domestic violence agencies siloed efforts and would not be successful in reducing, let alone eliminating, the prevalence of domestic violence. The new strategic direction prioritizes community-based explorations of challenges, assets, and opportunities, and convenes all partners who have influence on the lives and well-being of survivors of domestic violence. This includes other social service agencies, homeless coalitions, churches, government entities, and other funders. The initiative seeks to develop long-term collaborations that can secure sustainable funding from a variety of sources to create long-term change in the prevention of domestic violence and provide the resources needed to help victims end violent relationships and move from a place of crisis to stability, and ultimately thriving.
As the Foundation's strategic direction pivoted to creating community driven responses to ending domestic violence, it also called on communities to redefine leadership in response to domestic violence. This will create an opportunity for WEAVE to share and defer leadership opportunities, encourage new approaches and create opportunities for new forms of leadership that would not have been possible through siloed approaches. As WEAVE prepares its application for future funding from the Foundation, it has the freedom to reimagine what a community response to ending domestic violence should look like and creating space for important voices to shape the community's future.