How power-building brings California closer to health equity

Carolyn Wang Kong A multiracial crowd stands together

Why does a funder focused on health equity and domestic violence invest in power-building? And what does power-building mean? We asked the leaders of statewide efforts building power among communities of color, and the words they used included: self-determination, agency, opportunity, and hope. As a longtime funder of health equity and domestic violence prevention, we know those are precisely the things that we call “protective factors” — things that can prevent the bad from happening or help you heal when it does, things that are inextricably rooted to cultural strengths, and that result when you have power.

Blue Shield of California Foundation has invested $5 million in building the power of Californians of color over the past two years. But we have not taken a blanket approach. As a funder, we know the impacts of health inequities and domestic violence on communities of color. We know that communities of color suffer at different, yet disproportionate rates. We also know that the opportunity to heal, prevent, and thrive, once harm or poor health is experienced, is not evenly distributed in our state. 

That’s why we have supported the California Black Freedom Fund, the Latino Power Fund, and Activate California. Each statewide effort is rooted in their communities’ lived experience and designed in ways that take into consideration the complexity of the impacts of generations of structural racism and othering that has not only created negative and false narratives but served to diminish inherent cultural strengths involving health and well-being. The work to be done in each community is different.

  • The California Black Freedom Fund is unapologetically naming how systems have failed the Black community and is building and realizing a vision for the systems that will serve all of us better.
  • The Latino Power Fund knows there is strength in numbers. They are bringing leaders and communities together to advance a policy agenda that will not only improve the health and well-being of the state’s largest racial group, but all Californians.
  • Activate California is building a movement to ensure that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are seen, heard, empowered, and united. They are resourcing the mobilization of new changemakers who will write our state’s next chapter.

Each effort has different approaches, yet the outcomes each one seeks for California are the same. Self-determination. Agency. Opportunity. Hope.

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