Standing Firm and Moving Further Forward

Posted by: Peter Long, Ph.D. President's Letter

This past year, against a backdrop of unprecedented change, the Foundation had a historic opportunity to put our values into action. With a bold, new grantmaking strategy and strong partners by our side, we stepped forward. Recognizing urgent threats to vulnerable communities, we provided immediate support to protect those most in need and took our first steps toward creating new solutions and opportunities for the future, and future generations. More than ever, it’s clear that it’s time to “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

From recent survey findings, we know that California’s immigrant communities are currently experiencing extraordinary levels of stress. Even before the Attorney General rescinded asylum status for survivors of domestic violence in June 2018, there was a dramatic drop in reports of relationship abuse among Latinos. As fear of repercussions regarding their immigration status grew in the community, calls to the police diminished significantly. The Los Angeles Times found that in the first six months of 2017 there were declines in Latinos reporting about domestic violence across Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco — ranging from 3.5 percent to 18 percent — while rates among non-Latinos remained largely unchanged.

The impact of this type of stress on immigrant families is an emergent health concern that led us to co-fund new research with the Kaiser Family Foundation. The outcomes of that research show us that discrimination and constant fear create dangerously high levels of stress for individuals, families, and whole communities, which is deeply troubling. If the Department of Justice’s recent directive means that those experiencing domestic violence are more afraid to seek help, it’s also likely that they no longer feel safe enough to access health care, social services, or even send their kids to school. Thankfully, we have seen that our partners and grantees are actively working together to help children and families continue to receive these essential services.

This collaborative response inspired us to expand our grantmaking to support new cross-sector efforts that connect broad networks of leaders, advocates, community members, and service providers to help prevent violence, promote well-being, and protect our progress. We’re also investing more resources in prevention in order to lay the building blocks for a safer and healthier California. This shift has caused us to search for new ways to interrupt patterns of violence and the early behaviors and circumstances that lead to poor health. Part of this work is Reimagine Lab, which has brought together sixteen multi-dimensional leaders from across California to design new approaches to prevent domestic violence. We look forward to sharing their innovative ideas and recommendations later this fall.

For now, I take heart in the strength that binds us, the resilience that inspires us, and the determination that drives us. Despite current circumstances, when we refuse to accept that which threatens to divide us today, we hold the power to create a better tomorrow; we become the changemakers — leading the way to what we wish to see in the world.

In unity,

Peter

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health