Investing in solutions that promise to make California the healthiest state

Blue Shield of California Foundation today announces $6.2 million in grants to support our state’s communities of color and families with low incomes, speeding progress toward our mission of making California the healthiest state and ending domestic violence. Our grants this quarter focus on strengthening economic security and mobility, breaking the cycle of domestic violence across generations, and helping public systems build capacity to better serve communities’ needs.

In approving these 18 grants at its Sept. 15, 2021 meeting, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees reiterated our commitment to tackling the root causes of health inequities and domestic violence in California, namely economic and gender inequity, and racism. Our determination to change systems that perpetuate these problems will lead to improving the lives of people most affected. In order to do that as quickly as possible, the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy invests in solutions with potential to expand impact to more people.

“We are excited to be supporting grantees who are spreading and scaling up their most promising approaches, to reach more families and empower entire communities in the populations that we serve,” said Debbie I. Chang, MPH, president and CEO of the Foundation. “At the same time, we invest in innovations that can lead to the next opportunities to spread effective solutions to prevent domestic violence and health inequities.”

One example of a partner that is multiplying its impact in California is the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which is expanding its Steps to Family Child Care Success (STEPS) program supporting immigrant and refugee family child care providers in San Diego County. The Foundation believes that if child care businesses are thriving, workers’ wages, benefits and job quality will improve, along with the health of those workers, and the families they care for.

After inviting caregivers to talk about what they need to build profitable child care businesses, IRC developed STEPS: a 14-week, in-language, culturally appropriate entrepreneurship coaching and technical assistance program. With the Foundation’s support, STEPS is growing its language and cultural capacity to reach additional immigrant and refugee communities.

“Through development and strengthening of family child care businesses, the entrepreneurs we work with in the STEPS program can improve the health of children in their care and allow other families to pursue professional and educational opportunities,” said Mitch Johnson, economic empowerment director at IRC.

Another Foundation partner that is building on success in one community and expanding to another: Homeboy Industries. Known as the largest gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the country, Homeboy Industries is now replicating, in Los Angeles County, a restorative justice pilot that promotes healing from domestic violence involving all family members and the community as well as the harm doer. Healing is a powerful form of prevention, breaking the cycle of domestic violence that can span across multiple generations.

“We are grateful to receive this grant from Blue Shield of California Foundation in partnership and support of our domestic violence programming,” said Thomas Vozzo, CEO of Homeboy Industries.

“Our restorative approach to healing means not only an individual’s acknowledgement of harm done; it includes the rehabilitation of the individual to avoid future harm, leading to foundational change and transformation. Working in restorative spaces to break the intergenerational cycles of violence that surround those we walk alongside at Homeboy Industries is empowering, and an approach we know is effective.”

The Foundation is also working to align systems, including local government in California, with the needs articulated by the communities they serve. Particularly in communities of color that have low incomes, public health systems can do more to prioritize equity in their policies. A grant to the Public Health Institute will support its initiative that focuses public health on racial equity and engages people with lived experience in the policy process.

“For far too long, the narrative that individual responsibility is primarily responsible for health outcomes has gone unchallenged, despite longstanding calls by community advocates to treat violence and health inequities in a holistic, systemic manner,” said Julia Caplan, Public Health Institute’s Program Director for Health in All Policies. “We are grateful for this grant that supports us in deepening our alignment with community partners to help state government make transformative – and necessary – connections between racial equity and violence prevention.”

"The Foundation will continue to focus on prevention as a powerful lever to achieve better health outcomes for people of color with low incomes in California who are at risk of domestic violence and health inequities,” said Foundation President and CEO Chang. “By working together with our partners in communities across the state, we ultimately will help improve the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of Californians.”

Learn more about all of this quarter’s grantees below and in our grants database.

General Operating Support
To provide general operating support to Freefrom, a nonprofit that works to dismantle the nexus between gender-based violence and financial insecurity so that survivors have the opportunity to thrive and live free from abuse.
General Operating Support
To provide general operating support to Golden State Opportunity, a nonprofit dedicated to ending poverty by providing all Californians with the tools to build financial well-being and thrive.
Steps to Family Child Care Success
To implement and evaluate an expansion of an entrepreneurship program for family child care providers to the Iraqi community in the El Cajon community in San Diego County.
Evaluating Steps to Family Child Care Success
To evaluate a culturally responsive entrepreneurship program for family child care providers from immigrant and refugee communities in San Diego.
General Operating Support
To provide general operating support to Western Center on Law and Poverty, which promotes economic and racial justice by litigating, educating, and advocating around housing, public benefits, healthcare, and economic security law and policy on behalf of Californians experiencing poverty.
Improving and Assessing the Effectiveness of Batterer Intervention Programs
To support continued implementation of and technical assistance to a six-county batterer intervention pilot program, implement a new program curriculum, and conduct an in-depth analysis to determine whether alternative batterer intervention programs better prevent recidivism in cases of domestic violence.
Advancing Restorative Justice Responses to Prevent Domestic Violence
To support Homeboy Industries' capacity to create and implement restorative justice programming that prevents domestic violence, promotes healing for individuals and families, and builds organizational capacity to scale restorative justice practices for formerly incarcerated populations.
Influencing Cultural Narratives to Advance Racial, Gender, and Economic Justice
To support The Center for Cultural Power to develop narratives that build public will to understand and address the root causes of domestic violence in California.
General Operating Support
To provide general operating support to ValorUS to support its work with California organizations and communities to prevent and end sexual violence through advancing equity, advocating for prevention resources, and promoting community healing.
Increasing California Nonprofits’ Advocacy Knowledge and Capacity
To build the capacity of Foundation grantees and other California nonprofits to advocate for policies that improve health equity and prevent domestic violence by providing workshops, tailored technical assistance, and written resources (in Spanish and English) on regulations and laws on lobbying and advocacy.
The Health Journalism Fellowship
To support two California reporters to participate in a national health journalism fellowship, which builds on expertise in solutions journalism on complex health issues, including the social determinants of health and root causes such as racial, gender, and economic inequality that lead to health inequities among Californians.
Bold Vision: Advancing Policies and Strategies to Transform Systems That Impact Youth
To support Bold Vision, a multi-sector initiative to develop community-driven policy priorities and strategies to change systems that impact vulnerable youth of color in Los Angeles.
The Funders Forum on Accountable Health: Scaling Accountable Communities for Health Models
To provide continued support for The Funders Forum on Accountable Health that advance accountable communities for health models by advocating at the federal level for government agencies and in California partnering with the California Accountable Communities for Health Initiative to support the accountable communities for health model via funding and capacity building.
Health in All Policies: Deepening a Racial Equity and Domestic Violence Prevention Focus Across State Agencies
To support the California Health in All Policies initiative in centering racial equity in all its work and integrating violence and domestic violence prevention strategies within and across state agencies.
California Health Journalism Fellowship
To provide training, mentorships, fellowships, and support for in-depth and engaged solutions journalism on complex health issues, to a diverse set of California reporters.
Launching Activate California
To support the launch of Activate California, a new initiative that aims to establish new narratives, build leadership, and establish infrastructure to drive policy change that will positively impact the health and well-being of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in California.
General Operating Support for AAPI Data
To provide general operating support to AAPI Data, a nationally recognized publisher of demographic data and policy research on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
General Operating Support
To provide general operating support to Kaiser Health News to support its work to produce and distribute in-depth journalism on a wide range of topics, including COVID-19 response and its impacts, health equity, prevention, the social determinants of health, and the gig and care economies' impact on health, among other issues.
General Operating Support
Caring for the Whole Child Convening
Racial Equity and Justice Work
Capacity Building and Staff Development
Dr. Beatriz Maria Solis Memorial Endowment

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