What We've Learned

A Decade of Learning

Over the course of the last decade, our Building Healthy Communities initiative committed to funding and partnering with 14 sites across California. We supported grassroots organizations and statewide partners in some of the most marginalized communities in the state as they built power to transform the local, regional and state-level systems impacting them every day.

The past decade was a journey, filled with many victories by our partners. This work exceeded every expectation–ultimately contributing to more than 1,200 policy changes, system changes and tangible benefits for our communities. Broken down into campaigns, our partners earned 552 wins for our neighborhoods, 343 wins for our schools, and 125 wins for prevention across our 14 chosen sites. To learn more about these victories broken down by site, please click here.

The past decade was also full of learnings for all of us. Looking ahead, we are taking the following lessons from our last 10 years together and applying them to every aspect of our work moving forward:

  • The power of youth and adult organizing to create significant changes in their communities and in Sacramento
  • Power is both a tool for change and a source of transformation for those who wield it
  • We must be intentional about investing in the full power ecosystem
  • There is no health justice without racial justice
  • We must look beyond policy wins to transforming whole systems to be more racially just
  • We need to create a more integrated organizational approach to maximize impact

We often refer to our work with simple ABC’s: Agency + Belonging = Change. When a person or group of people finds their agency, or voice, and when they belong to something bigger than themselves, they can create the structural change we all seek.

With this close to our hearts, we renew our commitment to transforming health and wellness in California with people power leading the way.

The Current Moment

It’s a tumultuous time for all Californians as the racial inequality our society is built upon has been laid bare. In the wake of COVID-19 and its disproportionate impact on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), the systemic racism many of us experience every day has surfaced prominently—from state-sanctioned police brutality resulting in widespread protests to the devastating effects of perpetual climate injustice. These crises illuminate what we have long known to be true: systemic racism permeates the lives we live and the air we breathe. It underlies every aspect of our quality of life—from our jobs, our neighborhoods, our schools, our interactions with others, to our disproportionate health risk, and our lack of accessible care.

Yet this time has also spotlighted bravery and resilience—from profound and unrelenting Black Lives Matter protests to essential workers showing up day after day to care for each other in a system that has failed to care for them.

The current moment, as well as what we’ve learned from our community leaders and grantees over the past 10 years, beckon us to address the root causes of health inequity so we can build a truly just and healthy California that works for us all.

Thank You

Shaped by the last decade of listening to and engaging with grassroots communities across our state, we understand that building power, at its core, must be centered on the human beings and communities who have been most negatively impacted by the systems we seek to change.

You are the stewards of this work. You are our teachers as we disrupt dominant and harmful narratives and replace them with new, transformative ones. You are our guides as we shift the center of power away from the beltway and boardrooms and toward residents coming together to make our communities and our institutions just and healthy for all—not just the privileged few.

Thank you for continuing to be our leaders. We share your vision for what is possible when people have power, and we stand alongside you as you light the way.

Next: Our Vision