The California Endowment is blooming–from 14 sites into four regions; from incredible grantees to even more incredible grantees; from the last 10 years into the next 10
Power building, particularly among the communities in California that have been most harmed by structural racism, is a dynamic and ever-evolving movement and we must evolve with it. We have learned much over the last decade about the tremendous power of being deeply committed to specific places. We also recognize that shifting demographics, compelling needs, and dynamic opportunities have arisen in other communities throughout California. Our commitment to power-building, particularly among communities facing high levels of inequality and resultant poor health outcomes, requires us to be cognizant and responsive to a changing policy environment and to how communities are organizing and building power within and across places, issues, and cultural and political identities.
Looking ahead, we will build out from the original 14 Building Healthy Communities sites to places within four broader regions with the most acute health and racial inequities and where power-building partners are leading transformational change.
With this, we will work to align local, regional, and statewide grantmaking in order to provide ongoing and consistent support to an ecosystem of partners who are reshaping the power terrain in California. This geographic expansion answers the call of our partners and the communities we've walked alongside the last 10 years to be both rooted in local community partnerships and responsive to new opportunities for growing the movement for health and justice for all; it’s building a bigger "we" from the foundation we've laid together.
Systems of oppression held in place by existing power structures, deeply held cultural norms, and dominant narratives have enabled an unequal distribution of power and resources within our society. Through a system of laws, policies, cultural norms, and practices that profoundly shape opportunities, social and economic conditions, and generational quality of life, certain groups are advantaged over others.
With this understanding of the root causes of injustice, we commit to centering our funding around a community-organizing approach—not on disconnected campaigns or policy wins. We also recognize that organizing and base building alone are insufficient to influence those who have the authority, resources, and power to make the kinds of decisions that will impact the lives of historically excluded people.The movement for health equity across California will take all of us working together to create a power-building ecosystem centered around, and working in support of, movement building led by people who have been most negatively impacted by the systems they are seeking to change.
This broader ecosystem of organizations with diverse capacities, skills, and expertise—and with reach from the local to regional to state levels—is required to move us toward the big goal of health and justice for all. Such an ecosystem centers organizing and base-building with a recognition that organizations with other strategies—like narrative change, advocacy, and research—are also central to an effective statewide power-building infrastructure.
Moving into the next 10 years
We will look to this ecosystem and continue to invest in power building—explicitly focused on racial justice and eliminating anti-Black racism. Together, we will strive toward the goal of ensuring that California has a robust, intergenerational power-building ecosystem for advancing health, justice, and racial equity by the year 2030. We will achieve this by:
We acknowledge that these goals are ambitious. We are compelled to articulate a desired future that motivates us to reach beyond what may seem feasible from today’s vantage point. Indeed, these goals reflect a profound belief in the power of today’s movements for racial, economic, and social justice to reimagine what is possible and translate that vision into strategies for transformation.
The following goals build upon the last ten years of Building Healthy Communities and reflect our understanding of the root causes of health inequities in this country. A primary root cause found in every system in California is racism and the system of white supremacy that continues to structure benefits and opportunity to people based on skin color. We acknowledge the imperative of more deliberately challenging this country’s legacy of racial hierarchies if we are to achieve our mission of health for all. We understand too that systems of oppression and exclusion are intersectional and reinforcing. Thus, while we lead with race in our analysis, we intend to elevate community organizing approaches that embrace our interdependence and fight for all historically excluded people.
We also recognize that privatized market-based strategies have failed to equitably advance our collective well-being. We believe that our shared strengths, transformed into political power, can and will achieve appropriate publicly held solutions. These solutions aim to repair the harm of past and current policies, create the conditions for healing within and across communities, and bring about a greater investment in people to secure a better future for all Californians. Countering dominant narratives of hyper-individualism, exclusion, and privatized solutions to collective problems, we commit to working alongside our partners to reinforce the power of our democracy to move us toward a more perfect union.
Poor health outcomes result from a continuing legacy of policies and practices, both within communities and in the healthcare system itself, that discriminate, segregate, and exclude people from the resources and opportunities to be healthy. The system is fragmented and uncoordinated, lacks a holistic approach connecting healthcare with public health and other culturally appropriate community wellness resources, and has little accountability to patients or communities. The system’s workforce is highly unrepresentative of the state’s population, its financing is misaligned- incentivizing volume over value or health outcomes – and a strong power imbalance exists between physicians and patients and communities.
By 2030, as a result of organizing, advocacy, and civic participation, all Californians will reside in communities with an equity-focused health system that is accountable for achieving well-being and health for all, by advancing racial equity, prioritizing prevention, addressing community conditions, strengthening resident governance, and advancing economic justice through a culturally competent workforce.
Rather than serving as a driver for equitable outcomes, California’s public school system has consistently fallen short of its potential to create a more level playing field. The school system’s failure to recognize its roots in white supremacy culture and complicity in reproducing harm in communities of color has led to persistently inequitable outcomes over generations and left a debt owed to those communities most deeply harmed. Our unwillingness to fully invest in our education system to ensure that any child who walks through its doors has all the support and opportunities needed to thrive, has only compounded this debt. As a result, our schools are frequently misaligned with community priorities and spend their precious few resources on compliance and control, thus breaching their duty to adequately educate all of California’s children and fueling a school-to-prison and deportation pipeline.
By 2030, as the result of power and leadership of students, families, and their allies, every public school student in California—regardless of race, income, identity, or neighborhood—will be educated in a racially-equitable, inclusive, healing-centered, learning environment that meets the full array of their social, emotional, and physical needs to prepare them for life-long health, well-being and civic leadership.
A growing body of research has proven that contact with the justice system has a deleterious, intergenerational impact on the social determinants of health of individuals, families and communities. Deeply entrenched structural racism has facilitated the disproportionate representation of people of color in the system and consequently their experience of harm from it. Yet, narratives that conflate systems of punishment and safety continue to shape the political, social and economic conditions that substantiate and incentivize increased public and private investment in the drivers of mass incarceration at the expense of prevention, restorative and health-promoting resources for communities with the greatest needs.
By 2030, as a result of a powerful grassroots movement led by those most impacted by mass criminalization and incarceration, California will realize substantial, measurable progress in divesting from incarceration and immigration enforcement, and reallocating those resources toward health and well-being, by:
The control and disposition of land, natural resources, labor, and capital intersect in place, and this conjuncture, as seminal drivers of community change, have resulted in gentrification, displacement, over-investment/disinvestment, environmental degradation, undesirable land use, and increased health inequities across California. The growing conflict between the role of capital and its impact on the health of communities is rooted in the original atrocities of our country—slavery and genocide—committed in the name of economic advancement. To make progress toward systemic transformation that gets at these roots in the next 10 years, we must correctly and explicitly name this problem, and orient our efforts toward building enough power to ensure that human health and dignity and the sustainability of our planet are put before private profit.
By 2030, as a result of a powerful grassroots movements of those most harmed by health inequities, California will achieve significant, measurable progress toward democratizing community and economic development in service of establishing fundamental rights regarding the health and resiliency of people and communities by:
In order to move forward with people power at the helm, in the spring of 2021 we will invite our grantees and community leaders to share their collective knowledge and ideas with us through a community-engagement process. This input will allow us to refine the thinking we have put forward here, shape our understanding of new places for our work, and inform the strategies that will move us forward on the path to racial and health justice in California at a deliberate and judicious pace.
Meanwhile, The California Endowment is committed to creating an internal structure that facilitates our alignment in support of our grantees and partners. We have nearly completed an internal restructuring that will allow us to be more integrated across our local, regional, and statewide work and to strengthen our own racial-equity practices. More to come as we move forward toward justice together.
Ultimately, no force is as strong as the power of people united in their vision for change. Thank you for joining us on this journey so far, and for leading the way as we work by your side to transform systems, lift all voices, and create a California where justice and health go hand in hand – no matter who you are or where you live.