It’s been 20 years since we first opened our doors with a mission to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. And what a journey it’s been!
Since our founding in 1996, The California Endowment (TCE) has awarded 21,514 grants totaling more than $3.1 billion to more than 8,800 organizations. On the surface those are just numbers but if you look at the impact of those investments over the past 20 years you will see it was money well spent. After 20 years these investments have led us to place of understanding where health really happens: where we live, learn, work and play.
And while we’re now laser focused on a systems change/policy change approach to address the social determinants that shape and influence our health in 14 geographically diverse communities through our 10-year Building Healthy Communities strategic plan, there were many important investments that preceded that approach and led us to the path on which we follow today.
This walk down memory lane seems appropriate now that we’re 20. It’s easy to forget the past when you’re so focused on the present and our 20th anniversary provides us with that opportunity. Here are but a handful of the highlights:
- Community Health Centers – These are the front-line health care responders to lower-income communities. They are an essential component to our health care system and provide care regardless of ability to pay or on a sliding scale based on your income. Since 1996, TCE has provided more than $120 million in grants and loans to strengthen capital, service and policy capacity in all of California’s Community Health Centers.
- Fluoridation – In 1998, TCE provided $15 million to the California Dental Association to leverage state law mandating fluoridation in communities with over 10,000 water hook-ups, resulting in more than 18 million Californians having access to fluoridated water.
- Cultural Competency/Language Access – More than 200 languages are spoken in California, the most of any state in the nation. Imagine going to the hospital for an emergency and you don’t speak the same language as your doctors and nurses. The potential for misdiagnosis and negative health outcomes are high in situations like that. Using TCE’s bully pulpit, grant funding, and strong partnerships, we led the battle for language access and cultural competency in clinical settings – public and private.
- Farm worker and Border Health – California ranks first in the nation for agricultural cash receipts, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to good health for the state’s farm workers. After the November 2000 release of the TCE-commissioned landmark report, Suffering in Silence, which found that our farm workers were suffering greatly from myriad health conditions and lack of access to care, TCE stepped up with $50 million in grants and a $31 million Program-Related Investment that made a difference in farm worker housing, working conditions and access to health services. Through the border health program, TCE launched Ventanillas de Salud to engage Mexican Consulates in California to support the health needs of resident immigrant families.
- Partnership for the Public’s Health – Recognizing the importance of building the capacity of California’s local health departments, TCE created a $37 million initiative in 1999 designed to support communities and health departments to work together to redesign local systems to protect and improve the public’s health in communities throughout California. This investment has yielded significant benefit in the receipt of multiple federal grants for California’s local health departments, recognizing their responsiveness to community and their capacity to work collaboratively to address the social determinants of health.
- Health Coverage and ACA Implementation – TCE responded to the ACA/Medi-Cal expansion opportunity with a $300 million special allocation, contributing to a 60% reduction in the number of uninsured Californians. A change in narrative has resulted in a 16% increase in the positive view of the ACA among Latinos. (Source: Univision Wave 2 Survey)
On Wednesday, May 17, past and current board members and staff join together for a day of celebration to look back and acknowledge these and numerous other noteworthy achievements over the past 20 years. And to all of our partners, thank you so very much for your support and the fine work you do every day to help improve the health of Californians. You are leading the way to a brighter and healthier future for our state.
İSi se Puede!
Click here to read 20 of the 20-year contributions of The California Endowment.
Watch our 20th Anniversary Video Journey to Health Equity below.