Image courtesy of the California Wellness Foundation

Image courtesy of the California Wellness Foundation

For advocates of the California Wellness Foundation, establishing the Advancing Wellness grants program means that years of research will be implemented in a forward-thinking, cost-effective way, while still staying true to its mission and philosophy. According to their website, this research has concluded that location, race or ethnicity, and income all play a definitive role in the health and wellness of people in a given community. For many, this evidence confirms suspicions backed by personal experience.

“Advancing Wellness, at its core, addresses the factors that most impact the health and wellness of Californians. Where they live or work, their economic standing, and their race or ethnicity all matter,” Judy Belk, president and CEO of Cal Wellness, says.

Founded in 1992, the California Wellness Foundation has worked extensively to promote safe and healthy living for the people of this state. By awarding millions of dollars in grants to specific organizations, Cal Wellness hopes to achieve its main goal of tackling health problems in California’s inadequately served communities. Though prevention is its top priority, treatment for health issues, as well advocacy and education are also areas of interest.

This new program, launched on October 1st of this year, is divided into three grant-giving portfolios: Bridging the Gaps in Access and Quality Care; Expanding Education and Employment Pathways; and Promoting Healthy and Safe Neighborhoods. The Opportunity Fund, a program working parallel to the three portfolios, has also just been introduced.

While each program has its own distinct mission, the whole of their actions will hopefully have a greater impact on the communities they serve than if they didn’t collaborate. This is especially true in areas where the issues these programs address overlap. Promoting Healthy and Safe Neighborhoods, for example, uses an unorthodox strategy of promoting the arts in order to prevent local violence and form what it calls “social cohesion”. This sort of effort would then work in tandem with another that would, for instance, advocate for better rehabilitation of youth leaving juvenile correctional facilities. Coming at a problem from more than one angle will prove to be a cornerstone of Advancing Wellness’ future success.

“The quest for wellness isn’t a level playing field, so we’re focusing our attention on those with the least access to resources needed to live healthy lives,” Belk adds. And if this strategy is as successful as expected, every Californian, not just those receiving direct help from the program, will see the benefits. The goal of this new initiative is not to give neglected communities an advantage, but rather a level playing field, a fair shot, and a hand up.

To learn more about California Wellness Foundation partnerships and grant opportunities, go to