Advancing Wellness: Expanding Education and Employment Pathways

California Wellness Foundation

Grant amount: Up to US $675,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Government Entity Nonprofit Indigenous Group College / University

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Research, Applied Project / Program, Training / Capacity Building

Location of project: California

Location of residency: United States

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The mission of The California Wellness Foundation is to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. Since its founding, Cal Wellness has awarded 8,265 grants totaling more than $950 million. 

Our Guiding Principles 

Guided by our mission, we pursue the following goals through our grantmaking: 

  • To address the particular health needs of traditionally underserved populations, including low-income individuals, people of color, youth and residents of rural areas. 
  • To support and strengthen nonprofit organizations that seek to improve the health of underserved populations.
  • To recognize and encourage leaders who are working to increase health and wellness within their communities.
  • To inform policymakers and opinion leaders about important wellness and health care issues.

Philosophy: Health Beyond the Absence of Disease

The Foundation's grantmaking is grounded in the social determinants of health research that states that where people live and work, their race and ethnicity, and their income can impact their health and wellness. It’s the Foundation’s desire to help “level the playing field” so that everyone has access to good-paying jobs, safe neighborhoods and quality health care services.

We begin by defining health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. As the World Health Organization has noted, characteristics of a healthy community include:

  • A clean, safe physical environment.
  • Provision for basic needs.
  • An optimal level of appropriate, high quality and accessible public health services.
  • High-quality educational opportunities.
  • A diverse, vital and innovative economy.

Expanding Education and Employment Pathways: What We Support

Education and employment are strong predictors of good health. Research indicates that a person’s health improves as his or her income level rises. Education is a pathway to better jobs, living wages and greater opportunities for individuals to provide for the health and wellness of their families.

Increasing Educational Opportunities for Resilient Youth

Increasingly, prospects for a healthy, fulfilling and self-sufficient life depend on a postsecondary education. Cal Wellness is committed to paths that increase access to, and completion of, an educational credential beyond a high school degree or GED certificate (whether that be through a four-year university, a community college or a career/technical/vocational program) for adolescents and young adults we define as resilient youth. Resilient youth are young people, ages 14 to 26, who are in, or have exited, the juvenile or adult criminal justice systems; are currently or were formerly in foster care; or are/were homeless.

Key Strategies

  • College readiness programs, such as campus-based support and vocational training
  • Capacity building for organizations providing social supports
  • Leadership development programs for youth at risk of not reaching their academic goals
  • Expansion and development of community college and higher education opportunities in juvenile and adult correctional facilities
  • Research and data collection
  • Advocacy for policies that support resilient youth who are pursuing higher education and vocational training

Target Populations

  • Resilient Youth: young people, ages 14 to 26, who are in, or have exited, the juvenile or adult criminal justice systems; are currently or were formerly in foster care; or are/were homeless.

Promoting Employment and Asset-Building Opportunities

Health is supported by access to sufficient income, but many Californians face barriers to achieving financial security that goes beyond meeting their basic needs. Our funding seeks to improve health outcomes by strengthening pathways to obtaining and retaining employment, and building financial assets. Cal Wellness funds comprehensive workforce development and asset building, as well as health organizations that address financial security as a health issue.

Key Strategies

  • Comprehensive workforce development programs that are tailored to one or more of the target populations below. Such programs would include sector-based job training; wraparound support services; placement of alumni into jobs with pathways to living wages, benefits and career advancement; and job retention services.
  • Efforts to promote and develop microenterprises, worker-owned cooperatives and social enterprises.
  • Strategies to strengthen and improve access to income supports, such as CalFresh, CalWORKS, the earned income tax credit and other tax credits, utility assistance and paid family leave.
  • Integration of asset building into health, human service and workforce development programs. Asset-building approaches may include financial coaching, credit repair, building savings and alternative financial products.
  • Cross-sector approaches that address financial security as a major determinant of health.
  • Public policy efforts to address improved wages and benefits, use of community benefit agreements, building of financial assets and other efforts to improve employment and income.
  • Public policy efforts to address discriminatory, deceptive and predatory financial practices and services targeting low-income people.

Target Populations

  • Boys and men of color
  • Formerly incarcerated adults
  • Resilient youth
  • Military veterans
  • Women

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • To further the goal of advancing the wellness of all Californians, Cal Wellness makes grants to:
    • Nonprofit organizations;
    • Public agencies;
    • Religious organizations; and
    • Tribal governments.
  • To apply for funding, applicant organizations must generally have a valid tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and be classified as a public charity, not as a “private foundation” under section 509(a). 


  • Cal Wellness will not consider organizations that discriminate by race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation or national origin, nor consider activities that exclusively benefit the members of sectarian or religious organizations.
  • Grants are not generally awarded for annual fund drives, building campaigns, major equipment or biomedical research.
  • Cal Wellness does not provide international funding or fund organizations located outside the United States.
  • The Foundation does not fund Section 509(a)(3) Type III non-functionally integrated supporting organizations.

About this funder:

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