Advancing Wellness: Health Policy and Strengthening the Sector

California Wellness Foundation

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Grant amount: Up to US $600,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Nonprofit Indigenous Group Government Entity

Funding uses: General Operating Expense, Education / Outreach, Research, Project / Program, Training / Capacity Building

Location of project: California

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:



The program areas in this portfolio support efforts that improve policies that advance equitable systems change. In addition they seek to strengthen the infrastructure and sustainability of the nonprofit sector.

Advancing Public Policy

We seek to support efforts that improve policies or conditions for underserved Californians using public policy activities such as education, advocacy, civic engagement and analysis. Ultimately, these grants must address issues from a systemic perspective.

What We Fund

Each application for funding must fit under one or more of these strategies. Please review the target populations and grant examples listed here to see if your work is aligned with our current priorities. 

  • Education, advocacy and civic engagement that inform policymakers about policies and programs that address the health of underserved Californians but fall outside of Cal Wellness’ defined portfolios. 
  • Research and analysis on health issues that affect California to inform the field and build awareness. 
  • Capacity building for organizations that advocate for public policies designed to improve Californians’ health. 

Target Populations

All projects we fund must support one or more of the following populations:  

  • Organizations and coalitions engaged in advocacy efforts. 
  • Research institutions and think tanks. 
  • Grassroots leaders, community organizers and coalitions.

Strengthening the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Sector

In this program area, we fund the nonprofit sector as a whole, seeking to support its current work and long-term sustainability. We make grants to infrastructure organizations that support the wide range of missions, activities, and requirements of the sector.

Equitable Leadership: 

Investing in nonprofits' long-term sustainability also requires that we pay attention to board and staff composition constituent engagement.  

Our country is increasingly diverse. Yet, research shows that fewer than 20 percent of executive directors or nonprofit board members are people of color. Therefore, in each of our programs and strategies, we prioritize support for the sector to diversify leadership. Organizations that both prioritize applying a health equity lens to their programs and consider ways to bridge the racial leadership gap will have an increased likelihood of funding. 

What We Fund

Each application for funding must fit under one or more of these strategies. Please review the target populations and grant examples listed here to see if your work is aligned with our current priorities. 

  • Support cohort-based fellowships and leadership development programs.
  • Invest in organizational capacity-building for social change organizations working to improve Californian's health, with an emphasis on strategies to help organizations become more diverse, equitable and inclusive.
  • Increase visibility of and funding for efforts to ensure the philanthropic sector responds to the health needs of underserved communities in California.
  • Support efforts to increase diversity of nonprofit and philanthropic staff, leadership and boards.
  • Invest in convenings to support learning and skill building.
  • Conduct research and analysis on health issues and trends that help inform the field and build practical knowledge among nonprofit and philanthropic leaders.   

Predominant types of grantees: 

  • Nonprofit capacity-building organizations . 
  • Nonprofit technical assistance providers . 
  • Philanthropic organizations . 

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


  • Your organization must be a nonprofit public agency, religious organization or tribal government.
  • You must have Section 501(c)(3) status and be classified as a public charity.
  • Your organization can’t discriminate by race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation or national origin.
  • Your application is not for an annual fund drive, building campaign, major equipment or biomedical research.
  • Your proposal would benefit those living in California.


  • Cal Wellness does not provide international funding or fund organizations located outside the United States.
  • Advancing Public Policy
    • We fund very specific projects and activities. We do not fund: 
      • Policy efforts that are focused on a single disease/illness (e.g. Alzheimers).  
      • Policy efforts that are specific to a population and do not have a focus on health equity or social determinants of health. 
      • Lobbying. 
      • National efforts in isolation (if there’s no focus in California). 
      • Standalone conferences and individual research projects that are not linked to ongoing strategy support, and we do not fund individual degrees and fellowships. 
  • Strengthening the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Sector
    • We fund very specific projects and activities. We do not fund:  
      • Capacity building needs of individual organizations; instead, we fund cohort-based programs . 
      • Capital projects. 
      • Organizations whose mission does not prioritize strengthening the nonprofit or philanthropic sector as a whole . 
      • Nonprofits who are receiving general operating support funding from other Advancing Wellness program areas .