Advancing Wellness: Opportunity Fund

California Wellness Foundation

Grant amount: Up to US $600,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Nonprofit Indigenous Group Government Entity

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. 


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.

Opportunity Fund: What We Support

Cal Wellness recognizes that the health and wellness of Californians is improved when the state’s nonprofit organizations are strategic, stable and managed by strong, knowledgeable leaders. The Foundation is committed to making the philanthropic field more responsive to the communities we serve and to funding efforts that increase philanthropic resources from new and emerging donors in California.

Advancing Public Policy

Grantmaking in this area will complement Cal Wellness’ efforts to address issues from a systemic perspective. Cal Wellness seeks to support efforts focused on improving policies or conditions for underserved Californians using public policy activities such as education, advocacy, civic engagement and analysis.

Key Strategies

  • 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 

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

Strengthening the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Sector

Nonprofit entities often do not have the resources to build their internal capacities, which limits their ability to fulfill their missions. Cal Wellness funds efforts to strengthen the nonprofit and philanthropic sector as a whole. By funding organizations that are capable of sharing expertise in management, staffing, structure and operations — as well as an understanding of larger issues affecting the field — we envision the entire sector working more effectively and collaboratively with the ultimate goal of improving health and wellness for all Californians.

Please note: Nonprofit organizations seeking funding for capacity-building efforts, strategic planning and executive management training for their own organizations are encouraged to submit requests for core operating support through the portfolio that best fits the work they are doing: Bridging the Gaps in Access and Quality Care; Promoting Healthy and Safe Neighborhoods; or Expanding Education and Employment Pathways. Grants within this grantmaking area are intended for organizations working to strengthen the nonprofit and philanthropic sector as a whole.

Key Strategies

  • Efforts that provide nonprofit organizations, specifically those working to improve Californians’ health, with human resource management and training; financial management assistance; communications training; board and organizational development; fundraising training; leadership development; convenings and networking; and strategies to help them become more diverse, equitable and inclusive.
  • Research and analysis on health issues and trends in the health care, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors that help inform the field and build practical knowledge among nonprofit and philanthropic leaders.
  • Work that ensures the philanthropic sector is responsive to the health needs of underserved communities in California, such as working to increase diversity on nonprofit boards; regranting in underserved neighborhoods; providing technical assistance with regard to leveling the playing field for all Californians; and policy advocacy on behalf of the sector.

Target Populations

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

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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