Advancing Wellness: Promoting Healthy and Safe Neighborhoods

California Wellness Foundation

Grant amount: US $30,000 - US $500,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Government Entity Nonprofit Indigenous Group

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Applied Project / Program

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.

Promoting Healthy and Safe Neighborhoods: What We Support

Wellness is promoted when neighborhoods are economically and environmentally vital, socially connected, civically engaged and safe. When any of these factors is missing in a community, it can compromise health outcomes and increase incidences of violence.

Fostering Healthy Environments

A healthy neighborhood includes clean air, safe drinking water, access to healthy food, and parks and other spaces for community gatherings and recreation. But people in underserved communities often live, work and play in unhealthy environments and have little input into local planning and other decision-making processes. Cal Wellness seeks to ensure that community residents are engaged in civic life so that effective systems, infrastructures and resources are in place in low-income communities to address long-standing inequities in the distribution of resources and assets. While there are many other elements that go into creating a healthy neighborhood, the issues we have chosen to prioritize are environmental justice, equitable access to healthy food, and park equity for low-income communities.

Key Strategies

  • Community organizing, civic engagement and public policy advocacy to promote environmental justice in underserved communities.
  • Efforts to increase access to healthy food in underserved communities by encouraging corner stores in underserved communities to sell fresh, healthy food; helping to establish new grocery stores, farmers markets and community gardens; supporting healthy food incentive programs at farmers markets and grocery stores for low-income individuals; and promoting comprehensive nutrition and healthy food education for adults.
  • Creation of new or improved parks and recreational space in underserved communities through community engagement and public policy efforts to address inequities in park access and to improve social connectedness.
  • Using healthy land use planning tools to make progress on the issues of environmental justice, healthy food access, and equitable park access.

Target Populations

  • Low-income communities of color

Promoting Violence Prevention

The evidence is consistent and compelling that underserved communities — where poverty, incarceration and re-entry, limited educational opportunities, and easy access to guns are present — bear a disproportionate share of the public health burden of violence in California. Cal Wellness’ goal is to build resilience in diverse communities across the state so that all Californians have the opportunity to live in safe and healthy neighborhoods. Cal Wellness commonly funds research, public education campaigns, community organizing and advocacy to prevent violence, particularly gun violence; and efforts that prevent violence in underserved neighborhoods, with a particular emphasis on youth and adults who have been exposed to trauma.

Key Strategies

  • Research and public policy analysis on gun violence — as well as education and outreach that is based on research — to effect policy changes at all levels of government.
  • Community organizing and policy advocacy efforts to reform the juvenile and adult criminal justice system.
  • Gang prevention and intervention activities, such as: exposing youth and adults to positive alternatives; support services for individuals re-entering their communities after incarceration; preventing retaliation; and counseling services for trauma-exposedyouth and adults.
  • Leadership programs for youth and adults, including incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, victims of violence, leaders of violence prevention programs, and concerned citizens working to establish a culture of nonviolence.
  • Communications strategies that use the arts, documentary film or social media to highlight effective violence prevention programs and strategies.

Target Populations

  • Boys and men of color
  • Women and girls of color
  • Formerly and currently incarcerated youth and adults
  • Formerly gang-involved youth and adults

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).
  • An organization with headquarters outside of California may apply for funding for work that is focused on California.


  • In addition, the Foundation does not fund Section 509(a)(3) Type III non-functionally integrated supporting organizations.
  • 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.

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