Exploring the connectedness of health in our communities and imagining a better future
December 21, 2021 | Issue #19
As we look back on 2021 and ahead to 2022, we see that struggle and celebration are often linked — two sides of the same coin. The pandemic is still with us, bringing hardship and hope. Families are hurting, and communities of color with low incomes are hit hardest. At the same time, there is undeniable momentum to solve these problems.
In this issue, we highlight how data can help pinpoint racial disparities and strengthen local solutions. The Fuller Project writes about immigrant women fighting for the rights of essential workers. We also feature Time for Change Foundation, which helps women and their children affected by domestic violence achieve self-sufficiency through housing and healing.
Blue Shield of California Foundation is excited to double down on efforts like these in 2022 and support organizations working to achieve health equity and end domestic violence in California. If these ideas inspire you, too, forward this newsletter to a friend. And you can always drop us a line at email@example.com
Director of Communications & Public Affairs
With better data, we can drive more equitable health outcomes
Without good data, it’s hard to know if and how we are making progress. In the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen how critical data are when lives hang in the balance. Data can illuminate inequity, showing us where to direct resources as we work to make California the healthiest state and end domestic violence.
As Samantha Artiga at Kaiser Family Foundation recently wrote, “Data are essential for identifying where disparities exist, directing efforts and resources to address disparities as they are identified, measuring progress toward achieving greater equity, and establishing accountability for achieving progress.”
That’s why research like “COVID-19 Mortality at the Neighborhood Level,” recently published in Health Affairs and reported by the Center for Health Journalism, brings hope for 2022 and beyond.
The researchers found that using census tracts, instead of ZIP codes, can help make more equitable public health decisions. Their data show that even in areas with the same economic disadvantages, Black, Indigenous, and people of color had much higher mortality rates during the pandemic than their white neighbors. Hyperlocal data like this can fuel targeted efforts to address disparities and begin giving everyone the same opportunity to live a healthier life.
Evaluating a way to break the cycle of domestic violence
A recent conversation between Foundation Program Manager Hilary Smith and Time for Change Foundation Executive Director Vanessa Perez and Founder Kim Carter highlights the power of community-level, two-generation practices in breaking the cycle of domestic violence.
Time for Change is part of a cohort of 12 organizations that are evaluating promising practices to prevent domestic violence. The Foundation has been funding the cohort since 2020 to build evidence for community-level practices that support two-generation prevention. The full cohort was just approved for one-year renewal grants.
Time for Change’s Positive Family Futures and Reunification (PFFR) program for Black and Latina women helps participants and their children unify, reconnect, heal from trauma, and build resilience to support domestic violence prevention across generations.
Asked about the early findings of the PFFR program, Perez said, “We have a saying at Time for Change: children are the priority. This program has identified for us just how critical children’s therapy is to the whole family. By implementing children’s play therapy, individual children’s therapy, and group therapy, we’re seeing how children are learning, growing, and communicating. With family therapy, we know that having a healthy mother is going to create a healthy family, but we’ve also learned when mothers see their children grow and heal from the trauma that they’ve experienced, it helps heal the mother as well.”
Catch the full conversation on the Foundation’s website.
Celebrating 2021 with hope for 2022
“As the world has gradually reopened this year, we celebrate the resilience and resourcefulness of California’s communities of color. Faced with stark disparities, they are both responding to the immediate COVID-19 crisis and building power to advance lasting economic, racial, gender, and health equity. Grantees like Alliance for Justice are equipping community-based organizations to be even more effective at advocating for the policies and resources they need to be healthy and safe. We’re eager to throw our support behind efforts like that across the state in the new year.”
— Richard Vezina, Senior Program Officer
“I’m inspired by our community partners who are organizing grassroots leaders seeking greater economic security for themselves and their families. It is powerful when these leaders discover the barriers they face are the result of systems and policies, not personal failings, and that they have the creativity and power to redesign them. This year we have seen student parents, with the CalWORKs Association, use human-centered design to imagine how CalWORKs and community colleges could better meet their needs. We have seen domestic workers advocate for basic health and safety protections, and design a new paid sick leave portable benefit that meets their unique employment situation. Their leadership shows us that health, gender, racial, and economic equity is possible.”
— Rachel Wick, Senior Program Officer
“This year, our partnerships illuminated new paths toward a society where safety is more than the absence of violence, where basic needs are met, and where sustainability and joy are the norm. Grantees like Alliance for Girls are broadening definitions of safety, shaping a future for the next generation that is rooted in abundance and belonging. Reimagine Lab partners are engaging communities of color to build a radical vision of inclusion, while PolicyLink and Alliance for Boys and Men of Color are creating coalitions to advance racial and gender equity and respond to the needs of survivors, children, youth and families of color.”
— Lucia Corral Peña, Senior Program Officer
Community empowerment during COVID-19
When Veronica Leal’s clients stopped calling at the start of the pandemic, she didn’t know what to do. Leal, 35, is a home cleaner who moved to the United States from Mexico when she was 16. As Leal described her experience to The Fuller Project, she worried about her ability to weather the pandemic’s economic fallout, and she wasn’t alone. Immigrant women have faced disproportionate hardships during the pandemic, with their unemployment rate remaining higher than American-born men and women throughout the pandemic.
What helped get her through was her connection to the community. It became a source of empowerment for Leal — participating in campaigns to fight for the rights of workers excluded from state government funds. Similarly, Goma Yonjan found new ways to support fellow nail salon workers. She facilitated food drives, raised funds to buy protective gear for her community, and organized workers via Zoom.
We have seen examples of communities banding together during COVID-19 here in California, particularly immigrant communities empowering each other to spread accurate information and stay safe. Earlier this year, the Foundation supported Lideres Campesinas to work with a cohort in responding to the needs of female farmworkers who were working in unsafe conditions and afraid to speak up for their rights.
“We work on bringing consciousness to our communities, bit by bit,” said Araceli Ruiz, a farmworker from Mexico. “By being involved in Lideres, we get stronger, our families get stronger, and our entire community is stronger.”
This month at Blue Shield of California Foundation
- We’re proud to announce our latest grantees focusing on tackling the root causes of health inequity and domestic violence, and ensuring that public health systems are more responsive to the needs of California communities of color. This package of 25 grants represents nearly $7.7 million toward making California the healthiest state and ending domestic violence.
- Sandra Clarke, vice president and chief financial officer at Blue Shield of California, has joined our Board of Trustees. With extensive board experience and a long career in global business and financial operations, Sandra will bring key insights and expertise to the Foundation.
- An important goal of redistricting is to give communities power and representation. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is accepting feedback and community input until Dec. 27 on its draft maps.
- Intimate partner violence is a public health problem that can be curtailed by systemic intervention. In a recent webinar, we discussed how Medicaid agencies can help prevent intimate partner violence and connect survivors with services to help them thrive. If you missed it, watch the webinar recording here.