Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund

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Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund

As the pandemic rages on, California must invest in addressing the root causes of health inequities and racial injustices by directing resources to communities that have long-standing health inequities that have only been exacerbated by COVID-19. In response, a group of organizations has convened to advocate for creating a HE&RJ Fund that would provide funding directly to community-based organizations, clinics, and tribal organizations (CBOs) to identify the most pressing health and racial justice issues in their communities and develop solutions to address them.

Health inequity is a public health crisis driven by racism. Throughout California, Latino, Black, American Indian and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and other people of color, as well as LGBTQ and low-income residents, endure unhealthy community conditions and face barriers in access to health care that result in poorer health outcomes and shorter life spans. As the devastating and unjust health and social impacts of COVID-19 have demonstrated, maintaining the status quo is no longer an option. With an historic budget surplus, California has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to begin dismantling structural racism, rebuild communities, and become the nation’s leader in advancing health equity and racial justice.

By addressing both the most critical health disparities and diseases impacting vulnerable communities as well as by innovatively addressing the social determinants of health that dictate life and health outcomes, our state can ensure that Californians that have experienced the worst health inequities due to the color of their skin, their sexual orientation and/or their income bracket can live full and healthy lives.

We propose a Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund to (1) transform community conditions and institutional/government systems to promote health equity and racial justice and (2) reduce specific health and social disparities.

This proposal is supported by: Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL), Black Women for Wellness Action Project, California Black Health Network, California Black Women’s Health Project, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, Public Health Advocates, Public Health Institute,  Roots Community Health Center, and Roots of Change.

Part of the funding will support organizations to take action to reduce health inequities at the local level by using policy/systems/environmental changes to address the social determinants of health such as those outlined in CDPH’s COVID-19 Healthy Equity Playbook, including: 1) housing security, 2) food security & healthy food systems, 3) economic stability, 4) schools and childcare, 5) community violence & hate crimes, 6) youth criminal justice, and 7) health promoting built environments & environmental justice. Stakeholder engagement and community leadership will ensure that project focuses and strategies meet local needs.

Actions to promote health equity at the community level will support innovative approaches to promote racial justice via systems and governance changes such as: 1) partnerships between cities and community advocates to develop community participatory budgeting processes, 2) disaggregation of data on race/ethnicity to better understand variation in health risks and outcomes, 3) creating and cultivating racial justice training for government leaders and policy makers so that decisions and program implementation reflect community priorities and advance racial equity.

Community-based organization, clinics, and tribal organizations would be eligible for funding.  Dedicated funding will support rigorous evaluation of funded initiatives, including building capacity of funded organizations to monitor program implementation and demonstrate outcomes that promote health equity and racial justice. 

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