The Board and staff at The California Endowment have spent the last year in discussion and conversation with community, grantees, colleagues and experts to explore what’s next, after the decade-long Building Healthy Communities (BHC) initiative. It is an exciting time, filled with appreciation for all that has been accomplished and reflection about how to build on the successes we have achieved together to ensure health for all Californians.

The California Endowment’s Board of Directors is very proud of what we have accomplished together during the past nine years and considers BHC to be a great success.  A detailed list of BHC accomplishments can be found here, and a few highlights are listed below.

  • Statewide policy and systems improvements
  • Expanded health coverage to uninsured and undocumented Californians.
  • School climate and discipline reforms that led to dramatic reductions in school suspensions statewide.
  • Improved policy focus on juvenile justice reform.
  • Statewide attention to racial bias and the challenges affecting boys and young men of color.
  • A Program-Related Investments (PRI) strategy that amplified and leveraged our grant making by increasing access to affordable fresh food, health coverage, and supportive housing across California.
  • Hundreds of local policy and system improvements at the county, school district, and city level.
  • Across the 14 BHC sites, more than 780 policy and systems wins and tangible improvements were documented in health access, land use, school discipline reform, democratic representation, and youth development and leadership.
  • The civic participation, activism, engagement, and leadership of young people across our state.
  • A powerful new narrative about community, place, health and inclusion of all Californians.

Through BHC, we learned that activism, advocacy, community organizing, and civic participation to build people power has a significant and meaningful impact on the community and environmental conditions that affect health.  The scientific evidence also affirms that agency, belonging, and civic engagement in a vibrant, inclusive democracy contribute to individual health and well-being. The converse is also true: stigmatization, oppression, marginalization, and racism all have trauma-based, detrimental health impacts.  A full discussion of the lessons we have learned through BHC can be found here.

Our goal, over the next decade and across the foundation, is to help create a healthy, inclusive and equitable California, building on the lessons we have learned and assets we have developed together. To guide this aspiration, our Board of Directors has adopted this vision and commitment statement based on our conviction and belief that this is the right course for us:

The California Endowment’s Vision Statement

We envision a California that leads the nation as a powerful and conscientious voice for wellness, inclusion, and shared prosperity.
Where the talent and genius of all young people are no longer left on the sidelines, but are central to the state’s future;
Where California invests in the wellness of all and assures meaningful opportunities for all, particularly the next generations, and those who have been excluded from opportunity because of discrimination, marginalization and stigmatization;
Where there is racial truth and reconciliation, justice and healing;
Where public institutions are responsive to, and reflective of, the will of all the people;
Where all have voice, and are empowered to participate in a robust democracy;
Where health destiny is not determined by a person’s ZIP code; ultimately making California the nation’s healthiest state, and a model that fulfills America’s true promise of equality and justice for all people.

Together we will work toward a California for All in the 21st Century.

In support of this vision, The California Endowment will invest in three bold ideas in the decade to come.  These ideas have been shaped by our last decade of listening to and engaging with young people and grassroots communities across our state.  These three ideas are:

  • People Power:developing young and adult leaders to work intergenerationally to raise up the voice of marginalized communities and promote greater civic activism as essential building blocks for an inclusive, healthier, more equitably prosperous state;
  • Reimagining Our Institutions:transforming our public institutions to become significant investors in, and champions of, racial and social equity, and in the healthy development and success of young people for generations to come;
  • A 21st century “Health for All” system:ensuring prevention, community wellness, and access to quality health care for ALL Californians.

These three bold ideas reflect our belief that California will be a healthier place to live and a model for the nation when it is free from social inequality and racial injustice.

About Building Healthy Communities

Building Healthy Communities is a 10-year, $1 billion plan of The California Endowment. In connection with statewide policy initiatives, 14 communities are taking action to make where they live healthier. They’re doing this by improving neighborhood safety, connecting individuals to quality health care, helping kids stay in school, improving access to healthy food and more. The goal: to create places where children are healthy, safe and ready to learn. Ultimately, we’re aiming at nothing less than a transformation in the way all of us think about and support health for all Californians.

You can find out more about Building Healthy Communities and Health Happens Here through The California Endowment’s website.

The California Endowment, as a part of its Building Healthy Communities Initiative, has launched 3 campaigns that will help achieve the outcomes above. It’s called: Health Happens Here

Health Happens with Prevention

It’s better to prevent diabetes than to treat it…to get a flu shot than to be out of work for a week…to lower cholesterol through healthy eating versus expensive medication. We all agree prevention is the best health care, and the new health law signed by President Obama starts with prevention.

Health Happens in Schools

Schools play a pivotal role in the physical, social, and emotional health of California’s children. It’s where our kids spend half of their waking hours, where they eat meals, get exercise, and where they are set on paths for healthy and successful lives.

Health Happens in Neighborhoods

How vibrant your neighborhood is can actually affect how well — and how long — you live. Medical research shows that communities with parks, public transit, and access to fresh foods actually reduce the risk of disease and support a healthier, happier life.

Here are the 14 places across California that are Building Healthy Communities (BHC):

  • Del Norte County
  • South Sacramento
  • Richmond
  • East Oakland
  • Southwest Merced/East Merced County
  • East Salinas
  • Central/West
  • Fresno City
  • South Kein County
  • Boyle Heights
  • South LA
  • Central Long Beach
  • Central Santa Ana
  • Coachella
  • City Heights

Building Healthy Communities North Star

Building Healthy Communities (BHC)

If you have specific questions about The California Endowment, please feel free to contact Diane Aranda directly at or visit our BHC website for more information about the 14 sites across California –

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