Adapting grant processes to advance equity: California Wellness Foundation

Written by: Lisa Ranghelli

Date: July 12, 2018

Editor’s note: The following is a Power Moves toolkit Power in Practice example.

“Over the last three months, we’ve made more than $6 million in grants to organizations working to both advance and defend wellness in California. For us, this has been an extraordinary experience of collective action. Our staff quickly organized to assess and respond to needs in the community; our board worked with us to accelerate our grantmaking process to address the most urgent needs; and our grantees across the state have swiftly engaged, providing critical services and advocating for change. I’m truly proud of the Cal Wellness team, but it’s our grantees who are the true heroes in the work we do together.” – Judy Belk, CEO, California Wellness Foundation (April 2017)

Tina Eshaghpour, director of organizational learning and evaluation at The California Wellness Foundation, noted that the foundation decided to revamp its internal procedures to enable it to disburse grants more quickly after the 2016 election. “We took cues from our grantees and implemented some new processes to expedite making core operating support grants to advance and defend wellness,” said Eshaghpour in an interview. “These times demand responsiveness and creativity, so our board approved new tools to enable us to move funding out the door more quickly.”  

She also observed that, previously, the foundation had developed a shared understanding of equity internally, which created the conditions for the foundation to be bold in both its grantmaking and leadership stance in response to the new political environment, such as issuing public statements challenging some of the president’s executive orders.

Lisa Ranghelli is senior director of assessment and special projects at NCRP and primary author of Power Moves. Follow @NCRP and @lisa_rang on Twitter, and join the conversation using #PowerMovesEquity! Read more case examples here.