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Disbursing $14.7 Million in Weeks, so Communities Could Mobilize Vaccinations in LA’s Highest-impacted Areas

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WeVax+

Highlights

Two women in medical masks tabling at an outdoor vaccine event

Facing an urgent need to support trusted, local organizations and clinics who were best equipped to provide COVID-19 vaccine access in their neighborhoods, Los Angeles County turned to PHI to help swiftly disburse vital funds. PHI’s agreements team helped lead the effort to quickly distribute funding to 40 local organizations whose work helped vaccinate neighbors in some of California’s hardest-hit neighborhoods.

$14.7M funds distributed to local organizations in one month

25 agreements finalized in 2 weeks

40 local organizations funded

As COVID-19 vaccines became available to wider swaths of Los Angeles County in the spring of 2021, some neighborhoods were still experiencing barriers to access. Data from LA County in mid-April showed lower-income areas and communities of color had lower vaccination rates than wealthier, white areas. About 26% of people in Southeast LA, made up primarily of low-income people of color, had accessed vaccinations by early April, compared to 53% of those in wealthier areas.

Counties often have resources available to communities, but getting them out the door can take time–even in a pandemic. As an independent non-profit, PHI’s nimble central infrastructure makes it easier to respond more rapidly and get support out more quickly. 

On April 15, 2021 PHI contracted with the California Government Operations Agency to serve as the implementing partner to distribute $14.7 million to trusted, local LA community health centers, mobile clinics, pharmacies, home health and other local organizations who could provide and promote vaccines in their communities.

Within two business days, PHI’s agreements team had begun contacting all of the local groups, and before the end of the month all 25 of the community groups who had provided their organizational information had received their funding agreements. By May 3, local groups began receiving the funding to support their vaccine efforts.

Ariel Isaacson
We streamlined internal approvals and developed a payments plan that allowed us to prepare for wire transfers in advance and expedite payment. Once an agreement was finalized, we could often initiate payments the same day.

Ariel Isaacson, Director of PHI’s Office of Research & Agreement Administration

The PHI agreements team took several other steps that set the stage for the swift rollout of funds:

  • In early 2021 the team acquired new database software allowing them to streamline outreach to local organizations. They created email campaigns to track engagement, providing the tools to take appropriate follow-up actions for each organization. 
  • The team also created online forms organizations could use to enter their information and synched the forms with the new database, which streamlined agreement drafting and internal processing. 
  • To reduce the burden on the local organizations, the agreements team customized the online forms for each group, eliminating the need for them to re-submit information they had already shared with funders. 

In all, funds were quickly disbursed to 40 Los Angeles organizations – and the state asked PHI to coordinate outreach and funding to organizations in an additional 29 counties. 

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