Together Toward Health: Supporting Communities Through COVID-19 and Beyond
California and many other states are experiencing an equity crisis: they are often unable to successfully reach communities of color most impacted by COVID and to provide them the information and access to vaccines we need to save lives and prevent the spread of COVID.
PHI’s Together Toward Health is changing that. We’re providing funding to more than 500 community based organizations across California so they can provide COVID prevention information, outreach to Californians in their primary languages (like Punjabi and Purepecha, an indigenous Nahuatl dialect, and dozens of languages) and host mobile pop-up vaccination sites at Black churches, in farmworker communities and more.
CBOs can’t do it alone. They are the trusted community networks, and Together Toward Health provides targeted funding to boost their efforts, coordinates and connects CBOs to local health departments, who help staff, supply and run vaccine clinics and education efforts, and supports the creation of job opportunities in communities devastated by the economic impacts of COVID. And it’s working:
- In Riverside County a farmworker site vaccinated 5000 farmworkers in just a week.
- A Long Beach effort effectively reached black seniors through a “Black and Well in the LBC” mobile vaccination clinic.
- A clinic at the Sikh Center outside of Fresno vaccinated nearly 1,000 Punjabi farmworkers in one day.
PHI’s Together Toward Health, a joint program with major 18 California philanthropic organizations, supports more than 500 community-based organizations (CBOs) statewide that serve as trusted experts for COVID-19 education, testing and vaccination access in their communities.
We are so very appreciative of the support we are receiving from PHI. With assistance from PHI, we are able bring vaccines to neighborhoods that are often overlooked. Last Saturday, we held a pop-up clinic at Jerusalem Baptist Church in Palo Alto. The Pastor there was very grateful because he said many think Palo Alto doesn't need help and therefore most of the County's resources are centered in San Jose and the south county area. But as he said, 'There are a lot of Black folks in Palo Alto who need resources too.' He was so correct! When we arrived to set up an hour and a half before opening, the line was already extending around the corner, and 85-90% of the people were Black and Brown (AA and LatinX).Alma Burrell
Roots Community Health Center
“As ethnic community-based organizations, we serve our communities holistically, regardless of the need. This is why the flexibility of these grants have been so critical for us, because when our people come to us for help, we will never say it’s not in our scope of work.”Amina Sheik Mohamed
Founding Director of the Refugee Health Unit, TTH grantee
Thanks to Public Health Institute for funding the work of the United Against COVID-19 coalition. Without you we wouldn't be ready to take on these important events for our most vulnerable community members.Building Healthy Communities Kern
Together Toward Health grantee
Even more than the investments, the *way* you have partnered has been invaluable to our efforts. You have made yourself available at every turn and every time we have needed you. You’ve been a terrific thought partner to us. And through this listening and working together, your investments have and will continue to leverage and be catalytic to the significant government resources devoted to this effort.Kate Anderson
Director, LA Center for Strategic Public-Private Partnerships
Guided by equity, Together Toward Health is supporting education, awareness and outreach to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, increase vaccine awareness and uptake, and provide workforce development strategies to strengthen economic resilience. By connecting CBOs to essential infrastructure and providing workforce development opportunities, Together Toward Health is laying the foundation for a strong community-public health platform to support resilient communities beyond the pandemic.
Together Toward Health is a joint initiative administered by PHI and created and funded through major philanthropic organizations including The Ballmer Group, Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Health Care Foundation, Crankstart Foundation, Genentech, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, Medtronic Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, The Sierra Health Foundation, Sunlight Giving, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, Tipping Point Community, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund and the Weingart Foundation. Fund development is ongoing and additional organizations are being considered for funding on a rolling basis.
#TogetherTowardHealth Grantee Successes
Thanks to Together Toward Health funding and support, grantees have coordinated access to get thousands of California farmworkers vaccinated, conducted outreach to elders about vaccine access and appointments, hosted online live Q&A sessions, trained outreach workers and system navigators, and more.
See how our Together Toward Health grantees are working on the ground as trusted experts, providing critical resources, vaccines and culturally-competent information to communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Grantee spotlight: The Desert Healthcare District & Foundation
The Desert Healthcare District & Foundation, a TTH grantee, works to advance community wellness in the Coachella Valley—a region where as many as 8000 agricultural workers gather food eaten in California and across the country. Most speak primarily Spanish or indigenous languages, so the Desert Healthcare District & Foundation is not only creating multi-lingual materials to provide critical information, but lifting up the trusted voices of community members. In this video, community member Conchita Pozar receives a COVID-19 vaccine and shares her experience, in the Purépecha language.
Grantee spotlight: El Sol
San Bernardino-based El Sol has a history of utilizing popular education strategies, like theatre and puppet shows, to educate and empower their community. Together Toward Health funds were used in part to support the production and development of this song and video, which offers an entertaining way to explore health issues and mobilize community members to take action and slow the spread of COVID-19. El Sol created working groups with their community health workers to interview members of the community to identify knowledge gaps, create lyrics, and come up with a video concept.
In just a couple of weeks, the Spanish-language video has had over 5,000 views and more than 190 shares through different media platforms. Health Departments in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties have promoted the video through their listservs and the Sierra Health Foundation shared the video with all of their COVID grantees. El Sol also created the "Time to Heal” COVID-19 song and toolkit, helping to guide community health workers and promotores to promote healing in their communities during this pandemic, which has also been viewed and shared thousands of times.
In summer of 2021, El Sol was recognized by the White House during the National Vaccine Month of Action, for their creative efforts to address COVID-19, and increase vaccine awareness and access.
Guided by Equity, Grounded in Communities
Across the state, Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted Black, Latinx, Native American, immigrant and low-income populations. Structural racism and other historical inequities create many of the conditions—multi-generational housing, barriers to affordable and accessible healthcare, greater exposure to pollution, higher levels of childhood and everyday stress, higher likelihood of being essential and outdoor workers, and others—that put people of color at greater risk for coronavirus and for the underlying health issues that make the virus more deadly.
Together Toward Health is helping to reduce COVID-19 rates in these communities in the short term, and building economic resilience and opportunity in the long term.
Targeting COVID Response to Communities that Need it the Most
Together Toward Health is committed to ensuring the broad cultural and socio-demographic diversity of California is reflected in the community-based partners that have experience engaging with disproportionately impacted communities.
The Healthy Places Index, a tool created by PHI's Public Health Alliance of Southern California, was utilized early on to identify a set of local health jurisdictions with immediate high priority needs for the first phase of outreach. The data included COVID-19 cases and case rates, demographic disparities in COVID-19 case rates, and measures related to the impact of community conditions linked to health and resilience. This resulted in 27 local health jurisdictions being prioritized, with others being added on a rolling basis.
Using the Healthy Places Index, Together Toward Health identified and prioritized the California communities most impacted by COVID-19. Next, we’re investing in what works: Getting resources and support into the hands of local CBOs that already have the relationships and expertise to create and deliver culturally-competent strategies and materials to their own communities. Together Toward Health is also serves as a collaborative learning network to support knowledge-sharing across communities.
By listening to, following and lifting up this local leadership—and putting money and resources directly into the hands of organizations that know what to do with it—Together Toward Health is not only helping to stop the spread of COVID-19, but investing in resilient communities and a healthier, more equitable future.
The best way to get information about COVID-19 and vaccinations to neighborhoods in need is through people and networks they already know and trust. By supporting community-based organizations in the hardest-hit communities, we will stop COVID sooner. And, our investments in neighborhood networks will support more connected and more resilient communities in the long run, addressing some of the historical disparities that created such a disproportionate burden in the first place.
Susan Watson, program director of PHI’s Together Toward Health
As coordinator of Together Toward Health, PHI brings deep expertise in partnering with state agencies and local health departments, successful collaborations with local health projects, community members and community-based groups across the state, experience developing information-sharing infrastructures for county-specific implementation, and program evaluation and adaptation capacity.
- 539 local California CBOs receiving funding through Together Towards Health
- 21 major philanthropic organizations in partnership with PHI
- $31.3M going directly to local CBOs to provide COVID relief & response