Press Release

Together Toward Health Launched by Leading Funders to Support COVID-Impacted California Communities

Thirteen major philanthropic foundations have pooled resources to launch Together Toward Health, which will connect with community based organizations to expand workforce development opportunities for Californians most impacted by COVID-19, and create and amplify public outreach efforts to reduce its spread.

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Thirteen major philanthropic foundations have pooled resources to launch Together Toward Health, a $20 million initiative to stop the spread of coronavirus and strengthen health and resilience in California’s most impacted communities. Supporting foundations include: The Ballmer Group, Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Health Care Foundation, Genentech, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The Sierra Health Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Weingart Foundation. 

The Public Health Institute (PHI) will coordinate Together Toward Health, which will connect with community based organizations to expand workforce development opportunities for Californians most impacted by COVID-19, and create and amplify public outreach efforts to reduce its spread. The California Endowment, the Conrad Hilton Foundation and the California Wellness Foundation were responsible for early leadership and planning support for the initiative, and the overall fund goal is to reach at least $25 million to help address the vast needs in communities at-risk and hard hit by COVID-19.

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 aims to help reduce COVID-19 rates in these communities in the short term, and build economic resilience and opportunity in the long term. PHI will partner with local health departments and community-based groups who are familiar with COVID-19 challenges in their communities, to enhance and broaden efforts to improve the health of everyone in the county. This may include engaging community members and organizations in workforce opportunities to support local health departments, and providing trusted, relevant and accurate health education and outreach within their communities.

The program will also create and build on existing public awareness and information sharing efforts. Together Toward Health will help tailor messaging that addresses the different needs of specific communities, including areas where critical businesses such as agriculture employ workers who are at heightened risk for COVID-19. 

“Our work with California’s philanthropic leaders in this urgent effort aims to address the health inequities that have been exposed and exacerbated by COVID-19,” said PHI President and CEO Mary Pittman, DrPH. “All Californians, and especially Latino, African Americans, and others who face disproportionate risks from COVID-19, need support, trustworthy information, and evidence-based health interventions. Our most impacted communities need to be represented and embedded in our solutions to address the pandemic, and they need a path to economic vitality once it has ended. Working closely with community based organizations will help us assure appropriate local engagement.”

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Public Health Institute (PHI) is partnering with Kaiser Permanente to strengthen and support California’s contact tracing efforts in clinical settings. Multilingual teams embedded in clinical settings will provide support and access to resources to help people self-isolate; a workforce development initiative means contact tracing support workers are prepped for healthcare careers.

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The State of California will use the California Healthy Places Index (HPI) tool, created by the Public Health Institute’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California, as part of its new Blueprint Health Equity Metric. The HPI is a mapping tool visualizing the cumulative impact of community conditions on life expectancy at birth for nearly every neighborhood in California.

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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. 

PHI has been leading work across the west coast to address the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, PHI launched its Tracing Health program in Oregon and Washington, hiring and deploying a multi-lingual workforce within weeks, successfully helping counties in those states move forward on the path to safer reopening, and building a more diverse public health workforce. In August PHI announced a $63 million project with Kaiser Permanente to support contact tracing, health education and outreach efforts in California.

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