Clarity from Crisis: An Equitable Recovery is the Only Recovery

By Monica Lozano and Miguel A. Santana

The American Rescue Plan Act signed in March directs $151 billion to California. These funds will play a critical role in our state’s recovery from the pandemic and recession—and in ensuring future prosperity. But this recovery will only be successful now and sustainable long-term if state leaders are guided by equity, both in allocating funds and in decisions we make moving forward. In leading organizations fighting for greater racial, social, and economic justice, we have seen first-hand what it costs our state when we treat equity as a “nice to have;” it is not a cost California can continue to bear.

But what does equity look like in practice? It means focusing dollars in the hardest-hit communities and cooperating across systems and institutions. We must not treat relief efforts as a one-time back-fill to budget cuts, but an opportunity to fundamentally reimagine and improve our systems to serve us all— including and especially those who face the biggest barriers to accessing good health, education, and jobs.

Focus dollars in communities hardest hit.

COVID-19 forced California into a rapid response to address a homelessness crisis that has been building for decades. Programs that sprung out of the pandemic like Project Roomkey and Project Homekey demonstrated that we can act quickly to respond in a coordinated fashion at scale. Additional federal dollars must be used with this same urgency to connect immediate relief to long-term systemic change. As the Committee for Greater LA shared in our No Going Back report, focus needs to be placed on building permanent supportive housing at scale and providing rent and mortgage relief to keep families housed. Ultimately, we need to fundamentally reimagine a systems-level approach to addressing and preventing homelessness and building housing that prioritizes the needs of Black, Indigenous, and Latino Californians who have been hardest hit by this cascade of systems failures.

Education is an essential pathway to opportunity—and a robust and inclusive economy and society. California’s college students are supporting parents, caring for children, and working full-time. Too many live in poverty and are housing- and food-insecure. We are heartened to see that $5 billion in recovery funds were directed toward colleges, with the majority going directly to students. When College Futures Foundation joined with peer funders last April to launch the California College Student Emergency Support Fund, we learned first-hand the imperative to focus direct benefits where there is greatest need —particularly among community college students and students responsible for supporting their families —and for holistic support beyond tuition. We are glad to see our state government propose muchneeded continued direct aid to students, and urge those administering funds to be guided by equity.

Cooperate across systems.

Where individual institutions may decide how to spend relief dollars, they should coordinate and leverage others’ investments.

Tackling the digital divide should be a priority for California; making headway will require us to work across systems and align federal, state, and private investments. Lack of equitable access to broadband and devices has deepened divides in access to jobs, education, health and financial services, and social connections for many—acutely so this past pandemic year. To make a dent, we need to ensure that emergency broadband dollars are equitably focused and that programs not just targeted but truly accessible to those who need them most.

The only recovery that will be successful is one that is equitable and grapples with the legacy of racism in our systems. The challenges facing people of color and low-income communities aren’t new. We must collectively own the problems and contribute to solutions.

As we actively work towards recovery, policymakers, philanthropists, and institutional leaders must take bold action to reimagine how our systems work for people. California won’t truly recover until we finally serve those hardest hit by the pandemic. Let’s ensure the crisis spurs us towards justice and an equitable future.

Monica Lozano is President and CEO of College Futures Foundation, an organization working in partnership across the state to catalyze systemic change, increase college degree completion, and close equity gaps so that an educational path to opportunity becomes available to every student, regardless of zip code, skin color, or income. She recently served as a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery. Miguel A. Santana is President and CEO of Weingart Foundation, an organization that partners with communities across Southern California to advance racial, social, and economic justice for all. He also serves as Chair of the Committee for Greater L.A.

Message from Miguel A. Santana, President & C.E.O.: Reflection

April 29, 2021

I remember the first time I felt like an American.

On my cross-country trip to New England to begin my graduate program, I stopped at Port Huron, Michigan at an address handwritten on the back of a black and white photograph of my paternal grandparents. In the 1920s it was the home of Victoria and José Santana. These two young immigrants from the central coast of Mexico settled in the furthest edge of the U.S.-Canadian border to pursue a better life. A decade later, they were forced to return to Mexico with their American daughters in the face of the anti-Mexican hostility that emerged at the onset of the Great Depression.

Standing in front of this small wood-frame house, in a town built by steel mills that fed a burgeoning automobile industry, connected me to the American history that seemed to belong to someone else.

While I was born in this country, I always knew that for people like me, being American came with a condition. At an early age I was told that in this culture being American often equals being White. That was the message when I witnessed my father being held at gunpoint by White police officers for being a “wetback” in a town he supposedly did not belong in. I was reminded of this condition when my own daughter was reported to law enforcement by a White neighbor because he did not believe that she lived in the community where she grew up. For people of color, being American often has its limitations.

Today, in the rise of violence against Asian Americans, we are reminded of the unequal conditions placed on who gets to enjoy all the privileges of being an American. The presumption of who can be an American is also seen in the visceral hate spewed against migrant children seeking protection in a country they believe will embrace them, as this nation has for generations of refugees who crossed the Atlantic before them.

I was reminded what it feels like to be an American when the verdict for the murder of George Floyd was announced.

American history has demonstrated that fairness for a Black man in the judicial system is not to be expected. In this case, the American legacy of racial injustice was interrupted by the American value of equal justice.

As a foundation committed to equity and racial justice, we know that this moment did not happen in isolation. It took the work of activists, community organizers, youth, and people of all backgrounds to demand that justice be served for a Black man. It is their courage and the work of our nonprofit partners that gives us hope that we can still become a nation where everyone receives the same rights and privileges promised to all Americans, without condition. This remains a fight worth fighting. We are proud to be part of this struggle with them.

Miguel A. Santana
President & C.E.O.

April 2021 News

Message From Miguel A. Santana, President & C.E.O.: Reflection

I remember the first time I felt like an American.

On my cross-country trip to New England to begin my graduate program, I stopped at Port Huron, Michigan at an address handwritten on the back of a black and white photograph of my paternal grandparents. In the 1920s it was the home of Victoria and José Santana. These two young immigrants from the central coast of Mexico settled in the furthest edge of the U.S.-Canadian border to pursue a better life. A decade later, they were forced to return to Mexico with their American daughters in the face of the anti-Mexican hostility that emerged at the onset of the Great Depression.

Standing in front of this small wood-frame house, in a town built by steel mills that fed a burgeoning automobile industry, connected me to the American history that seemed to belong to someone else. To read Miguel’s full message, click here.

 

Announcing the 2021 John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows

The Weingart Foundation is excited to announce the second cohort of the John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program, which is designed to strengthen the network of next-generation social justice and racial equity leaders in Southern California. The program seeks to build the region’s social movement infrastructure by supporting a robust network of leaders committed to realizing a long-term vision of justice and equity for all.

Fourteen emerging leaders have been selected to engage in transformative leadership development training, peer learning and coaching over an 18-month period. Congratulations to our new cohort! Click here to view the list of 2021 Fellows.

 

Los Angeles Must Commit to an Equitable Recovery

Over the next few years, all levels of government are expected to receive an unprecedented infusion of federal dollars that could total more than $3 billion between the county and city of Los Angeles. These funds present an historic opportunity to address our shared legacy of systemic racism by making direct investments into the communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

The Weingart Foundation calls on every institution—in the private sector, social sector, government and philanthropy—to dig deep and find ways to help create and fund the type of transformative change that is so urgently needed. Click here to read the recent op-ed.

 

Private Equity Impact Investing for Supportive Housing

Philanthropy has helped house thousands of people experiencing homelessness using traditional funding methods. We at the Weingart Foundation believe, however, that our region simply cannot make meaningful progress in support of our unhoused neighbors without finding new ways to house more people faster and cheaper.

In response to this need, the Foundation recently invested in the S.D.S. Capital Group’s Supportive Housing Fund (S.H.F.), a first-of-its-kind private-equity impact fund that finances new, financially-sustainable permanent supportive housing for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Instead of drawing on limited public sector sources that take tremendous time and effort to secure, projects like S.H.F. rely on private-sector capital. This model enables S.D.S. to close on projects in 30-60 days, scaling development volume and velocity—with nearly all the units expected to cost less than half the cost for similar projects in Los Angeles. Click here for more information on the S.D.S. Supportive Housing Fund.

SEIU Local 2015 and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, and Weingart Foundation Partner  to Deliver Vaccines To Communities of Color

SEIU Local 2015 and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, and Weingart Foundation Partner to Deliver Vaccines To Communities of Color

Advocates Work To Deliver Vaccines to Underserved Communities Lacking Vaccine Access

Los Angeles, CA — March 31, 2021 — Today, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2015 — California’s largest union representing 400,000 long term caregivers — St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, a network of federally qualified health centers serving more than 450,000 patient visits each year, and the Weingart Foundation announced a partnership that will deliver 60,000 vaccines a week to underserved communities in Los Angeles County. The partnership kicked off today with a mobile vaccination clinic, at which 400 community partners and members of SEIU Local 2015 received the vaccine.

In Los Angeles, which has been ravaged by Covid-19, Latinx and Black residents of Los Angeles County are twice as likely as white residents to die from COVID-19. Additionally, high-poverty neighborhoods in Los Angeles County have the highest rates of COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 related deaths. Meanwhile, across the country, communities of color have been vaccinated at slower rates than wealthier, white communities. This partnership seeks to bridge the gap by bringing the vaccine directly to those communities and utilizing community outreach programs to dispel misinformation or concerns about the vaccine.

This project grows out of a collaboration between St. John’s, a network of 19 federally qualified health centers located throughout South Los Angeles and Compton, and SEIU Local 2015’s “We Can Do It!” Campaign, which aims to defeat the COVID-19 virus by promoting mass vaccination with fact-based information and improving access to the vaccine for members and the clients they serve. The partnership is made possible by the Weingart Foundation as part of the Foundation’s recent commitment to provide $1 million in rapid response support to a number of community clinics working to vaccinate working class Black, Latinx and other communities of color.

These community-based groups have come together to address the critical need for a grassroots approach to deliver the vaccine directly to underserved communities of Los Angeles County. The project will build on St. John’s current successful model, which employs its health centers that are conveniently located throughout the service area on major bus lines, as well as vaccine-PODs (Points of Distribution) in the parking lots of several community-based agencies. This has created accessible distribution points for these communities.

Through the program, members and officials of SEIU Local 2015 will make outreach to communities and provide information about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine as well as assist with scheduling appointments. The members of the union, who serve the most vulnerable communities in the state, are predominantly women, immigrants, and people of color. Members of the union, their clients, and the community they serve will have access to the St. John’s vaccine-PODs.

“As the vaccine reaches more and more individuals, we must ensure that our communities remain at the forefront of distribution efforts,” said April Verrett, President of SEIU Local 2015. “We are thrilled to announce this partnership, and be able to bring the vaccine directly to the communities that need it most. Our members have seen the worst of this pandemic and we are using our full force to protect the communities in which we serve.”

“We are honored to partner with SEIU 2015 and the Weingart Foundation to create this vaccine equity pilot with 6 additional high-quality and mission-driven community health centers that will touch every corner of Los Angeles County,” said Jim Mangia, President of St. John’s. “This unique partnership between philanthropy, labor and community-based health centers will guarantee that hundreds of thousands of people in vulnerable and underserved communities will be vaccinated!”

“Community-based organizations, like St. John’s, continue to be at the forefront in expanding vaccines in impacted communities of color,” said Miguel Santana, President and CEO of the Weingart Foundation. “This innovative partnership between St. John’s and SEIU 2015 will provide life-saving doses to hundreds of thousands of community members across LA County.”

This massive vaccine initiative is being implemented in partnership with six other federally qualified health centers, located in under-resourced communities of color: Venice Family Clinic, El Proyecto del Barrio, East Valley Community Health Center, JWCH, The Children’s Clinic and South Central Family Health Center.

The Weingart Foundation has also played a key role in raising a total of more than $1 million from the philanthropic community for the partnership. Eight other foundations have provided support to date, including the Annenberg Foundation, The Broad Foundation, the California Community Foundation, Cedars-Sinai, Health Net, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

ABOUT SEIU LOCAL 2015
Representing over 400,000 long term care workers (home care, skilled nursing facility, and assisted living center workers), SEIU Local 2015 is the largest union in California. Its members are as diverse as the state’s population but united in their commitment to caring for California’s most vulnerable: seniors and the disabled.

ABOUT ST. JOHN’S WELL CHILD & FAMILY CENTER
St. John’s Well Child and Family Center is a network of nonprofit federally qualified health centers (FQHC) providing medical, dental and behavioral health services to more than 450,000 patient visits at 19 health centers and 3 mobiles throughout South, East and Central Los Angeles. St. John’s is the largest FQHC COVID vaccine provider in the country, having vaccinated over 120,000 low-income residents of color in Los Angeles.

ABOUT THE WEINGART FOUNDATION
The Weingart Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation that partners with communities across Southern California to advance racial, social, and economic justice for all. Our vision is a dynamic and effective social change sector that is creating equitable systems and structures needed to achieve justice. Founded in 1951, the Foundation has to date granted over $1 billion to organizations, strengthening their efforts in human services, health, education, and community power building. In addition, the Foundation builds networks and collaboratives with philanthropic, public sector, and community leaders to advance equity and justice together.

March 2021 News

Expanding Vaccinations in Impacted Communities of Color

Over the past several weeks, the Weingart Foundation has provided $1 million in rapid response support to a number of community clinics that are working around the clock to vaccinate working class Black, Latinx and other communities of color. Community-based organizations continue to be at the forefront in pushing for vaccination allocations in impacted communities of color, engaging in outreach and education, and fighting relentlessly against systemic barriers designed to exclude those who most need these life-saving doses.

We are proud to support an innovative partnership between a coalition of clinics led by St. John’s Well Child and Family Center with S.E.I.U. Local 2015 to vaccinate 60,000 community members across the county per week. The Foundation has also played a key role in raising $1 million from the philanthropic community for this project. In addition, we are supporting vaccination efforts in the Southeast L.A. cities and providing unrestricted operating support to a number of key clinics in underserved neighborhoods across the region, including in South L.A., the Antelope Valley, Central and East L.A., and the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys. It is only when the working-class communities of color most impacted by the pandemic are made safe and whole that we will be able truly emerge from this time.

 

Empowering Pacific Islander Communities – Nonprofit Spotlight

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities have been deeply impacted by the pandemic, facing economic impacts, sickness, and death at high levels that exposed deep and ongoing inequities. We are proud to highlight the work of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (E.P.I.C.), a partner based in Los Angeles that is doing critical work to respond to immediate needs while building community leadership. To read the E.P.I.C. Spotlight, click here.

 

Staff Leadership

We are pleased to share two recent staff changes at the Foundation. Joyce Ybarra has been promoted to Director, Grant Operations, and in this role will take over the management of the Foundation’s day-to-day grantmaking. Previously our Director of Learning, Joyce has extensive experience as a grantmaker and manager. She first joined the Foundation in 2009. Joyce will be working in close partnership with Joanna Jackson, Vice President, Programs, who will now focus on broader strategy and alignment across our program areas.