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.