Behind the California Endowment's Billion-Dollar Bet on Community Health

The California Endowment believes that getting and staying healthy is so much more than an apple a day or even a yearly doctor's visit. The Endowment's Building Healthy Communities has a vision of heroic proportions: making changes in underserved California neighborhoods and schools to prevent residents from getting sick in the first place. This goes against the reactive grain of treating people after they become sick with a pill or strangely colored elixir.

The California Endowment wants to create healthier, safer places to live, work, and go to school in 14 California neighborhoods, including South Central Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, and East Oakland. (See California Endowment: Los Angeles Area Grants). The Endowment brought business leaders, city government and area residents of these areas together to brainstorm how they can all contribute toward building these neighborhoods into healthier, safer California communities. The Endowment's mission includes:

  • Revamping schools into safe learning environments where children can learn without the threat of violence
  • Building better parks for residents to enjoy and for children to play in
  • Discovering ways in which the residents can have easy access to fresh and healthier foods
  • Creating a safer community for local businesses and their employees

The naysayers, cynics, or otherwise glass-half-empty individuals who believe that the Endowment is blowing a bunch of air as hot as the Santa Ana's, the California Endowment is putting its money where its mission is; $1 billion over 10 years. Yes, that's billion with a capital "B" (and nine zeroes). Needless to say, but we'll say it anyway — the California Endowment isn't messing around. (Read The California Endowment president, Robert Ross' IP profile).