Kaiser Permanente: Committing $8.15M for Racial Equity

Originally published on about.kaiserpermanente.org.

Grants to grassroots and nonprofit organizations will help address structural racism and practices that prevent communities of color from achieving good health and well-being.

Kaiser Permanente (Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Hall of Fame), the nation’s largest integrated, nonprofit health system, has awarded $8.15 million to support dozens of nonprofit and community-based organizations whose programs address systemic racism and accompanying trauma on individuals and communities of color. These grants are part of a $25 million commitment Kaiser Permanente announced in June 2020 to promote health equity among its members, communities, employees, and physicians and to break the cycle of trauma and stress driven by racism that leads to poor health outcomes.

This first set of grants, awarded to 40 organizations in the District of Columbia and the 8 U.S. states where Kaiser Permanente operates, supports established national and regional community-based organizations led by people of color, that address racial and social justice or trauma, including the lifelong impacts of adverse childhood experiences. Funding will be used for community organizing, policy advocacy, and movement building, among other objectives.

“As we reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., I hope Kaiser Permanente is one of many voices plainly saying that there is much, much work still to be done to realize Dr. King’s ideal of an equitable society that guarantees every individual the opportunity to thrive,” said Greg A. Adams, Kaiser Permanente chairman and CEO. “I am encouraged as I see what progress is possible through organization, activism, and advocacy — and I want our support to enable future generations to follow that path to create change.”

Among the initiatives funded is a $2 million national partnership with PolicyLink to design and scale racial equity strategies, projects, and campaigns. The core issues PolicyLink addresses include housing justice, water equity and climate resilience, corporate racial equity, and reducing inequality.

“To truly honor Dr. King, we must build a just and fair society where all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. Sadly, due to us not heeding Dr. King’s charge, more than 100 million people — 1 in 3 Americans — still live in or near poverty,” said Michael McAfee, president and CEO of PolicyLink. “Our partnership with Kaiser Permanente will support creating anti-racist practices and policies inside the organization, within Kaiser Permanente’s vast network, and in the broader society. This project will help to ensure that all people in America — particularly those who face the burdens of structural racism — participate in a just society, live in a healthy community of opportunity, and prosper in an equitable economy.”

As part of this partnership, PolicyLink will also play a role in working with organizations receiving grants — convening, engaging, and mobilizing regional grantees to catalyze learning and action communities. Kaiser Permanente and PolicyLink will evaluate the outcomes of funded programs, with input from a panel of national racial justice and trauma experts, to track and measure overall progress. The grants will be distributed through Kaiser Permanente’s fund at the East Bay Community Foundation.