About Us

Building Healthy Communities is a ten-year, $1 billion comprehensive community initiative that is creating a revolution in the way Californians think about and support health in their communities. In 14 places across California, residents are proving that they have the power to make health happen in their neighborhoods, schools and with prevention—and in doing so, they’re creating a brighter future for their children and for our state.

Building Healthy Communities has a simple strategy: work on a local scale to create broad, statewide impact. Where we live, our race, and our income each play a big part in how well and how long we live. We need to reshape the places that shape us—our neighborhoods.

Parents want to raise their children in neighborhoods with safe parks and quality schools, but many Californians don’t get to choose where they live. Because the differences between neighborhoods is linked to differences in health outcomes, The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative includes a deep investment in place.

Building Healthy Communities partnered with 14 places in the state representing California’s rich diversity.

  • Boyle Heights
  • Central Santa Ana
  • Central/Southeast/Southwest Fresno
  • City Heights
  • Del Norte County Adjacent Tribal Lands
  • Eastern Coachella Valley
  • East Oakland
  • East Salinas (Alisal)
  • Long Beach
  • Richmond
  • Sacramento
  • South Los Angeles
  • South Kern
  • Southwest Merced/East Merced County

What Are the Five Drivers of Change?

One of the hallmarks of Building Healthy Communities is our focus on how community transformation is achieved—what we call Drivers of Change — rather than a focus on narrowly determined outcomes and a range of pre-determined strategies for getting there. Underlying all Building Healthy Communities activities is a fundamental belief in the power of a functioning democracy in which all people are valued and included.

Youth leadership training and other youth development activities support a network of motivated, activated youth leaders in reaching their full potential, serving as leaders in the movement to create healthy and just communities. Youth are organizing within and across all Building Healthy Communities sites and beyond. BHC supports leadership development as well as youth academic, economic, and socio-emotional development, employing a trauma- and healing-informed approach. Additionally, Building Healthy Communities supports the push to change norms within public and private institutions to promote active participation by youth in decision making at the local, regional, and state levels.

Youth leaders come in a variety of forms other than the traditional stereotypes of the honor student or student council member. Young people who have firsthand experience with inequitable school discipline practices, interpersonal violence, and incarceration are poised to authentically speak and to help organize their peers to transform their communities, if given the opportunity. Understanding the trauma experienced by youth in the BHC communities, and incorporating this understanding into youth-oriented programming is a critical component of engaging youth who do not fit the dominant youth leader mold.

With trauma-informed practice as the point of departure, there is a spectrum of activities encompassed by “youth leadership,” including youth development, youth leadership development, and youth-led organizing. Regardless of the approach, youth development activities should prepare young people to take advantage of opportunities. In addition to healing and supporting their identity development, we have to teach youth how to engage effectively in policy settings that may otherwise be foreign to them. This includes developing skills such as data analysis, critical thinking, public speaking, and organizing.

The powerful voices of young people should be lifted up not only at the local level, but also at the regional and state-levels, whenever possible. There is a logical connection with the Sons and Brothers work being done in the Building Healthy Communities sites and statewide that aims to support young men and women of color in reaching their full potential in school, work, and life, and The California Endowment expects to provide multiple opportunities for creative cross-fertilization of Building Healthy Communities and Sons and Brothers efforts.

We aim to help BHC communities develop the following capacities by 2020:

  • Local youth increasingly occupy positions of influence in their communities.
  • Pathways and structures to support local youth healing, leadership development, and organizing are in place.
  • Youth voice and leadership are incorporated in decision making by public agencies and community based organizations.
  • Public and private institutions prioritize and increase funding to promote healthy youth development, resiliency, and power.

Resident organizing and training activities support engagement and leadership in local decision-making forums and policy and systems change campaigns. Local systems and institutions promote full and active participation by residents in policy development and implementation. Residents value and have the tools to engage in multi-racial alliances for change.

Across the Building Healthy Communities sites, local residents are beginning to understand their leadership and change-making potential, lifting their voices in public forums, and exercising real power. In turn, local institutions and government agencies are being challenged to reorient the civic infrastructure to truly optimize democracy and incorporate genuine resident input in decision making beyond the minimal and often superficial methods typically used.

Each of the BHC communities began their efforts with dramatically different histories of organizing activity and significantly varying levels of existing capacity. Consequently, progress in building resident power and youth leadership looks different across the sites. As a result, it is important to emphasize quality of leadership development and organizing over quantity of residents turning out to a meeting. Building Healthy Communities supports developing the skills residents need to organize, occupy positions of influence, and lead. Ensuring these activities persist beyond 2020 also requires building local structures for increased community participation in decision making, such as Participatory Budgeting. Finally, Building Healthy Communities supports arts and culture as an essential component of building strong community ties.

We aim to help Building Healthy Communities sites develop the following capacities by 2020:

  • Adult residents from traditionally marginalized communities occupy positions of influence and authority across public, community-based and private institutions
  • Traditionally marginalized and excluded residents have voice and power in local government agencies and nonprofit decision-making processes.
  • Pathways and structures are in place within organizations and community-wide to support resident healing, leadership development and organizing, with residents leading organizing efforts for local, regional, and statewide impact.
  • Local structures—formal and informal—are in place to support mobilizing resident voice and power.
  • Multi-racial and inclusionary alliances build people power and deepen impact.

Improve collaboration by enhancing the quality and quantity of interactions between power players, community-based organizations, and residents to promote constructive and innovative change. Enhance the quality of cross-sector collaboration, resident and stakeholder engagement, and data-sharing and analysis.

Building Healthy Communities deepens the impact of people power—adult and youth—through effective collaboration. Too often in BHC communities, different agencies of government do not work effectively together, resulting in diminished effectiveness. But the problem is not confined to public sector organizations. Nonprofits and other community-based organizations at times also fail to communicate with each other, and can sometimes work at cross purposes. Our early experience has confirmed that there is a critical need to “bust silos” and pull unlikely partners together to work on issues that might be outside their mission (for example, school discipline or land use) but address the common goal of community well-being.

What does The California Endowment mean by collaboration? While the specifics may be unique to each Building Healthy Communities site, we believe there are themes that all sites share, including the proposition that the achievement of desired outcomes depends to a large degree on the ability of individuals and organizations to collectively set goals, share information, agree on appropriate divisions of labor, work together, and hold each other accountable. Another key theme is the ability of communities to align financial and other resources to achieve those shared goals.

The California Endowment’s support for Hubs in each of the communities is intended to provide a locally-appropriate structure to promote collective action. The California Endowment also understands that once funding for the Building Healthy Communities initiative ends, the degree to which any progress will be sustainable will depend in large part on the efficacy and durability of those local collaborative relationships.

To this end, Building Healthy Communities supports strategies that build relationships across sectors and within communities to enhance collective problem solving and action. Our funding supports cross-sector collaboration by enhancing the quality and quantity of interactions between interested parties in settings such as the Hub. Tools and mechanisms are made available to facilitate root cause analysis and improve local policy development and implementation, such as Health Impact Assessments.

We aim to help BHC communities develop the following capacities by 2020:

  • Local government agencies, community based organizations, residents, and other stakeholders work collaboratively across issue areas to establish and pursue shared outcomes and power.
  • Local structures and practices grounded in the meaningful participation of marginalized populations are in place to promote and sustain ongoing, inclusive and collective efforts to advance health equity.
  • Coalitions, collaborations, and other structures that promote working across issues and sectors are in place to support innovative advocacy approaches to advance policy, systems and social norms change.
  • Local policies, practices, and structures promote equity and inclusion of historically marginalized populations.
  • Community stakeholders, including non-profit organizations, systems leaders, and policy makers integrate an equity lens in policy development and practice.

Strategic partnerships among the many sectors connected to Building Healthy Communities leverage new dollars or other discrete resources so that transformative community strategies thrive and are sustained.

The California Endowment funding, substantial as it is, will not be sufficient to advance all the community priorities and sustain community transformation in all 7 14 Building Healthy Communities sites indefinitely. Building Healthy Communities’ success relies on private and public sector partnership. BHC is mobilizing The California Endowment’s assets to support its social change goals through impact investing, such as the FreshWorks Fund that supports investments in healthy food retail in underserved communities.

Building Healthy Communities is also seeking out new and diverse partners across sectors—from foundations to corporations to policymakers—that can bring new ideas, leverage our investment with new dollars, and contribute other resources to multiply the value of the Endowment’s direct investment many times over. To sustain and maximize these partnerships once funding ends, they must be formed and enhanced in each community such that they are grounded in efforts to build the power of local residents.

An overarching partnership goal is to deepen strategic engagement with anchor institutions in each Building Healthy Communities site. These institutions (for example, major educational institutions and hospitals) are rooted in place because of invested capital and long-term relationships with customers or employees and have a vested interest in improving the welfare of their surrounding communities.

We aim to help BHC communities develop the following capacities by 2020:

  • Community stakeholders in divested neighborhoods mobilize and secure new forms of private capital by building community development skills and fostering new relationships.
  • Community stakeholders mobilize and secure increased investment of public dollars across sectors (e.g. public health, education, human services, transportation, public works, public safety and public housing) to address the social determinants of health, such as housing, jobs, food, transportation, and all the opportunities, resources, and services people and communities need to be healthy in disinvested neighborhoods.
  • Local residents are directly engaged in the implementation and governance of partnership agreements, such as community benefit agreements, both to reinforce their power and to maximize the potential for sustainability.

Engage the local media and local messengers influential with elected officials and other leaders in weaving a compelling and new narrative about community health and prevention, and the historic and structural context for low-income communities.

Building Healthy Communities is seeking to refocus the narrative about community health and prevention, one that recognizes the environmental, political, and economic determinants of health and moves the dominant narrative from one focused on personal responsibility and exclusion to one focused on collective health and inclusion. Building Healthy Communities supports efforts to shape the views of policymakers and the public to increase support for prevention and equity.

A key component of BHC is developing community residents’ capacity to effectively drive the local dialogue on health away from conventional debates about access to health care to dialogue that addresses the social determinants: the existence of poverty, racism, and hopelessness; and the lack of resources and opportunities people and communities need to be healthy, such as good schools, jobs, and housing. BHC is facilitating media partnerships and enlisting local messengers to spread the success stories coming out of the BHC sites. Additionally, BHC proactively seeks out opportunities for BHC leaders to present their work in venues where they are not traditionally heard.

The statewide Health Happens Here campaign provides a common frame of reference and another way to address the complex topic of social determinants of health for a mass audience. In communicating their hopes, desires, and innovations, BHC communities help change the narrative among all stakeholders.

We aim to help BHC communities develop the following capacities by 2020:

  • People value health equity and inclusion and understand that the social and physical environment influence health, and contextualize current inequities and community problems within a historical and structural context.
  • The dominant narrative recognizes historically marginalized communities (boys and men of Color, the Undocumented, LGBTQ, Women, the formerly Incarcerated) as valuable members of the community and they are supported by policies, practices and structures that ensure their inclusion.
  • Local structures—formal and informal—are in place to facilitate adult and youth residents to tell their own stories.


Health Happens with Prevention
  • Violence Intervention Program – Community Mental Health Center
  • Clinica Romero
  • The Wall Las Memorias
  • Maternal and Child Health Access
  • LAC+USC Medical Center Foundation, Inc. (The Wellness Center)
  • Alliance for California Traditional Arts
  • Casa 0101
  • Southern California Education Fund (OneLA and NLS)
  • Planned Parenthood – Los Angeles
  • Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles (NLS)
  • Las Fotos Project
  • LA Voice
Health Happens in Schools
  • Volunteers of America Los Angeles
  • Partnership for Los Angeles Schools
  • Public Counsel
  • Gay-Straight Alliance Network
  • InnerCity Struggle
  • Latino Equality Alliance
  • California Center for Public Health Advocacy
  • College Track
  • Casa 0101
  • Alliance for California Traditional Arts
  • YMCA
  • Families in Schools
  • Labor Community Strategy Center
Health Happens in Neighborhoods
  • Jovenes, Inc.
  • Self-Help Graphics and Arts, Inc.
  • East LA Community Corporation
  • Workers Education and Resource Center
  • CCF Community Initiatives Fund
  • Alliance for California Traditional Arts
  • Las Fotos Project
  • UCLA School of Public Health
  • Labor Community Strategy Center
  • Legacy LA
  • East Los Angeles Women’s Center
  • Violence Prevention Coalition

Nuestra área de servicio

BHC Boyle Heights coverage map
We provide free and low cost services to all residents who reside in the area shown in the attached map. Please contact us directly if you have any questions — we’re always here to help!

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