Oct 22, 2020 · 4 min read

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Joins COVID-19 “Together Toward Health” Initiative to Support Communities in California

$20 Million Initiative will Address COVID-19 Health Inequities in Most Impacted Communities

Photo Courtesy of Public Health Institute

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) has joined 12 other major philanthropic foundations to help launch Together Toward Health, a $20 million initiative to stop the spread of coronavirus and strengthen health and resilience in California’s most impacted communities. Supporting foundations include: The Ballmer Group, Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Health Care Foundation, Genentech, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The Sierra Health Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, CZI, and the Weingart Foundation. The fund goal is to reach at least $25 million to help address the vast needs in communities at-risk and hard hit by COVID-19. CZI committed $1 million to the initiative.

The independent nonprofit Public Health Institute (PHI) will coordinate Together Toward Health, which will connect with community based organizations to expand workforce development opportunities for Californians most impacted by COVID-19, and create and amplify public outreach efforts to reduce its spread.

Across the state, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Black, Latinx, Native American, immigrant and low-income populations. Structural racism and other historical inequities create many of the conditions—multi-generational housing, barriers to affordable and accessible healthcare, greater exposure to pollution, higher levels of childhood and everyday stress, higher likelihood of being essential and outdoor workers, and others—that put people of color at greater risk for coronavirus and for the underlying health issues that make the virus more deadly.

Together Toward Health aims to help reduce COVID-19 rates in these communities in the short term, and build economic resilience and opportunity in the long term. PHI will partner with local health departments and community-based groups who are familiar with COVID-19 challenges in their communities, to enhance and broaden efforts to improve the health of everyone in the county. This may include engaging community members and organizations in workforce opportunities to support local health departments, and providing trusted, relevant and accurate health education and outreach within their communities.

The program will also create and build on existing public awareness and information sharing efforts. Together Toward Health will help tailor messaging that addresses the different needs of specific communities, including areas where critical businesses such as agriculture employ workers who are at heightened risk for COVID-19.

COVID-19 has laid bare longstanding inequities in the Bay Area and across the state,” said Cristina Huezo, Director of Community at CZI. “Together Toward Health aims to address these inequities head-on, fueling community-focused programs in response to the pandemic. We’re proud to support this work and what it signals— a commitment to solutions that center and empower community.”

“Our work with California’s philanthropic leaders in this urgent effort aims to address the health inequities that have been exposed and exacerbated by COVID-19,” said PHI President and CEO Mary Pittman, DrPH. “All Californians, and especially Latino, African Americans, and others who face disproportionate risks from COVID-19, need support, trustworthy information, and evidence-based health interventions. Our most impacted communities need to be represented and embedded in our solutions to address the pandemic, and they need a path to economic vitality once it has ended. Working closely with community based organizations will help us assure appropriate local engagement.”

PHI has been leading work across the west coast to address the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, PHI launched its Tracing Health program in Oregon and Washington, hiring and deploying a multilingual workforce within weeks, successfully helping counties in those states move forward on the path to safer reopening, and building a more diverse public health workforce. In August, PHI announced a $63 million project with Kaiser Permanente to support contact tracing, health education and outreach efforts in California.

For more information on the initiative, and intake forms for CBO’s interested in support for their community COVID-19 efforts, visit www.phi.org/press/togethertowardhealth.


About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education, and Justice & Opportunity, we’re pairing engineering with grant-making, impact investing, and policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit chanzuckerberg.com.

About the Public Health Institute

The Public Health Institute, an independent nonprofit organization, is dedicated to promoting health, well-being and quality of life for people throughout California, across the nation and around the world.

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