January 25, 2021

$4 million initiative to address economic inequity

Kaiser Permanente investments target economically disadvantaged communities, supporting 600 businesses and 5,000 individuals in Washington.

Contact: Melissa Putman

SEATTLE — Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington has launched an initiative to combat ongoing racial disparities in access to economic opportunity in the communities it serves. The initial 3-year $4 million investment will focus on communities that have endured decades of underinvestment and will support them in overcoming systemic and structural economic disadvantage.

Grants to 4 national and regional nonprofits will serve roughly 600 businesses and 5,000 individuals across the state. The grantees include United Way of Pierce County, Inner City Capital Connections, Pacific Community Ventures, and Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

“We recognize the clear link between economic stability and vitality and health,” said David Grossman, MD, senior associate medical director for community health and external relations for Kaiser Permanente Washington and national senior medical director for community health. “Communities of color experience great inequities in access to economic opportunities, resulting in financial strain and negative health impacts. We are taking action to address that.”

A recent Kaiser Permanente survey of social needs among 8,000 members in Washington identified economic insecurity as the number one need, impacting food security, housing, and health.

The grants aim to accomplish 3 objectives:

  1. Foster economic vitality in commercial corridors in underinvested communities of color.
  2. Provide access to technical assistance, expert advice, and capital for Black-owned businesses, positioning them for resilience and sustainable growth through the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Provide access to place-based financial coaching and workforce supports for economically vulnerable families.

Funding for United Way of Pierce County will support its Center for Strong Families network across Pierce County, strengthening capacity at its 7 current centers and adding 2 more sites. The centers provide financial coaching and workforce supports to individuals and families experiencing financial insecurity.

Dona Ponepinto, president and CEO of United Way of Pierce County, said, “Our Center for Strong Families network delivers proven strategies to address persistent poverty, financial instability, and wage stagnation. These best practices achieve real results for families, helping them decrease their debt, increase their income, and get on a stable financial path. Kaiser Permanente’s support will help us reach even more families during and beyond this current health and economic crisis.”

Investments with Inner City Capital Connections and Pacific Community Ventures will provide technical assistance and business advising to Black- and brown-owned businesses. ICCC will provide a 40-hour “mini-MBA” program designed to help business leaders in underserved urban areas access capital. PCV will provide access to a national network of expert advisors.

Funding for Local Initiatives Support Corporation will support its work with local government, businesses, and partners to convert under-utilized commercial and industrial districts into havens for new businesses. LISC will also provide place-based financial coaching and reskilling to connect people to jobs that pay a living wage.

About Kaiser Permanente

For 75 years, Kaiser Permanente has been committed to shaping the future of health and health care — and helping our members, patients, and communities experience more healthy years. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Since July 21, 1945, Kaiser Permanente’s mission has been to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.