August 12, 2020

Grants support community health in midst of COVID-19

Kaiser Permanente pledges more than $28 million in grants, many to address needs highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic.

During the first half of 2020, the world faced unfortunate realities caused and magnified by the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout this particularly challenging time, Kaiser Permanente has continued its commitment to improve health in the communities it serves, awarding more than $28 million in grants — with many grants specifically addressing needs that have surfaced during the pandemic.

“Kaiser Permanente recognized the need to support broad-based relief at the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Cynthia Telles, PhD, Community Health Committee chair for the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals boards of directors. “As the situation continues to evolve, we will maintain our commitments to supporting these efforts, preparing for the recovery period following this pandemic, and bolstering resiliency in impacted communities.”

Helping communities overcome systemic inequities

Communities of color are disproportionately affected by a lack of economic opportunity, living under sustained financial strain that creates multiple barriers to good health. The COVID-19 pandemic, fueling dual health and economic crises, threatens to widen racial health and wealth gaps even further. Supporting the resiliency of businesses owned by Black and other traditionally under-represented individuals will require sustained efforts to increase access to business capital and build capacity for growth.  

Kaiser Permanente awarded a grant to Initiative for a Competitive Inner City as part of its commitment to creating economic opportunity for communities of color and supporting them in overcoming systemic and structural economic disadvantage. ICIC was founded in 1994 by Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter after the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, which followed the Rodney King verdict. Since then, narrowing the country’s racial wealth gap by creating sustainable small business ecosystems in our most economically vulnerable communities has been ICIC’s principal goal.

Funding expands support for the Inner City Capital Connections program to help businesses survive, recover, and grow by providing access to capital as well as business and management education. ICIC will implement the ICCC program initially in 4 cities Kaiser Permanente serves, recruit 50 to 75 under-resourced and locally-based entrepreneurs to participate, and build the participating entrepreneurs’ capacity to access capital and achieve sustainable growth in revenue and employment — and will look to expand to more cities in the coming months.

Extending support throughout the pandemic

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis affecting everyone,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, SVP and chief health officer at Kaiser Permanente. “But the health crisis and economic fallout from the pandemic are hitting low-income and communities of color disproportionately hard. As we align our grants to address the challenges ahead, we remain focused on helping our communities regain and maintain access to health care, housing, food, jobs — all of their basic needs.” 

Additional grants awarded in the first 2 quarters of 2020 to meet these needs include:

Quarterly grants are part of the contributions that Kaiser Permanente makes each year to improve community health. Kaiser Permanente also serves the community through a range of programs including Medicaid, charitable health coverage, medical financial assistance, and medical research. In 2019, Kaiser Permanente dedicated $3.4 billion to improve health and wellness in communities across the country.