Kaiser Permanente has awarded over $20 million to programs that address and support young people’s social determinants of health.
The grants will go to community-based and national charitable organizations that offer education and job training to young people from underrepresented and low-income communities. The donations demonstrate Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to addressing the non-clinical factors that impact population health.
“As a mission-based nonprofit organization, we have the responsibility to look at the big picture when it comes to community health,” said Cynthia Telles, PhD, Community Health Committee chair for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Boards of Directors. “We know that education, training, and good jobs are important to the health of our communities.”
The grants include funding for the Workforce Development Council for Seattle-King County, a nonprofit workforce organization that oversees employment-related programs for youth, the adult workforce, and employers in Seattle-King County.
The Workforce Development Council (WDC) will work with education, business, and community organizations to create a pathway to apprenticeship and multi-trade apprenticeship programs. Homeless youth, young parents, and youth who have been in foster care or juvenile justice systems will receive high priority for this program.
“This program will connect young people to basic needs such as stable housing, transportation, and childcare,” said Dot Fallihee, interim CEO of the WDC. “We’ll provide targeted training with placements into apprenticeships in manufacturing and health care, which will offer opportunities to improve their wages, stability, and overall health.”
Kaiser Permanente will also award funding to the Oakland Unified School District’s Thriving Students Initiative to expand the district's Community Schools model and sustain the African American Male Achievement Program, a nationally recognized initiative designed to improve academic and life outcomes for African American male students in Oakland.
The grant will also serve to strengthen school-based health centers and address the recent increase in student homelessness.
Community Health Councils will benefit from the Kaiser Permanente grants as well. The donation will implement a Youth of Color Workforce Development Pipeline program, which will help low-income students in South Los Angeles prepare for jobs in local community health centers.
These grants will add to Kaiser Permanente’s many efforts to address and support individuals’ social determinants of health. In March 2019, the organization partnered with Community Solutions to leverage real-time data and end chronic homelessness in 15 communities. Kaiser Permanente will donate $3 million over three years to Community Solutions’ Build for Zero Initiative, a program that helps local leaders better understand homelessness in the communities they serve.
“Kaiser Permanente is investing in efforts to reduce homelessness and housing insecurity because there is a proven link between housing and health,” Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson said at the time.
“Addressing affordable housing and homelessness is crucial to Kaiser Permanente’s mission to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve, and to advance the economic, social and environmental conditions for health.”
More recently, the organization announced that it would be developing a first-of-its-kind program to connect all its members to resources that address the social determinants of health. The Thrive Local initiative will integrate traditional clinical care with mental healthcare and community services, providing comprehensive support for individuals struggling with housing, food insecurity, and other issues.
“Kaiser Permanente has long understood that total health can only be achieved through a combination of physical, mental and social care,” Tyson said at the time.
“In order to thrive, people need access to the things that are vital to health such as secure housing and nutritious food. Our unique mission to improve not only the health of our members, but also that of our communities, drives us to undertake impactful initiatives like Thrive Local to connect our communities with the services they need. This is one of our bold moves.”
With these new grants, Kaiser Permanente expects to support individuals’ social determinants and improve their overall health and wellbeing.
“We are excited to help young people in our communities who have faced great obstacles to finishing school and finding stable work,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, Kaiser Permanente chief community health officer. “These grants will help them further their education and improve their economic situation, and ultimately their health.”