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Sierra Health Foundation Partnerships

Responsive Grants Program awards go to 22 organizations to improve health, promote access and reduce health inequity


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We’re pleased to announce the 2017 Responsive Grants Program awards. A total of $300,000 in grants to 22 nonprofit organizations and public agencies will support programs that serve diverse ethnic populations, people with disabilities, people who are homeless and LGBTQ communities. Almost 40 percent of the funding will support projects serving exclusively in rural areas of our 26-county funding region.

Since launching the Responsive Grants Program in 2008, we have awarded 370 grants totaling approximately $7.3 million. This year’s awards focus on mental health services, housing and supportive services, grade-level reading, aging safely in place, access to fresh food, sexual health education, reducing health disparities for farm workers and other community-driven efforts.

Funding decisions were based on the program criteria, geographic representation across the funding region, a minimum 30 percent set-aside for projects serving rural areas, and diversity in types of projects and populations served.

See the grant list with program descriptions on the Responsive Grants Program web page.

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Sergio Cuellar and Socorro Santillan join Sierra Health Foundation and The Center


We’re pleased to announce two new staff members who joined our team this month.

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Sergio Cuellar is the Program Manager of the California Funders for Boys and Men of Color. He brings a deep commitment to health and racial equity, extensive nonprofit experience working with and for youth and young adults, and a passion to support and empower communities of color.

Most recently, Sergio served as the Community Engagement Coordinator with the Center for Regional Change at UC Davis. Previously, he served as the Statewide Campaign Director of Californians for Justice, and as Director of Programs for Youth In Focus. He also is a co-founding member of Escuelas Si! Pintas No!, a youth organizing coalition focused on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline. Sergio recently earned his Masters in Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco.

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Socorro Santillan is the Program Officer of the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund. She is a community leader with a passionate commitment and connection to the people of the San Joaquin Valley, and is an advocate for policy reform and systems change that positively impact communities.

Before coming to Sierra Health Foundation and The Center, Socorro served as the Executive Director of Fresno Barrios Unidos, and as Executive Director of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR-UP) at California State University Fresno. Socorro earned her Bachelor of Arts in Chicano Latino Studies from California State University Fresno. She is a Fellow of the Women’s Policy Institute and is a certified Community Health Outreach Worker.

We know Sergio and Socorro will bring new ideas and perspectives to these programs and to our collective work of promoting community health and health equity for all.

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Health Leadership Program Class XIV to begin in October

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We look forward to welcoming the 27 members of Health Leadership Program Class XIV for their first session starting on Oct. 4. Class members are current or emerging leaders in organizations that work to improve community health and well-being and reduce health disparities across a broad range of issue areas. Participants have the opportunity to increase their abilities and strengthen their organizations, with a deepened commitment to address health disparities and health equity in underserved communities in Northern California and the San Joaquin Valley.

The Health Leadership Program is led by Kenneth W. Kizer, MD, MPH, of the Institute for Population Health Improvement at UC Davis in partnership with Richard F. Callahan, DPA, of TAP International.

Since 2001, the Health Leadership Program has supported 338 nonprofit and public executives in developing their skills to lead their organizations and improve community health and well-being.

See the Class XIV list and learn more on the Health Leadership Program web page.

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Rural north state forum to be held in Redding


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Sierra Health Foundation, California Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Equity, and Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency are partnering to gain a better understanding of the health equity challenges facing the rural north. They will host a forum on Oct. 26 in Redding to dialogue with service providers and policymakers working to improve outcomes in early childhood development, education, housing, income security and mental health, with a special focus on suicide prevention. To attend the forum, please RSVP to the Office of Health Equity and include “Forum” in the subject line. Details will be sent to participants by e-mail.

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Leadership Development for Racial Equity cohort builds network for systems change


This year’s Leadership Development for Racial Equity cohort gathered last month at their first Learning Community. Representatives from 11 organizations participated, including executive staff, board members and staff leading racial equity work. The Learning Community was an opportunity for cross-regional networking and organizational development. The leaders shared how they are working to achieve racial equity in their communities and led a power mapping activity of systems change work with other organizations in their region.

Photo from LDRE Learning Community

Alliance for Justice guided participants on an assessment tool to support organizations with a better understanding of how to continue strengthening and sustaining their work to build power and influence in their communities. This first gathering with the 2017 cohort provided grantees an opportunity to learn, share and build long-lasting relationships with organizations across the Central Valley and Northern California regions.

Learn more about this program on the The Center web site.

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Remembering Mario Gutierrez

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We join the community in remembering and honoring Mario Gutierrez, a long-time health care advocate, colleague and friend. Mario’s life and his incredible impact were celebrated on August 23 at Sierra Health Foundation with almost 300 people in attendance.

“On behalf of the Sierra Heath Foundation board and staff, I want to offer our sympathies to the Gutierrez family and acknowledge the extraordinary life and contributions made by Mario,” said Sierra Health Foundation President and CEO Chet P. Hewitt. “His accomplishments serve as examples of true servant leadership shaped by innovation and deep commitment to health equity.”

Mario’s lifetime of service included six years as Senior Program Officer at Sierra Health Foundation and 12 years at The California Endowment. Most recently, he was the Executive Director of the Center for Connected Health Policy, which is located at Sierra Health Foundation’s Nonprofit Innovation Center. Mario was a recipient of the prestigious 2007 Terrance Keenan National Leadership Award in Health Philanthropy, and he served on the boards of nonprofit organizations working to improve health and health equity.

Mario’s passing is felt deeply by all who had the honor of knowing him.

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Black Child Legacy Campaign represented at Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy


Representatives from the Black Child Legacy Campaign participated at the 2017 Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy in Clinton, Tennessee, July 17-21. The Institute is held annually at the Children’s Defense Fund’s Haley Farm. Program Officer Kindra Montgomery-Block presented on the Black Child Legacy Campaign’s work in Sacramento County. Watch it on Facebook.

The Black Child Legacy Campaign is the community-driven movement raising visibility and strengthening collective impact efforts of the Steering Committee on Reduction of African American Child Deaths to reduce the number of black child mortalities by 10% to 20% in 2020 in Sacramento County. Learn more on the Black Child Legacy Campaign web site and the Steering Committee on RAACD web page.

BCLC members at Haley Farm

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Throughout 2017, we are highlighting the work of our partners through a campaign called #PeoplePursuing. We invite you to visit our Facebook and Instagram pages for new inspiring posts!

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