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Kaiser Permanente Invests $3.3 million in Community

Written on Mar. 21st, 2023
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Kaiser Permanente of the Northwest has awarded $3.3 million in community grants to 11 nonprofit organizations, as part of a new initiative aimed at building social connections and reducing social isolation in BIPOC, immigrant and refugee, and LGBTQ+ communities. 

“We know that social isolation has a negative impact on a person’s physical and mental health,” said Jeff Collins, president of Kaiser Permanente of the Northwest. “COVID-19 has compounded that sense of isolation, disrupting relationships and support services in these already challenged communities.”

The grantees are (program descriptions available at end of release):

  • Accion Politica PCUNista – Woodburn, OR
  • Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon Communities United Fund – Portland, OR
  • Basic Rights Education Fund – Portland, OR
  • Black Oregon Land Trust – Corbett, OR
  • Center for African Immigrants and Refugees Organization – Portland, OR
  • Centro Latino Americano – Eugene, OR
  • El Programa Hispano Catolico – Gresham, OR
  • Friendly House – Portland, OR
  • Imagine Black Futures – Portland, OR
  • Samoa Pacific Development Corporation – Portland, OR
  • Wild Diversity – Portland, OR

The Social and Emotional Wellbeing grant initiative was created in collaboration with the Coalition of Communities of Color, a statewide community-based organization, in response to recommendations from community members who expressed that isolation from their support systems has led to depression, anxiety, and stress. 

Members of these communities have experienced stress and trauma across generations, often because of racism, discrimination, and exclusion due to their race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or immigration status. 

The community members are seeking opportunities for social connections that respect their cultural values and allow them to create a sense of belonging. 

“Kaiser Permanente understands the link between generational trauma, social isolation, and the health outcomes seen later in life, including issues related to mental health, addiction, and chronic disease,” said Tracy Dannen-Grace, director of community and social health for Kaiser Permanente of the Northwest. 

Additionally, mental health and wellness can carry different meanings and stigmas in different communities, making it hard for individuals to feel comfortable talking about personal challenges and seek help.

“As we considered how to best support these communities, we knew it was critical to engage with local nonprofits who deeply understand their concerns and desires,” Dannen-Grace said. “They know first-hand how to create culturally responsive programs that will resonate with the communities they serve,” Dannen-Grace said.

Kaiser Permanente received more than 70 applications from organizations across its Northwest region, underscoring the importance of addressing this pressing need. Grantees went through a vigorous review process that included subject matter experts and culturally diverse review teams. 

New research is emerging that supports regional findings. A 2020 report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine suggests that immigrant and lesbian, gay, bisexual populations experience loneliness more often than other groups. For example, first-generation immigrants experience stressors that can increase their social isolation, such as language barriers, differences in community, family dynamics, and new relationships that lack depth or history. Similarly, gay, lesbian, and bisexual populations tend to have more loneliness than their heterosexual peers because of stigma, discrimination, and barriers to care.

In addition to financial grants, grant recipients will be supported by an independent evaluator who is trained in culturally responsive approaches. Grantees will also come together over the course of the two-and-a-half-year grant to share learnings, strategies, and outcomes.  

How does this affect us?

Accion Politica PCUNista (PCUN) – Woodburn, OR

Fiscal Sponsor Willamette Valley Law Project

PCUN’s mission is to empower farmworkers and working Latinx families in Oregon through building community, increasing Latinx representation in elections, and policy advocacy on both the national and state levels. The organization’s project, Circulos de Sanacion (Healing Circles), seeks to empower women and femme-identifying immigrant community members to build self-confidence through workshops and healing circles focused on gender equality, healing, self-awareness, responsibility, tenderness, love, and celebrating one’s achievements as a woman. The project’s vision is to create environments of tranquility, harmony, love, happiness, and personal and family well-being so that, as women, they can connect to their cultural roots and heal societal/generational trauma as immigrant women.

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