Kaiser Permanente of Sonoma Marin receives a North Bay GIVES award
Name of CEO or Leader of the charitable efforts or your group: Tarek Salaway
Their title: Senior VP/Area Manager
Company headquarters address: 1 Kaiser Plaza, Oakland
kp.org/sanrafael and kp.org/santa rosa
As an organization, there is clearly a determination to encourage employees and the company to support nonprofits and their causes. In what ways is this culture embedded in your organization?
At Kaiser Permanente, we’ve always been passionate about community involvement and giving, since so much of what affects health care happens outside the walls of the hospital.
This deep commitment to serving the community extends to our Marin-Sonoma physicians and staff, who together serve on nearly 150 boards, commissions, and committees.
Many of our team members volunteer in other ways, too, whether it be individually or group efforts such as our annual MLK Day of Service. Our physicians and staff have given nearly $127,000 to local organizations as part of our annual giving campaign, with the funds nearly doubled by matching corporate funds.
In addition, when the pandemic was at its peak, our leadership teams deployed to areas that were surging to offer respite there.
How have you and/or your employees seen the benefits of this investment in the company? These can be specific examples or in general from feedback you have received.
Kaiser Permanente is committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities we serve, especially the most vulnerable populations, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
In 2021, Kaiser Permanente provided more than $10 million to 120 Northern California community organizations to increase COVID-10 vaccinations in communities hit hardest.
One of our local grants went to La Luz Center in Sonoma Valley. Because La Luz Center is a trusted and well-respected organization in the communities it serves, it has been pivotal in reducing the disparities in COVID-19 infection rates in the impoverished areas of Boyes and Agua Caliente Hot Springs as well as the disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination rates among the predominantly Latinx community members.
Our partners at La Luz do this through outreach, education, and direct services at its community clinic.
We’ve also partnered with the county and nonprofit organizations on pop-up clinics in key neighborhoods. At these clinics, we’ve seen vaccine-hesitant individuals decide to get vaccinated when hearing about the vaccine benefits first-hand from our providers—in their language and in the very community they are part of.
We’ve also been able to provide wellness checks and flu shots. One of the most important things we do is to remove these barriers to accessing care, and it is very rewarding to experience the impact of this work first-hand.
The number of programs funded through Kaiser in Marin and Sonoma counties is $6.2 million in 2021 alone. All these outreach efforts would be expansive, but please detail two or three which you think had significant impact in the communities your organization serves and tell us why?
We focus our grant-making on the organizations that address the most pressing health needs in our communities, as well as our most vulnerable residents. One example of this is our support of access to mental health care through grants to organizations such as Side by Side in Marin County and Verity in Sonoma County. Verity’s Trauma Counseling grant provides funding for counseling and group therapy to survivors of sexual trauma, including sex trafficking.
In addition to the mental health focus, another health need we focus on is educational attainment. Two of the educational grants that stand out are Community Child Care Council of Sonoma (4Cs) and Canal Alliance in Marin County.
The Canal Alliance University Prep is a college access and success program that addresses a significant academic achievement gap in Marin County by supporting Latinx youth from low-income, Spanish-speaking families with recent immigration experiences to graduate from high school and obtain a four-year college degree—ultimately to help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.
In an area which has, as we all know, been devastated by fires since 2017 each season, Kaiser has also stepped up to the plate and provided $23.6 million for 65 projects described as fire recovery and rebuilding efforts. Again, describe two or three of those efforts in more detail.
Wildfires and floods left vulnerable communities with inadequate housing, which was made even worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With renters spending 68 percent of their income on rent and one of the highest homeless populations per capita in the Bay Area, we have prioritized funding for housing. In addition to grants to expedite the development of senior and workforce housing, we work to advance policies that expand access to shelters and permanent, supportive housing.
This has been done through our support of organizations like Burbank Housing, Catholic Charities, PEP Housing, Renewal Enterprise District, and Enterprise Community Partners. One of these grants went to the City of Santa Rosa to support an equitable City Plan update.
The funds were used to engage members of the community in the civic process, representing communities that have historically been marginalized due to socioeconomic status, race, and immigration status.
The goal is to ensure Santa Rosa is rebuilt with these core communities in mind, including prioritizing environmental justice, transportation access, and opportunities for affordable housing and employment.
Another example of a fresh approach to addressing the issue of housing was the contribution to the Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation. This $1 million investment will culminate in an on-campus residence set to open in Fall 2022, to address housing insecurity for low-income Sonoma County students, prioritizing those enrolled for at least six semester units and maintaining good academic standing, first-generation college students, current and former homeless students, foster youth, disabled students, active military, and veterans.