Kaiser Permanente is putting its money where its mouth is in standing up to systemic racism in America.
The Oakland-based health giant announced a series of actions on Friday, including $60 million in joint investments and $40 million in grant funding to support businesses owned by Black and other underrepresented individuals. The effort is part of a wider, organization-wide push to address inequity and racism.
Kaiser will work with three organizations to support businesses “to help close the racial wealth gap through access to capital and capacity-building resources,” the company stated.In all, Kaiser said it expects to provide support to more than 2,000 businesses across the country.
The $60 million investment partnership, launched together with national community development organization Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), is designed to strengthen businesses amid Covid-19 by providing business loans between $100,000 and $4 million.
Kaiser is also designating $15 million in grants to increase access to formal training, business networks and recovery and growth capital to help businesses led by Black and other underrepresented groups overcome economic disadvantages. For this effort, Kaiser is partnering with Pacific Community Ventures and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) — two organizations that work with small business owners.
“All across the country, we can see that health and wealth are inextricably linked. Creating pathways for people to get back to work in quality jobs, and for small businesses to get on solid ground and grow, is so important for the well-being of the nation at large,” said Maurice A. Jones, LISC president and CEO.
Kaiser was one of the first health care organizations to recognize the link between trauma and health through a study it conducted along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on adverse childhood events, or ACEs. Studies have indicated that those with four or more ACEs are 12 times more likely to attempt suicide and those with six or more ACEs have a 20-year shorter life expectancy. Research has also shown that Black people experience 11% more ACEs than white people at all income levels.
Along these lines, Kaiser is designating an additional $25 million in grants to build upon its work to address ACEs and trauma. In the coming weeks, Kaiser said it will solicit proposals from community-based organizations, particularly those that are led or governed by Black people or other people of color, that are focused on promoting healing from chronic stress, trauma and grief spurred by systemic racism and social injustice.
“The tragic murder of George Floyd and so many others has reverberated around the world, pushing us to demand overdue change to a status quo that keeps communities of color in the margins and holds us all back as a society,” said Greg A. Adams, Kaiser chairman and CEO, in a statement. “As a country, this is a moment to define who we are and what we stand for. We must take strong action to stop the physical, psychological, economic and social impacts of inequity and systemic racism so that we can create healthier communities where everybody, regardless of their skin color, can feel safe and thrive.”