Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest integrated health system, announced a series of actions — including $60 million in joint investments and $40 million in grant funding — to address systemic racism and lack of economic opportunities that have persisted for far too long and prevented communities of color, and especially Black communities, from achieving total health. This announcement comes as Kaiser Permanente deepens its 75-year commitment to equity and inclusion and sends a clear message that the organization stands with those who are fighting for equity and social justice.
“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, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. “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.”
Support for businesses led by Black and other underrepresented communities
As a critical step toward supporting communities in overcoming systemic and structural disadvantages, Kaiser Permanente will provide support to more than 2,000 businesses owned by Black and other underrepresented people across the country. Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by a lack of economic opportunity, living under sustained financial strain that creates multiple barriers to good health. The health crisis and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic are hitting low-income and communities of color — particularly Black communities — disproportionately hard, threatening to widen the health equity gap in even further.
To support businesses led by Black and other underrepresented individuals, Kaiser Permanente and our friends at LISC have launched a $60 million investment partnership to strengthen businesses in the wake of COVID-19. Kaiser Permanente is also designating grant dollars to increase access to formal training, business networks, and recovery and growth capital to help businesses led by Black-and other underrepresented groups overcome systemic economic disadvantage. Pacific Community Ventures and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) — two organizations with expertise in the needs of these small-businesses owners — will be strategic partners in this work.
Closing the advice gap for business owners of color
Pacific Community Ventures’ virtual BusinessAdvising.org platform provides underserved small business owners with expert, pro bono advising to foster sustainable growth and create high-quality jobs that are good for workers and good for the business.
History with Kaiser Permanente
PCV has provided coaching services to ICIC program participants since 2018, with some support from Kaiser Permanente. The partnership between Kaiser Permanente and PCV will scale the Business Advising program across Kaiser Permanente’s footprint, expanding the scope of training and resources offered to advisors and SBOs during their mentorships.
It will also enable PCV to create expanded content and recruit more advisors to help small businesses access COVID-19 relief resources, information about ways to pivot their business models to meet market demand, and improve their chance of survival and recovery.
At the same time, it will help us expand the reach of PCV’s Good Jobs, Good Business toolkit, launched online last year, supports small business owners in creating higher-quality jobs to prioritize employee health and safety alongside business health, especially in low-and-moderate income communities, to increase community wealth-building, and address historic racial wealth gaps.
Grassroots efforts to end systemic racism and break cycles of trauma
Kaiser Permanente also announced actions to help end systemic racism and break the cycles of stress and trauma that lead to poor health outcomes.
Kaiser Permanente was one of the first health care organizations to recognize the link between trauma and health through the landmark adverse childhood events, or ACEs, study it conducted along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The research found that traumatic childhood events — which include systemic racism as well as abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction — are associated with a long-lasting, exaggerated stress response that has been linked to risky health behaviors and chronic health conditions. Previous studies have indicated that those with 4 or more ACEs are 12 times more likely to attempt suicide and those with 6 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.
Kaiser Permanente is designating an additional $25 million in grants to build upon its work to address ACEs and trauma and to support grassroots efforts to end systemic racism. In the coming weeks, Kaiser Permanente 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 dismantling discriminatory institutional practices and structures and/or on promoting healing from chronic stress, trauma, and grief that stems from systemic racism and social injustice.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.