Non-profit

California Wellness Foundation

Website:

www.calwellness.org/

Location:

WOODLAND HLS, CA

Tax ID:

95-4292101

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)-PF

Budget (2015):

Revenue: $52,277,925
Expenses: $51,030,119
Assets: $870,208,767

Formation:

1992

Type:

Left-of-center grantmaking organization

President:

Judy Belk

The California Wellness Foundation is a grantmaking foundation created in late 1990 and endowed in early 1992 because of the conversion of non-profit California health insurer Health Net into a for-profit health insurance corporation. Announcing the terms of the 1992 endowment, California Wellness stated that it had become the “largest grant-making foundation in America devoted exclusively to health promotion and disease prevention.” [1] As of 2018, California Wellness had paid more than 9,000 grants totaling more than $1 billion. [2]

California Wellness gives several million dollars annually in grants to left-leaning policy advocacy organizations. A least $7.1 million in 2018 was given in donations exceeding $100,000 each to 18 of these left-leaning organizations, such as the New Venture Fund, the Chinese Progressive Association  of San Francisco, the United Farm Workers Foundation, and the National Women’s Law Center. [3] The foundation also allies with or donates to left-of-center advocates of restrictions on firearms ownership, such as March for Our Lives, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and Everytown for Gun Safety. [4] [5]

Background

The California Wellness Foundation was created in late 1990 by Health Net, then a non-profit health insurance company, at a time when many of California’s large non-profit health insurance firms were converting to for-profit corporations. According to a 1992 Los Angeles Times report, a non-profit firm seeking to become for-profit insurer was required to “donate an amount equal to its “fair market value” to charity.” [6] [7]

In exchange for granting an endowment to the California Wellness Foundation, Health Net was granted permission by the state of California to convert to for-profit status in February 1992. The Los Angeles Times report explained the terms of the agreement: “State Corporations Commissioner Thomas S. Sayles required Health Net to donate $75 million to the Wellness Foundation, which will acquire 80% of the Woodland Hills-based HMO, and to donate an additional $225 million plus interest to the foundation over 15 years. Including the interest, Health Net’s contribution will exceed $500 million, Sayles said.” [8]

A February 1992 news release from the California Wellness Foundation stated the endowment from Health Net had turned California Wellness into the “largest grant-making foundation in America devoted exclusively to health promotion and disease prevention.” [9] Then-president Howard A. Kahn said: “We will invest in initiatives for health promotion, disease prevention, and we will seek ways to help Californians adopt healthful lifestyles.” [10]

By 2018, California Wellness had given out more than 9,000 grants totaling more than $1 billion. [11]

The foundation also paid more than $1.7 million to four outside investment advisory firms in 2018. [12]

Left-Leaning Grantmaking

The California Wellness Foundation has been a multi-million-dollar annual donor to left-leaning advocacy organizations.

2018 Grants

According to tax records, the California Wellness Foundation reported $37.3 million in total grants disbursed during the 2018 annual grantmaking cycle. A minimum of $7.1 million of this total was disbursed in grants exceeding $100,000 to 18 organizations with a history of advocating left-of-center public policy:[13]

Additional Left-of-Center Grants

The California Wellness Foundation was one of the original donors to fund the creation of the California Black Freedom Fund (CBFF) at the end of 2020. The CBFF is a left-of-center grantmaking organization that funds left-of-center California-based groups such as Pico California. [14]

The California Wellness Foundation supports the AARP Foundation, a charitable, education, and litigation arm of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). AARP is a
left-leaning organization that supported the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). [15] [16]

In 2017 California Wellness announced a $300,000 pledge to California Coverage and Health Initiatives, a coalition that seeks to enroll undocumented immigrants in healthcare coverage. [17]

In 2018 representatives from the California Wellness Foundation, including president and CEO Judy Belk, participated in March for Our Lives, a Washington, D.C., rally promoting restrictions on firearms ownership. [18] Similarly, the foundation has provided funding for firearms restriction organizations such as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, and the Gifford Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. [19]

Personnel

Judy Belk became CEO and President of the California Wellness Foundation in 2014. Prior to taking this position she had been a senior vice-president for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. [20] Belk’s total compensation for 2018 was at least $632,000. [21]

Three other employees of the California Wellness Foundation received compensation in excess of $300,000 in 2018. In total, at least ten employees (including Belk) received total compensation of $186,000 or more. [22]

Pamela J. Simms-Mackey, M.D., a pediatric medicine physician, became the chair of the foundation board in January 2021. She had been on the board since 2015. [23]

References

  1. “California Wellness Foundation receives endowment, joins ranks of America’s largest health grant makers.” California Wellness Foundation. February 7, 1992. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.calwellness.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/TCWF_endowment_est_1992.pdf ^
  2. “Our Story.” California Wellness Foundation. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.calwellness.org/mission/our-story/ ^
  3. “The California Wellness Foundation.” IRS Form 990. 2018. ^
  4. “Once Again, #Enough.” The California Wellness Foundation. Accessed February 21, 2020. https://www.calwellness.org/stories/once-again-enough/ ^
  5. “March for Our Lives.” Youtube.com. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/user/calwellness ^
  6. Peltz, James. “Health Net Wins For-Profit Status.” The Los Angeles Times. February 8, 1992. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1992-02-08-fi-1192-story.html ^
  7. “California Wellness Foundation receives endowment, joins ranks of America’s largest health grant makers.” California Wellness Foundation. February 7, 1992. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.calwellness.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/TCWF_endowment_est_1992.pdf ^
  8. Peltz, James. “Health Net Wins For-Profit Status.” The Los Angeles Times. February 8, 1992. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1992-02-08-fi-1192-story.html ^
  9. “California Wellness Foundation receives endowment, joins ranks of America’s largest health grant makers.” California Wellness Foundation. February 7, 1992. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.calwellness.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/TCWF_endowment_est_1992.pdf ^
  10. “California Wellness Foundation receives endowment, joins ranks of America’s largest health grant makers.” California Wellness Foundation. February 7, 1992. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.calwellness.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/TCWF_endowment_est_1992.pdf ^
  11. “Our Story.” California Wellness Foundation. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.calwellness.org/mission/our-story/ ^
  12. “The California Wellness Foundation.” IRS Form 990. 2018. ^
  13. “The California Wellness Foundation.” IRS Form 990. 2018. ^
  14. California Black Freedom Fund, February 4, 2021. https://cablackfreedomfund.org/#partners ^
  15. Strassel, Kimberly. “Strassel: The Love Song of AARP and Obama.” The Wall Street Journal. Sept. 20, 2012. Accessed February 21, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390444165804578008413907642282  ^
  16. “The California Wellness Foundation.” IRS Form 990. 2018. ^
  17. “California Wellness Foundation Awards $6.3 Million in Grants.” Philanthropy News Digest. January 16, 2017. https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/california-wellness-foundation-awards-6.3-million-in-grants ^
  18. “March for Our Lives.” Youtube.com. Accessed February 20, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/user/calwellness ^
  19. “Once Again, #Enough.” The California Wellness Foundation. Accessed February 21, 2020. https://www.calwellness.org/stories/once-again-enough/ ^
  20. “Philanthropic Leader Judy Belk Appointed president and CEO of The California Wellness Foundation.” The California Wellness Foundation. Accessed February 21, 2021. https://www.calwellness.org/news/philanthropic-leader-judy-belk-appointed-president-and-ceo-of-the-california-wellness-foundation/. ^
  21. “The California Wellness Foundation.” IRS Form 990. 2018. ^
  22. “The California Wellness Foundation.” IRS Form 990. 2018. ^
  23. “Pamela J. Simms-Mackey, M.D., FAAP: Board chair.” The California Wellness Foundation. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://www.calwellness.org/staff-and-board/pamela-j-simms-mackey/ ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 1991

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Dec Form PF $52,277,925 $51,030,119 $870,208,767 $16,446,860 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $61,302,522 $34,702,606 $941,083,728 $20,006,694 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $45,063,655 $54,483,827 $939,762,194 $32,349,997 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form PF $21,387,217 $49,632,875 $847,982,323 $32,827,300 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form PF $45,684,503 $46,686,589 $794,337,702 $32,998,126 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    California Wellness Foundation

    6320 CANOGA AVE STE 1700
    WOODLAND HLS, CA 91367-2565