By Marin Ij| Kaiser Permanente
As part of our commitment to the total health and well-being of our members and community, Kaiser Permanente has long partnered with local organizations working to improve access to health care, mental and behavioral health, economic opportunity, education, and housing. These community health partnerships also align with our mission to improve health equity and eliminate structural racism as primary health issues in our communities.“Health is more than just what we can provide within our hospital and medical office walls,” says Andrea Garfia, Community Health Manager at Kaiser Permanente San Rafael. “Ina well-child visit, for example, we ask screening questions about early childhood development, and we know that it’s important to support organizations that address economic stability, education, and mental health as they are part of a healthy
life as well.”
Education has been a primary focus of recent Kaiser Permanente grant funding, particularly programs aimed at reducing racial and income disparities. One such program is the Canal Alliance’s afterschool University Preparedness (UP!) program, which supports first-generation Latinx students who wouldn’t otherwise have needed support to get into and complete higher-education programs. “We enroll the entire family and provide wrap-around support, responding to needs such as not having reliable internet at home, not having a place to study, not having access to tutors, and parents who may be working two or three jobs and not available to provide the supervision and help other students receive,” says Omar Carrera, CEO of Canal Alliance. “All of the young people who graduate from our afterschool program will be eligible to go to a four-year college,” Carrera says.
“They enroll with us int he sixth grade and from then on, the question isn’t whether they’re going to go to college; the question is which college.”Another important funding goal for Kaiser Permanente is increasing the number of subsidized preschool slots in the county, through a grant to North Bay Children’s Center in Novato. “We know that about 35 percent of preschoolers or toddlers in Marin County are not enrolled in preschool and that early childhood education is really critical to the trajectory and successful outcomes of education,”says Garfia. “Having a high school diploma is strongly correlated with healthy behaviors, improved quality of life, and higher life expectancy.”