2020 Accomplishments

Our 2020 accomplishments are organized according to PI's four key strategies:

  • Shape new prevention and health equity solutions and catalyze INNOVATION
  • Build the PRACTICE of effective prevention
  • Advance POLICY AND SYSTEMS change in support of health, safety, and wellbeing
  • Generate MOMENTUM for comprehensive prevention and health equity

Although we are listing each accomplishment under one strategy, our efforts typically span multiple strategies.


Shaped new prevention and health equity solutions and catalyzed INNOVATION. In 2020, that included creatively adapting to the crisis environment.

Pushed for equity in the COVID-19 response

Rooted in a firm commitment to closing unjust health gaps, PI worked with local, state, and federal partners to embed equity into COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.

With the Los Angeles County Departments of Public Health and Health Services and the Center for Strategic Partnerships, we prepared an integrated plan to reduce COVID-19 transmission and health inequities and invest in community-based infrastructure in LA County’s highly impacted communities.

In California, we formed a COVID-19 Public Health and Health Equity Collaborative with ChangeLab Solutions, Public Health Advocates, and the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network to develop a COVID-19 policy agenda that supports equitable recovery across the state.

At the federal level, PI demanded equitable COVID-19 relief bills and spoke out in op-eds like this piece in California Health Report: Opinion: Society Designed the Systems That Created COVID-19 Inequalities — We Can Redesign Them

This work was supported by the Ballmer Group, Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Endowment, and The California Wellness Foundation. NOTE: Prevention Institute relies only on unrestricted funds to support our limited grassroots and direct lobbying efforts.

Photo by the Mission Food Hub.

Accelerated youth leadership in prevention

We’ve seen what can happen when young people step into leadership roles in social justice movements. That’s why we’ve been hosting young organizer circles where 14- to 22-year-olds:

  • Inspire each other and connect with peers, leaders, and opportunities
  • Gain skills and knowledge to advance racial justice and health equity
  • Re-imagine intergenerational partnerships where there is true collaboration and power-sharing with young people.

PI spotlighted the work of young prevention leaders by co-creating a social media video with youth leaders in Albuquerque (MC ID: How we’re staying connected) and helping youth leaders in San Diego place newspaper op-eds (Commentary: We are three young black men living in City Heights. This is why we protest.)

This work was supported by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, the Langeloth Foundation, Movember, and the Well Being Trust.

Stood up for public health

During 2020, public health officials were harassed, fired, and pressured to alter public health guidance to suit political agendas. PI used its communications wherewithal to insist on evidence-based approaches to public health and spotlight the problem of chronic underinvestment in critical infrastructure:

We also spoke out about the need to invest in state and local governments:

This work was supported by Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Endowment, and The California Wellness Foundation. NOTE: Prevention Institute relies only on unrestricted funds to support our limited grassroots and direct lobbying efforts.

Photo by Andrea Buffa.

Boosted park equity advocacy to new heights

PI engaged a community advisory board of seven power-building organizations to advise UCLA’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences on the development of a groundbreaking model demonstrating the link between park access and life expectancy—a novel contribution to the evidence base. We used this research to develop an advocacy toolkit that community-based organizations can use to push for park equity anywhere in the country.

In December, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation selected PI as its planning partner for a forthcoming national initiative: Building Momentum for Park and Green Space Equity in Small and Midsize Cities.

These breakthroughs build on more than a decade of work making the connection between park equity and health equity.

This work was support by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, and Urban Institute.


Built the PRACTICE of effective prevention.

Celebrated five years of Making Connections for Mental Wellbeing

In 2015, Prevention Institute and Movember set out with a diverse group of coalitions from urban and rural communities across the country to transform their communities to better support boys’ and men’s mental health and wellbeing.

The results of the Making Connections initiative have been truly inspiring. Leaning into their communities’ priorities and assets, the coalitions shifted policies, practices, and norms to create greater opportunities for health and resilience for veterans, military service members, and boys and men of color.

To share the solutions developed by Making Connections coalitions and support other communities wanting to use similar approaches, we developed the Making Connections Backpack, a guide to creating gender- and culture-informed, community-level approaches to improving mental health and wellbeing.

This work was supported by Movember.

Photo by Jill Hodges. This photo was taken prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Supported community coalitions as they pivoted to operate during a pandemic

We work with community partners across the country through multi-site communities of practice, including the Intersections Initiative, Communities of Care, Safety Through Connection, and the Built Environment Policy Advocacy Fund, among others.

In 2020, deepening work with these communities of practice meant supporting their journeys as they engaged and organized while maintaining physical distance and responding to the worst aspects of the pandemic.

PI provided more frequent and intensive (virtual) coaching to these community coalitions. We also worked with funders to activate strategic response funding, modify workplans, and adapt reporting requirements consistent with the rapidly changing context on the ground.

The ability of these grassroots coalitions to respond quickly in a time of crisis was possible because of the work they’ve done over time to build a foundation of trust and connection within their communities.

The communities of practice PI supports are funded by Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Endowment, First 5 LA, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, Movember, Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, and St. Joseph Health Community Partnership Fund.

Photo of participants in the Built Environment Policy Advocacy Fund.

Pioneered a successful model to stop gender-based violence.

PI’s Safety Through Connection initiative engages organizations that don’t typically address intimate partner violence and brings them into the work of promoting safe relationships. Launched in 2018, the initiative involves community coalitions in four California cities whose primary work focuses on issues such as worker rights, mental health, and nutrition and physical activity. Now those coalitions incorporate strategies that support equitable relationships and non-violent problem solving into their efforts on issues such as eviction prevention, COVID-19 contact tracing, and immigrant rights.

Safety Through Connection was recognized by the Community Justice Action Fund in its 2020 policy agenda as a model of success to stop gender-based gun violence. CJAF’s policy agenda is a comprehensive, grassroots policy framework driven by communities of color directly impacted by violence.

This work was supported by the Blue Shield of California Foundation.

Photo by CBDIO Fresno.

Spoke out for a multisector response to the pandemic.

While standing up for public health departments that were under-resourced and under fire, we drew attention to the positive contributions other sectors could make in supporting communities’ physical and mental health.

In the early days of the pandemic, we made the case that parks, beaches, and trails should be kept open safely so that the public could receive the lifesaving health benefits parks bestow (If we can safely distance at the grocery store, surely we can do the same at parks, Cal Matters). We also encouraged the safe re-opening of farmers markets to expand access to fresh foods and help keep small farmers afloat. (Farmers markets provide healthy food and support local economies. Keep them open during Covid-19 lockdowns, STAT)

On our blog, we shared stories of how community organizations and coalitions won policy changes from schools, public transit agencies, and businesses to address needs created by the pandemic and its economic fallout.

This work was supported by the Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Wellness Foundation, and Movember.

Photo by Satoko Arw on Instagram.

Affirmed our commitment to fight against racism and insist on racial justice.

In January 2020, we announced that one of our priorities for the year would be to elevate racial justice across our efforts, because we know that racism is a threat to public health and that we can’t achieve better health outcomes for everyone if we don’t take on racism. To assist us in embedding racial justice throughout all work streams of the organization, we hired racial justice leader Rinku Sen to work with staff and conduct an audit of PI’s reports, presentations, and communications materials. We applied what we learned from this work to inform our organization’s processes and direction as well as our support for the grassroots mobilization for Black lives that was sparked by the murder of George Floyd (End racism. Our lives depend on it, Black lives matter: Coming together to take action. We also welcomed Natoya Walker Minor and Judge Sharon Burney to our board of directors, both of whom bring leadership that bolsters our efforts to achieve health equity and racial justice.

This work was supported by multiple funders.

Photo by Marley Pollack on Instagram.

Created resources to support mental wellbeing

The COVID-19 pandemic intensified the social isolation that was already prevalent in many communities across the US and created an urgent need for new types of supports.

PI hosted webinars that shared lessons learned from one population, such as seniors, or one field, such as education, with organizations that work with other populations and in other systems. The webinars were attended by nearly 900 people who exchanged resources for creating social connectedness in a time of physical distancing and preventing youth suicide and trauma in the context of school closures.

As the racial justice protests unfolded, we highlighted partner organizations that apply a racial justice lens to strengthening mental health and wellbeing. And we championed initiatives that commit to health justice as essential to mental wellbeing for children, youth, and families of color.

PI also developed online skills modules about preventing suicide and trauma during catastrophic events like pandemics and wildfires.

This work was supported by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, Movember, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Photo by sphakos / CC BY 2.0.


Advanced POLICY AND SYSTEMS CHANGE in support of health, safety, and wellbeing

Partnered to push for safety through racial justice

Building on more than two decades of work with cities, we partnered with Alameda County, Multnomah County, Santa Clara County, and the City of Minneapolis to help these locales respond to the nationwide call to reimagine public safety and invest in community-based approaches that prevent violence. Through this work, we emphasized that a successful public health approach to preventing violence acknowledges racism and other forms of discrimination.

We brought this message to the American Public Health Association Annual meeting through a featured panel and several other sessions on the topic.

We also partnered with organizations like Cities United to reach a broader national audience with this message, such as in this op-ed in The Trace: Are Cities Willing to Cut Police Spending and Invest in Community Violence Prevention?

This work was supported by The California Wellness Foundation, CARESTAR Foundation, and Langeloth Foundation.

Photo by Sean Lee from Unsplash.

Promoted a comprehensive approach to reduce adverse childhood experiences in California

In 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris set an ambitious goal to reduce adverse childhood experiences by 50% within a generation.

In 2020, PI partnered with the California Funders Workgroup on Prevention and Equity to develop Beyond Screening: Achieving California's Bold Goal of Reducing Exposure to Childhood Trauma, which explores approaches that seek to prevent adverse childhood experiences by strengthening mental health and wellbeing, supporting community healing from trauma, and building community resilience.

PI’s executive director served as a senior reviewer of the surgeon general’s report, Roadmap for Resilience: The California Surgeon General's Report on Adverse Childhood Experiences, Toxic Stress, and Health.

PI also served on the Equity Advisory Group for All Children Thrive CA to develop healthy, safe, and strong communities for children and youth to reach their full potential and ensure state investments in these efforts are equitable and racially just.

The California Funders Workgroup for Prevention and Equity is comprised of Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, Sierra Health Foundation, and St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund. PI’s support for the workgroup was funded by Blue Shield of California Foundation and The California Endowment.

Championed federal actions to support healthy and more inclusive communities

In 2020, PI insisted that federal policymakers pursue policies and investments to end racialized segregation from opportunity and significantly strengthen the country’s public health and prevention infrastructure. We:

  • Partnered to successfully secure another funding increase for CDC’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program and strengthen language in the Health Equity and Accountability Act to include community-level mental health efforts.
  • Advocated for equitable COVID-19 relief bills, humane immigration reform (as members of the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition), a complete and inclusive census, and safe voting access. Our federal advocacy efforts emphasized community-driven solutions and the leadership of activists and organizers.
  • Amplified the priorities of our advocacy partners, including National League of Cities and Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

NOTE: Prevention Institute relies only on unrestricted funds to support our limited grassroots and direct lobbying efforts.

Photo credit: Village of Richton Park.

Facilitated advocacy for safe, healthy, and equitable communities.

Throughout 2020, PI created opportunities for policy advocacy:

In April, we co-developed the policy platform for and co-led ENACT Day, a grassroots lobbying day that connects community representatives with California elected officials. The 21 legislative visits, which focused on access to healthy food and housing, preventing community violence and trauma, and justice for immigrants were conducted via Zoom.

In September, we partnered with the Community Health Planning and Policy Development Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA) to organize the “day of action” that takes place during the APHA annual meeting. The Safer Communities through Racial Justice: Coordinated Virtual Action brought together more than 400 participants with nine local and national violence prevention leaders to tweet, phone bank, and volunteer in support of community safety and racial justice campaigns.

PI also funded seven organizations to advocate for park equity, transit equity, and healthy food systems policies through the Built Environment Policy Advocacy Fund (BEPAF).

This work was supported by The California Endowment, CARESTAR Foundation, First 5 LA, and Langeloth Foundation. NOTE: Prevention Institute relies only on unrestricted funds to support our limited grassroots and direct lobbying efforts.


Generated MOMENTUM for comprehensive prevention and health equity

Amplified the voices of Black leaders in public health and prevention.

The massive 2020 mobilization to support Black lives provided an opportunity to highlight the voices and perspectives of Black-led organizations, their leaders, and their activists. We worked with our staff, board members, and partners to lift up Black voices for prevention and public health by:

This work was supported by Affirm Cares, The California Endowment, the CARESTAR Foundation, Langeloth Foundation, and Movember.

Photo by Valerie D Moore on Instagram.

Served in advisory roles to advance the field of public health

Throughout 2020, Prevention Institute staff advocated for upstream solutions, community-level approaches, health equity, and racial justice by serving as advisory board and steering committee members for the following initiatives:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians’ Lifestyle Medicine Initiative
  • CalAIM (California Advancing Innovation in Medi-Cal) Population Health and Open Enrollment Workgroup
  • California Department of Health Care Services Proposition 64 Advisory Board
  • California Wellness Plan Implementation Executive Committee
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Action Council
  • CDC Violence Prevention Policy Network
  • Families USA Health Equity Taskforce for Delivery and Payment Transformation
  • FRIENDS National Center for Community Based Child Abuse Prevention, National Advisory Council
  • Health Promotion Practice Editorial Board
  • Los Angeles County Climate Vulnerability Assessment Advisory Committee
  • Los Angeles County Prevention and Population Health Taskforce
  • Safe Clean Water Program Regional Oversight Committee
  • Trust For America’s Health’s Well Being Working Group

This work was supported by the American Academy of Family Physicians and by multiple funders across all our program areas.

Made the case that health equity depends on racial justice.

Prevention Institute urged public health and health equity practitioners to take on the unjust and unfair health outcomes that are connected to racism, discrimination, and other forms of racial injustice. Building Bridges: The Strategic Imperative for Advancing Health Equity and Racial Justice identifies five strategic opportunities for collaboration among health equity and racial justice advocates. Our short video, If you want to talk health, you have to talk racial justice, explains why we can’t achieve health as a nation without taking on structural racism.

This work was supported by Affirm Cares, The California Endowment, and The California Wellness Foundation.

Photo by Sarah Mittermaier.

Moving into 2021

As we start a new year—under a new administration—we know there is still so much we must do, and we're inspired to move forward.

2020 was a revealing year in so many ways. Among them, we saw the power and promise of organizing at the community level, such as the organizing for voting rights and voter enfranchisement that resulted in previously unseen engagement in our electoral process. In contrast, we also experienced the glaring inequities laid bare by the pandemic and the risk that inequities will only be exacerbated as we move to recovery. And, we experienced the real and deadly consequences—especially on communities of color and communities of low income—of neglecting our public health system and infrastructure.

The promise of advocacy juxtaposed against the harms created by our many broken systems has shaped our plans for 2021. As we continue our journey to elevate racial justice, deeply engage communities of practice, and embed the pillars of wellbeing into our efforts, we will also prioritize:

  1. Building capacity for prevention and health equity policy advocacy;
  2. Insisting on and helping to shape an equitable recovery; and
  3. Broadening the boundaries of and strengthening the country’s public health and prevention infrastructure.
  • Building capacity for prevention and health equity policy advocacy. To build momentum toward healthier, more just systems, we will continue to build capacity for policy advocacy. This includes supporting young leaders in organizing for systems change; building the policy advocacy skills of parents with young children to redress land use inequities in our role as intermediary to First 5 LA’s Built Environment Policy Advocacy Fund; partnering with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to design a national initiative, Building Momentum for Park and Green Space Equity in Small and Midsize Cities, that elevates the importance of policy advocacy; and, in partnership with others, looking to center people of color as leaders of racial justice policy work.
  • Insisting on and helping to shape an equitable recovery. In 2021, our country will need support to recover from the multiple assaults of 2020—the COVID-19 pandemic, the devastating economic crisis, a barrage of racism, and an attack on our democracy, among others. Prevention Institute will work for an equitable recovery—one that replaces old structures that created inequities with new ones that are designed for equity and justice. This includes supporting an equitable vaccine roll-out; standing up for public health leaders and public health science to guide actions; and co-developing policy solutions and community actions that, among other things, support food security, housing security, mental wellbeing, community safety, and healing from trauma. Our policies and actions will address the underlying factors and systems that have placed communities of color and others at disproportionate harm.
  • Broadening the boundaries of and strengthening the country’s public health and prevention infrastructure. We will prioritize efforts grounded in racial justice and health equity that emphasize community-driven solutions and leadership. Through strengthening our partnerships and alliances, carrying out policy analysis and advocacy, and strategic communications and narrative change, we will contribute to building a system of prevention that can achieve a healthy and equitable future for all communities. This includes efforts to increase federal investments in community-level prevention initiatives and expand the public health and prevention workforce to reflect the priorities and leadership of communities that have been most harmed by structural racism and violence.

We look forward to continuing with you on this journey.