Thoughts from the CEO
Dear CARESTAR community:

Following a tumultuous and “unprecedented” year, 2021 is starting off with its own fireworks. Top of mind for me, even now, is the horrible incident at the Capitol on January 6. Not only because of the difficult images on television or the brazen disregard for democracy and truth, but also for what it confirmed - the depth and breadth of our country’s long history of racism and its ongoing legacy. An impact felt on absolutely everything from first response to our judicial system, on health outcomes to life expectancy.

I am no longer surprised by any individual episodes of anger and violence in our country. Of course, I follow the news, but mostly I try to stay focused on the long game: keeping my head down and doing the more subtle yet crucial and sustainable work of recognizing systemic racism as a public health issue. One that shows up in the data as a pervasive, deadly epidemic.

As part of this work, I have the good fortune of being a participant in the Northern California Grantmakers’ Racial Equity in Action Institute, a training program bringing together a group of cross-sector leaders from around the state to learn, network, and develop actionable strategies that will help each of our organizations to operationalize racial equity. The program is designed to help support those of us who are ready to acknowledge the systemic racism underlying the organizations we work in and the larger cultural norms that support the continuation of those practices. I am humbled to be on this journey with so many like-minded activists.

This month we are so pleased to announce a grant to the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN). Together, along with the California Health Care Foundation, we hope to learn about what local communities want and need from their first responders. We think about this initiative as the first step towards allocating resources in a way that aligns with true need, as articulated by the people who live in these communities. You can read more about this grant below.

In community and partnership,

Grantee Highlight: CPEHN
Our board of directors met on February 18 and approved a $175,000 grant to the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN). Funding from the CARESTAR Foundation will support listening sessions with residents from different communities across the state, lifting up themes and suggestions for how to improve the emergency response system and examine local and state spending on law enforcement, public health, and mental health services to understand where flexibility and innovations may be possible. The goal is to empower local advocates and decision-makers with the information they need to develop community-driven, data-informed policies to support community health and racial equity.

Meet Our New Board Chair: Q&A with Michael Heil
Earlier this year, the CARESTAR Foundation appointed Michael Heil as its new board chair. We recently sat down with Michael to get to know him better and hear his thoughts on CARESTAR, emergency response, and the role that the foundation can play in ensuring all Californians experience an emergency response system that is equitable, unified, and compassionate.
What do you feel is CARESTAR’s most significant accomplishment so far?
As a young organization, one of the things I am particularly proud of is the development of CARESTAR's board of directors. When we launched two years ago, there were just four board members including myself, all with similar backgrounds and professional experiences. Now, we have nine extraordinary individuals who come from many facets of emergency services and policy with expertise in emergency medicine, trauma care, prevention, mental health, pre-hospital care, the list goes on. Our board members also reflect a level of racial and cultural diversity that we very intentionally sought. We know that if we want to come close to achieving our goals, we need to bring together a range of voices and perspectives.
How are current times (COVID-19, the BLM movement) shaping the way you approach your role as board chair?
You know, this convergence of crises we are facing – COVID, racial injustice, economic inequality – is pressure testing our society like never before. It is not that none of these things existed before, but now the weaknesses in our system are even more evident. This includes emergency services. So, our work is even more urgent and important.
What do you see as CARESTAR’s greatest opportunity? Its greatest challenge?
Last year we added racial equity to our mission statement. We are proud of the work we did to add this, but it brings new challenges. Now, we must hold ourselves accountable and ask ourselves: How do we tackle inequities in access to services to improve health outcomes? What role can CARESTAR play to better understand and improve emergency services for all people, especially people of color? Our greatest opportunity is to channel our professional and personal diversity to guide the specific funding initiatives we undertake.
What do you do outside of chairing CARESTAR’s board?
Life has been busier than ever, even with all the recent stay-at-home orders. I continue an active management consulting practice where I work with hospitals on their emergency and trauma care planning and operations. I have also recently started to write a memoir! So far, more chapter headings than content. My wife Bette and I recently relocated to be closer to one of our three sons, and we adopted a new puppy. So never a dull moment!
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Shows How One City is Defunding the Police

What does defunding the police actually mean? The Daily Show with Trevor Noah recently featured a segment highlighting the great work of CAHOOTS, a crisis assistance program reimagining public safety and emergency response in Oregon. Watch now
The CARESTAR Foundation Awards Nearly $4.3 Million in Grants in 2020

We were pleased to recently announce that $4,297,000 in grants from the foundation went to 30 organizations in 2020, supporting innovative organizations, projects, and programs working to improve emergency response across California. Learn more
What We're Seeing & Reading
COVID-19 has already cut U.S. life expectancy by a year. For Black Americans, it’s worse
In the first six months of 2020, life expectancy in the United States dropped by a full year, according to new federal data. Released this month, these latest figures offer a glimpse at the cost of the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Elizabeth Arias, a demographer with the National Center for Health Statistics who served as the report’s lead author. PBS Newshour

Denver successfully sent mental health professionals, not police, to hundreds of calls
Another U.S. city is reporting early success with a program that replaces traditional law enforcement responders with health care workers for some emergency calls. USA Today

Five experts reflect on the health equity implications of the pandemic
As the novel coronavirus swept the globe, structural racism drove its disproportionate impact on communities of color in our nation. As we look ahead to a new year, experts weigh in with thoughts and hope for shaping a healthier, more equitable future. Robert Woods Johnson Foundation
Our Mission: To improve health outcomes for all Californians, we use a racial equity lens to fund and advocate for improvements to our emergency response system.

Our Vision: All Californians experience an emergency response system that is equitable, unified, and compassionate. The lives of people touched by trauma or injury dramatically improve because they receive the appropriate care, services and supports they need to heal and prevent re-injury.

©2021 CARESTAR Foundation. All rights reserved.