Tikun Olam Foundation’s $5 million grant helps create the community connection at nonprofit community health center
Venice Family Clinic, a nonprofit community health center providing comprehensive care to over 45,000 people in need from the Santa Monica Mountains through the South Bay, is expanding and integrating its medical, mental health, early childhood education and other services to young families with an innovative initiative called The Community Connection.
Launched with a $5 million grant from the Tikun Olam Foundation, The Community Connection serves families from the moment they are expecting a child through the first three years of the child’s life.
It is designed to build better health outcomes and foster economic opportunity and increased resilience for the Clinic’s most vulnerable families so they can break the cycle of poverty. The Clinic serves approximately 2,200 new and expecting families. Three out of four of them live at or below the poverty line, which is $26,500 or less in income annually for a family of four, putting them at disproportionate risk for poorer health and economic outcomes.
The Community Connection enhances the Clinic’s support for these families through a comprehensive model of care that expands and integrates six key services: family care teams, doulas and lactation consultants, infant mental health therapy, playgroups, classes and support services, and adult job education and job training.
“With young families facing increasingly complex challenges, Venice Family Clinic developed this model of care to help support the families we serve who have young children,” said Venice Family Clinic CEO Elizabeth Benson Forer. “The Community Connection addresses the inequities that contribute to the cycle of poverty by providing medical care, mental health, early childhood education and social services in a very coordinated way to young families in need. We are especially grateful to the Tikun Olam Foundation of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles for its vision and generosity, which sparked this innovative work and made possible the launch of this program.”
The Tikun Olam Foundation initially provided a generous planning grant in January 2021 that allowed the Clinic to engage key stakeholders in designing a program to address the needs of young families. The Foundation then donated an additional $5 million – the largest programmatic grant in the Clinic’s history – to establish The Community Connection and serve as a lead gift that would encourage other philanthropists to support the program.
“Tikun Olam are Hebrew words that translate to ‘repair the world,’ and The Community Connection is indeed repairing an important part of our world by helping to lift families out of poverty,” said Gene Stein, co-founder of the Tikun Olam Foundation. “We are proud to support Venice Family Clinic in creating this innovative and vital program, and we hope that The Community Connection will inspire other donors to invest in this community health center and in families with young children.”
The Community Connection’s wide range of integrated services to new and expecting families include:
- Family care teams: An interdisciplinary team of pediatricians, therapists, health educators, Early Head Start personnel, case managers and other professionals meet monthly to discuss and coordinate care for high-risk families to ensure they can take advantage of the full range of care that the Clinic offers.
- Doulas and lactation consultation: Doulas assist families with prenatal and postnatal care, helping to support and educate the expecting mother about birth. A certified lactation consultant will help parents navigate potential feeding challenges.
- Infant mental health therapy: Parents have the option to receive therapy to prepare them for parenthood and create healthy, attuned attachment between parent and child.
- Playgroups: Playgroups help children begin to socialize and provide connection for parents who may feel isolated, all while parents learn about healthy child development and connect with other parents in their community.
- Classes and support services: These include classes in parenting skills and family relationships, chronic disease management and prevention, nutrition and healthy cooking, exercise, pregnancy classes and group family classes for parents and children.
- Adult job education and job training: To help families struggling to find good-paying jobs with benefits, Venice Family Clinic will partner with the Los Angeles Unified School District to give parents access to enhanced employment opportunities.
Programs are being offered in person and virtually at several of the Clinic’s 17 sites. A recently purchased new community center for health and wellness in Inglewood will serve as the hub of the program when renovations of the building are completed. Families will be able to access services and connect with one another at this new location.