Other | February 18, 2021

2020 Wildfire Recovery Fund Grantees – Investing in California’s Most Vulnerable Populations

by Jason Boone, Executive Assistant to Senior Vice President / Project Manager

The California 2020 wildfire season was unprecedented: by December, nearly 10,000 fires had burned over 4.2 million acres, more than 4% of the state’s roughly 100 million acres of land.* This devastation alone disrupted and destroyed lives, homes and livelihoods, and exhausted our emergency responders; with the added challenge of living in a global pandemic, it feels like all of California’s public systems and institutions have been stretched thin. And while the wildfires of the past year were some of the worst our state has ever seen and endured, we have every indication that future wildfire seasons will follow suit. This new reality requires new thinking and new approaches to problem-solving, from all of us.

The challenge for CCF was clear: provide relief and recovery to the most vulnerable wildfire-affected communities across the state, while also identifying the most effective ways to seed resiliency for those vulnerable populations. What is also clear — and what directed our grantmaking — are the vulnerabilities created by structural racism which limits access to relief and recovery resources for many Californians following a disaster.

With the above in mind we identified a broad range of organizations and entities whose work in California targets the needs of Native American communities; Muslim communities; non-native English-speaking populations, including migrant farm workers and food workers; deaf people; blind people; people with developmental challenges; and children. We also partnered with organizations which had already provided emergency assistance to wildfire survivors and first responders, filling in unanticipated financial gaps so they can remain solvent and continue to step in and help when disaster strikes again.

As of January 26, 2021, 19 proposals have been funded totaling $4,812,500 in relief, recovery and resiliency grants. Following is a short selection of grantees and the work they are doing:

  • Deaf Plus Adult Community (DPAC): Grant to provide emergency wildfire preparedness trainings and materials to Deaf, hard of hearing, Deaf/Blind, and Deaf Plus communities in wildfire-impacted regions across California via video, online, and face-to-face instruction.
  • Northern California Indian Development Council: Grant to provide services through its Fire Victim Program for Native American households impacted by the North West Complex Fire victims in Butte County, home to five federally recognized Tribes as well as a population of almost 10,000 Native Americans. Funds will support financial assistance and also cover costs for temporary shelter/relocation, replacement of household items, food, and similar expenses as they work through the process with CalOSHA, CalRecycle, US Forest Service, FEMA, Office of Emergency Services (OES), insurance carriers and other similar partners who are working to clean up and repair or replace damaged and destroyed homes.
  • Sierra Health Foundation: Center for Health Program Management: Grant to support regional wildfire relief and resiliency campaigns by making grants to up to four community organizations for wildfire preparedness and related health education programs which target vulnerable populations at increased health risk in California, with a specific focus on rural migrant farmworker communities and on the Hmong and Southeast Asian communities.
  • Listos California: Grant to support efforts to provide additional wildfire preparedness training workshops at food/agricultural workplace sites in California, targeting Punjabi, Filipino and Hmong agricultural and food industry workers; and in support of the Listos California Social Bridging Project, which uses voter registration files as well as other collated call lists to target educational communication to specific populations to share disaster preparedness information and/or wellness checks “in language”, provided by trained calling partners with a specific focus on Asian and Pacific Islander communities. (Valley Vision is the fiscal agent for Listos California, a programmatic arm of CalOES.)

CLICK HERE to see the complete list of CCF’s 2020 Wildfire Recovery Fund Grantees.

Since 2003, the fund has granted more than $24 million to support relief and recovery efforts in the aftermath of devastating California wildfires.

Grants from the Wildfire Recovery Fund have supported those who were displaced or lost housing, belongings and/or employment, or suffered physical or mental health problems; helped to rebuild homes; provided case management services, basic needs assistance, mental health services and financial assistance; upgraded 2-1-1 phone and information system; assisted California wildfire victims with follow-up medical care and supplies; provided in-home care providers, domestic workers, and day laborers with financial assistance, health and safety education; provided financial disaster aid, information on farmworker labor laws, immigration services, and immigrant rights support to low-wage immigrant or mixed status families; and provided firefighters with updated safety equipment.

* https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/2020/

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