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Broadband internet access remains out of reach for many. But during the last 16 months, the Humboldt Area Foundation and the Wild Rivers Community Foundation, have been supporting tech access throughout the region with more than $623,000 in technology grants from the foundations’ COVID-19 Regional Response Fund.
Getting more folks connected to the internet is critical. Why? Access to the internet means access to work, access to school, health resources, and so many other things. It’s so deeply integrated into our society that those without access are at an immediate sociological disadvantage. In fact, in 2016, the United Nations added the freedom to express oneself on the internet to its Universal Declaration of Human Rights to include human right,
Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center shared its findings from the 2021 Mobile Technology and Home Broadband report. While the report finds that the majority of Americans are connected to high-speed internet, still 38 percent of rural households remain without reliable broadband internet. Thousands of those folks are living in Curry, Del Norte, Humboldt, and Trinity counties without advanced internet connections as the on-going COVID-19 pandemic transforms school and work life for many. HAF and WRCF are committed to closing the technology gap among families in need of tech access.
Within a week of California and Oregon’s 2020 statewide shelter-in-place orders, HAF and WRCF created the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, which grew to $3,397,339 thanks to generous contributions from our donors and funders.
The response money also included a special COVID technology fund, designed to support the community as work and school shifted online. Since its inception, HAF and WRCF have partnered with local school districts, Tribal governments, nonprofits, and individuals, with more than 63 technology grants distributed as of this writing.
Two things became clear as the foundations distributed the funds. First, in rural areas, people can be hard to connect to for many reasons, whether that’s due to technology access, remoteness, or personal choice. Second, communities of color suffer the most and local health officials have collected ample evidence that Native American and Latinx communities were particularly hard hit with a disproportionate number of positive COVID-19 cases. It seems communities most impacted by COVID-19 are often the same people who lack access to suitable internet technology.
Here are some recent highlight grants that HAF and WRCF have made to boost tech access and ensure our community members could make the transition to online working and learning:
● A recent $12,500 grant to the Wiyot Tribe will help residents connect to SpaceX’s satellite-based Starlink internet service. This satellite-based internet service will connect Wiyot community members who are otherwise unreachable by other Internet providers.
● The foundation supported the Hoopa Valley’s Tribal TANF with $5,000 for iPads and internet connectivity so expectant parents could continue to take Motherhood is Sacred/Fatherhood is Sacred parenting classes when quarantine restrictions meant meeting in person wasn’t an option.
● Over the last 15 months, more than 250 Chromebooks, iPads and other computers have been given to individuals and nonprofits.
As part of the foundation's 10 year strategic vision, HAF and WRCF are committed to addressing the issues around broadband internet access, and technology grants are just one way to achieve that goal. The Foundations’ strategic plan envisions “a thriving, just, healthy and equitable region,” which is supported by four goal areas:
● Racial Equity
● Healthy Ecosystems
● Thriving Youth and Families
● A Just Economy and Economic Development
When youth and families thrive, we all thrive. That’s why supporting ‘thriving youth and families’ is one of HAF+WRCF’s goal areas. In the early days of the pandemic, HAF and WRCF granted more than $23,000 to the Humboldt County Office of Education, the Trinity Alps Unified School District, and the Fortuna Union School District to provide dozens of hotspots and tech supplies to families throughout the foundation’s service region.
For too long, our neighbors in the underserved remote communities in Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt, and Curry counties have been excluded from the current technology revolution because they can’t rely on a cellular phone, let alone a broadband internet connection. These disparities are even more drastic when it comes to access for Native communities. HAF and WRCF also consider addressing issues around racial equity as a top goal, and recent grants are ensuring underserved communities can close technology gaps.
Organizations like Central De Pueblo and the Seventh Generation Fund work closely with our BIPOC community members, but like many nonprofits, these groups saw many challenges as they grappled with COVID. HAF and WRCF helped these groups meet basic technology needs with a $9,000 grant for tech and office supplies to support this online transition. Other groups that serve historically marginalized populations have received funding for telehealth technology, remote work stations, and much more (Read more about the transitions and challenges these nonprofits faced during the pandemic in our State of the Sector Report).
Of course, the technology gap won’t close with the end of the pandemic. HAF and WRCF remain committed to addressing these technology and connectivity needs through innovative partnerships with our local community members, especially when closing the technology gap can help create “a thriving, just, healthy and equitable region.”
Click here to learn more about supporting the Pacific Redwoods Missing & Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) Crisis Action Fund
Homicide is the third leading cause of death for Indigenous women and girls. In some Tribal communities, Indigenous women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average.
These rates are disproportionately high in the Pacific Redwoods region, which accounts for two-thirds of California’s MMIP cases. California is home to the nation’s fifth-highest number of MMIP incidents.
MMIP Awareness Day, which takes place on May 5, is a national effort to draw attention and resources to address this devastating pattern of violence and injustice.
The Foundations, which are supporting Native leaders’ efforts to end this tragedy, today announced that they are launching The Pacific Redwoods Missing & Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) Crisis Action Fund with seed funding from individual donors and the Foundations’ discretionary fund.
The fund will support regional research, policy advocacy, crisis response and recovery, and will aim to close technical assistance gaps. It will also allow for the Foundations’ continued partnership with Tribal leaders and Indigenous experts to facilitate community support and address the root causes of this public safety threat.
“The national tragedy of MMIP has been all but ignored by philanthropy,” said Bryna Lipper, CEO of the Humboldt Area and Wild Rivers Community Foundation. “These are our girls, our friends, our community. Their absence is devastating to us all. Today, and every day until it is no more, we are called to face the crisis that is Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons. We can do something to end this now.”
California’s most populous Tribe, the Yurok Nation, has developed internationally recognized MMIP justice efforts, working with the region’s Inter-Tribal Court to advocate for public and philanthropic resources, elevate research, and help bridge barriers to services. Some of those barriers are a result of legal and jurisdictional issues arising from a 1950’s era Congressional Act known as Public Law 280 (or PL 280), which applies to California and five other states. Tribes were neither consulted nor consented to the sweeping change.
This law has been used as justification to deny law enforcement funding to Tribes and has “dramatically altered criminal justice in Indian Country,” according to the Department of Justice’s Institute for Justice.
"We, al of those who are left behind, are failing. Our people are going missing. They are being trafficked and murdered," said Judge Abby Abinanti, Yurok Tribal Court Chief Justice. “We will not stop fighting for a fair and reasonable share of resources for our region, for our people, and our justice partners. Failures are mounting and we must unite and ensure justice as the right of all.”
You can help by getting involved in Missing and Murdered Indigenous People’s Awareness Day on Thursday, May 5. Community members are invited to:
“The Foundations will continue to support and partner with Tribal and community leaders to advocate for awareness and healing. We will also champion efforts to advocate with our elected leaders and educate the public about the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous victims,” said Paula (Pimm) Tripp-Allen, Senior Advisor to the Humboldt Area Foundation. “With sustained efforts of philanthropic support and public action, we can begin to work together to forge a path of healing and prevention of this national and local crisis.”
For more information on how to support Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Awareness Day and the Pacific Redwoods Missing & Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) Crisis Action Fund, please visit the HAF+WRCF Giving Page.
About Pacific Redwoods Missing & Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) Crisis Action Fund
The epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous people (MMIP) is a national humanitarian crisis, with California ranking fifth in the nation for incidents of MMIP, and the far north of the state accounting for most cases. The Pacific Redwoods Missing & Murdered Indigenous People’s Crisis Action Fund supports prevention and response to violence against Indigenous people in our region. Your investment in the Pacific Redwoods Missing & Murdered Indigenous People’s Crisis Action Fund supports regional research, policy advocacy, crisis response, recovery, and more. Funds allow for our continued partnership with Tribal leaders and Indigenous experts to facilitate community support and address the root cause of this public safety threat.
About Humboldt Area Foundation and Wild Rivers Community Foundation
The Foundations serve the residents of Humboldt, Trinity, Del Norte Counties in California and Curry County in Oregon, along with 26 Tribal Nations and Indigenous territories by promoting and encouraging generosity, leadership and inclusion to strengthen our communities. We envision a thriving, equitable, healthy, and just region for the generations ahead.
As the line for vaccine doses shrank, a group of participants started doing Zumba. The fair provided several activities, like dancing and face painting, to bring as many families as possible in to get vaccinated. Photo By Kris Nagel
More than most, Loleta resident Yohana Castillo, 36, has experienced unexpected and tremendous loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past eight months, she has lost four people. First her cousin, Esteban Gonzalez, of Esteban’s Mexican restaurant in Arcata, died of complications from the disease. Then another cousin, followed by a distant family member in Mexico City and, finally, her neighbor.
Seeing the effects the virus had on her family and wanting to protect their 4-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter, Castillo and her husband decided to get vaccinated.
“Now that I’m vaccinated, I feel safer going out, seeing my family,” she told the Journal in Spanish.
Since receiving her vaccination, Castillo has been on a quest to help as many people in her community get vaccinated by making sure they understand what the protection can do. She was able to help the rest of her family get their vaccines.
“I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through,” she said. “I want everyone to have the opportunity to feel safe the way I feel safe.”
Castillo likes to be involved in her daughter’s school activities and met True North Organizing Network organizing director Julia Lerma through a virtual event. They began talking about their lives and Castillo’s recent losses when Lerma told her about True North’s planned efforts to help the county’s Latinx population get vaccinated. Castillo jumped on board and quickly became a volunteer organizer for the Eureka-based nonprofit.
Humboldt’s Latinx population is still lagging behind in vaccination rates despite seeing disproportionate rates of infection. As of July 15, about 45 percent of Humboldt County’s Latinx population had received at least one dose of the vaccine compared to about 50 percent of the county’s non-Hispanic/Latinx population. Meanwhile, residents identifying as Hispanic and Latinx continue to make up 23 percent of the county’s positive COVID cases despite making up only 12 percent of the county’s population. Statewide, roughly 43 percent of the Latinx population has received at least one dose of the vaccine compared to 53 percent of the population overall, while Latinx residents account for 56 percent of COVID-19 cases despite making up 39 percent of the population, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Local efforts to reach the Latinx community with COVID-19 safety and vaccination information have been challenging, as has been the case statewide and nationally. Many Hispanic and Latinx Humboldt County residents have reported finding it challenging to find accurate information in Spanish, though public health has staffed its COVID-19 information line with Spanish speakers and has translated COVID information and social media posts hoping to reach non-English speakers.
There are a variety of reasons vaccine hesitancy may be more pervasive in the Hispanic and Latinx population than other demographics.
“Compared to white adults, larger shares of unvaccinated Hispanic adults say they are concerned about missing work due to vaccine side effects, that they might have to pay out of pocket for the vaccine (despite it being free), not being able to get the vaccine from a trusted place, or having difficulty traveling to a vaccination site,” states a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Among Hispanic adults, the shares expressing many of these concerns are even greater among those with lower incomes, the uninsured, and those who are potentially undocumented.”
Humboldt County Health Officer Ian Hoffman has repeatedly said offering local employees time off to get vaccinated and even sick leave if they experience side effects would reduce barriers locally, though it’s unclear how many businesses are doing it.
True North, meanwhile, has worked to get translated health and safety information to Humboldt’s Latinx community, while also working with the vaccine hesitant and creating more comfortable environments for Latinx community members to get vaccinated in. And so the idea of the family friendly vaccine fair was born and the nonprofit started planning a festive event that would feel distinctly different than the mass vaccination clinics being organized by public health.
Before the fair, Castillo and True North spent time canvassing in Latinx communities at churches, mercados and neighborhoods, posting Spanish-language flyers about the vaccine fair with phone numbers — including her own — for those hesitant about the COVID vaccine to call for more information. Castillo told those who called about her story why she decided to get the vaccine and her experience getting her shot.
“They’re afraid of getting a reaction,” Castillo said. “We have a group of three people working to talk to people and I haven’t heard a different concern but that they’re all afraid to get a bad reaction to the vaccine. So, we always tell them to talk to their doctor — sometimes they begin to tell me what (medical conditions) they have, and I can’t answer that, but we give them the information we can.”
The day of the vaccine clinic last month was unusually warm and drizzly. In front of the COVID-19 vaccine clinic at College of the Redwoods gymnasium, Castillo and True North’s team of volunteer organizers set up a sound system for music and tables, one for snacks filled with pan dulce, water and juice, another with kids’ activities, like coloring books and markers, and a third for people to get raffle tickets and free tacos.
The rain didn’t dampen Castillo’s helpful demeanor. She was wearing a mask but smiled with her eyes as she greeted those walking up to the gym, asking them first in Spanish if they were there for their vaccination, then directing them to where they needed to go. If they didn’t speak Spanish, she used the bit of English she knows to direct them. But she was there primarily as a first point of contact for those who only speak Spanish, letting them know there were people there to speak to them in their language. At one point, she held a bundle of balloons that she passed out to kids.
She said she felt happy and emotional at the fair, pointing out that while the fair drew in some folks to get vaccinated, others showed up to get their shots totally unaware of the accompanying activities and free tacos.
Adding to the festive, inviting atmosphere was Jorge Matias, who works for St. Joseph Health and whom True North invited to put on a Zumba lesson. With an energetic charm, Matias got people dancing.
According to the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, a total of 109 people were vaccinated during the June 13 fair, 27 of them walk-ins. In comparison, the week of July 12 saw Public Health’s mobile team vaccinate a total of 97 people at the Humboldt Crabs game and clinics in Rio Dell, Fortuna and Samoa, according to a July 13 COVID update to the board of supervisors.
Public health officials have also said that even registering for a vaccine appointment can pose another barrier for those wanting to get their vaccinations.
During an April meeting with LatinoNet, Hoffman said Public Health’s goal is to ensure vaccine equity for the Latinx community and to guarantee that any Latinx resident seeking a COVID-19 vaccine feels comfortable and confident before, during and after their appointment, which is what True North was able to accomplish with its vaccine fair.
“People really enjoyed the event,” Castillo said. “They felt comfortable and like they were with family, and at ease because there were people there who spoke Spanish.”
True North held another vaccine clinic in Arcata similar to the one at the College of the Redwoods, with raffles, free food and Zumba, but won’t stop there. True North will hold more vaccine fairs in Fortuna and Eureka, continuing with the nonprofit’s mission of making sure everyone has an opportunity to get vaccinated in a setting that makes them comfortable, no matter the distance. Castillo, for one, is excited.
“I think [the future vaccine fairs] will go very well and we’ll be successful because we really want all people to get vaccinated and feel safer at work and at school, with their family and the simple fact of going outside,” Castillo said.
Iridian Casarez (she/her) is a staff writer at the Journal. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 317, or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @IridianCasarez.
The Community Voices Coalition is a project funded by Humboldt Area Foundation and Wild Rivers Community Foundation to support local journalism. This story was produced by the North Coast Journal newsroom with full editorial independence and control.
Community members are invited to apply for grants through the Trinity Trust’s Community Response Grant Program by Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Community Response Grants are designed to help projects where a small investment can make a lasting difference. Additional guidelines are available on the grant application, which can be found at www.hafoundation.org/Affiliates-Region/Trinity-Trust/Grants.
In March, the committee approved over $42,000 in grants, including $14,000 to support the Southern Trinity Volunteer Fire Department and $3,500 to support the Friends of Hayfork Park. Other recipients have included the Ascent Wilderness Experience, the Rel Muk Wintu Nation, the North Fork Grange, and many others.
In March, the committee approved over $42,000 in grants, including $14,000 to support the Southern Trinity Volunteer Fire Department and $3,500 to support the Friends of Hayfork Park. Other recipients have included the Ascent Wilderness Experience, the Rel Muk Wintu Nation, the North Fork Grange, and many others. The grant is offered biannually. 2021’s deadlines are March 15 and October 15.
About the Trinity Trust
The Trinity Trust was created by the residents of Trinity County, California, to improve the quality of life in their region and keep the local capital local and working for the benefit of the community. The Trinity Trust strives to be a leader in communicating the value of keeping local resources and capital within the Trinity County region to support our community’s diverse array of organizations and issues.
About Humboldt Area Foundation
Vera Vietor established the Humboldt Area Foundation in 1972. Since then, more than $80 million in grants and scholarships have been awarded in Humboldt, Del Norte, Curry, and Trinity Counties. Humboldt Area Foundation promotes and encourages generosity, leadership, and inclusion to strengthen our communities.
BAYSIDE, CA (July 9, 2020) – Humboldt Area Foundation and its affiliate, the Wild Rivers Community Foundation, have invested $35,000 for a pilot project to support local journalism in generating truthful, courageous and equitable stories covering vulnerable and traditionally under-represented communities affected by the coronavirus in Humboldt, Trinity, Del Norte and Curry counties. The project will also work to lift community voices and increase access to relevant and useful information people can use. The project involves both nonprofit and for-profit media partners, with the North Coast Journal and Access Humboldt as the initiating lead partners.
CEO Bryna Lipper said: “We at the Humboldt Area and Wild Rivers Community Foundation recognize the vital role of our local media and independent journalism. They are uniquely positioned to understand our region, and its context, history and people. We are proud to support the North Coast Journal and Access Humboldt, and honor their shared commitment to lifting up voices that may not otherwise be heard.
Under the Community Voices Coalition banner, the North Coast Journal will soon publish its first weekly story. The Journal will harness the talent of existing staff and their network of journalists in developing and creating pieces for print. Their investigations, publications, and social media will be conducted with full editorial independence and under their rigorous editorial control.
The Journal will also create an open-source social media channel, where stories can be picked up for distribution, and repurposed by other regional or national media outlets, a successful model similar to CalMatters to provide high-quality non-partisan stories explaining the work of California government.
This pilot project also includes an ambitious collaboration with Access Humboldt. Working with Internews and other regional partners, Access Humboldt will promote community voices to strengthen local media reporting and citizen journalism. Continuing to build on its history of amplifying local perspectives and talent, Access Humboldt will provide media training and manage local cable television and radio channels as a part of the project.
Access Humboldt Executive Director Sean Taketa McLaughlin said: "This pilot project is a both a timely pandemic response and a natural extension of our ongoing efforts to build a sustainable information ecosystem in our region. When local media empower residents to effectively participate in civic life directly addressing local needs and interests, diverse voices tell important stories, information is equally accessible, and the quality of life in our communities improves."
Through Access Humboldt, the Community Voices Coalition will leverage the expertise of Internews, an international nonprofit organization that promotes citizen journalism locally and around the world. With roots in the region, Internews was eager to reinvest in the community and bring its global expertise back to the place where it first empowered local voices.
Access Humboldt and Internews will begin by creating a local advisory/editorial group to guide its project work and facilitate community listening and storytelling. Other communications and media partners, as well as citizen journalists, will be invited to participate. The project budget includes a fund to recruit and compensate story writers recruited for the project, as well as story translation services to better reach non-English speaking groups.
Luis Chabolla, Interim Director of Communications at the Foundation said: “We’re starting by building on the strengths of our partners and working together to stretch the reach and depth of the project. While launched as a three-month pilot, we hope the results will commit us and others to keep the project going.”
The program supports a broad spectrum of wellness efforts, from culture and family support to food and housing security, mental health, and more.
“These grants are especially meaningful during a pandemic, where community members more vividly experience challenges and barriers to health,” says Amy Jester, Program Director for Health & Nonprofit Resources for the Humboldt Area Foundation, which oversees the operations of the Humboldt Health Foundation.
The Humboldt Health Foundation seeks to fund projects that help reduce or eliminate structural barriers to wellness. This year, the majority of funding will be designated to programs that support the health and wellbeing of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other People of Color. “We recognize that BIPOC individuals are disproportionately affected by the pandemic and that racism is a critical public health issue impacting our region,” says Jester.
"The grant program is there to support organizations and groups that are creating opportunities for people to live healthier lives. There are so many awesome ways communities are supporting wellbeing. We're interested in partnering with organizations to make that happen" says Amy Jester, Program Director of the Humboldt Health Foundation.
In March, the Humboldt Area Foundation announced its new 10-year strategic vision, which explores how a community foundation can help grow a thriving, just, healthy, and equitable region. The Foundation has also laid out four goals to support that vision, with resources and programs being developed to address these areas over a 10-year period. The goals are racial equity; healthy ecosystems; thriving youth and families; and a just economy and economic development.
Community health grants from the Humboldt Health Foundation represent a 24-year legacy of supporting our community through investment and grantmaking and underscore the Foundation’s commitment to our region’s health and wellbeing.
To learn more about the criteria and download an application, please visit the HHF website at humhealth.org.
Humboldt Health Foundation was founded in 1997 and is an affiliate of the Humboldt Area Foundation. Since its founding, Humboldt Health Foundation has distributed nearly $4.7 million in grants. Over the past year, the Foundation has given grants for program and general operating support for organizations like HC Black Music and Arts Association, English Express, COVID-19 direct relief for Spanish-speaking and undocumented individuals from the McKinleyville Family Resource Center, as well as the Native Women’s Collective.
Just about everywhere she looks throughout Humboldt County, Wiyot Tribal Administrator Michelle Vassel sees need. There’s a lack of well-paying jobs and rampant food insecurity. There’s a lack of skilled trades labor and affordable housing. And for the Wiyot people, who lived in approximately 20 village sites scattered around Humboldt Bay before first contact, Vassel sees a lack of autonomy over their ancestral territory.
But now, on the near horizon, Vassel also sees a solution to some of the region’s most entrenched problems: Dishgamu Humboldt. Named after the Wiyot word for love, Dishgamu Humboldt is a first-of-its kind community land trust, a partnership between the tribe and Cooperation Humboldt that those involved feel will have a transformational impact on the area.
“I think what excites me most is just working on the concept of place-based healing, and looking at building together as a community and coming together as a community and working on the long-term vision for the place that we all live,” Vassel said, stressing that the project is truly about taking immediate action toward a long-term vision. “We’re looking at multi-generational. We’re looking past 10, 20, 30 years. We’re looking at 100 years, 200 years, 250 years.”
Read the Full Article at the Community Voices Coalition webpage »
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