SOMOS Fuertes: An Economy of Scale Opportunity that Strengthens Communities

Imagine a community where a network of highly-skilled peer educators and community workers brings together local public institutions, nonprofit organizations, private sector entities and local engaged residents to effectively transform the communities in which, they operate, work, live in, and have a vested interest.

Now, imagine these highly-skilled peer educators and community workers being paid fairly, increasing their ability to exercise their personal power and ensure the success of their own families, neighbors and community.

This is what SOMOS Mayfair’s SOMOS Fuertes Network of United Promotor@s is accomplishing.

In 2012, we began to issue grants under our Disruptive Innovation initiative. The goal of the initiative was to catalyze entrepreneurial thinking and implement creative solutions to existing health and social issues impacting Silicon Valley. Over $1 million was invested in eight organizations, one of which was SOMOS Mayfair.    

What started out as seed funding for a feasibility study on a peer educator job training program, led to pilot funding for SOMOS (We Are) Connected!, and culminated in SOMOS Fuertes Network of United Promotor@s, which recently received support from Google in the form of a three year $500,000 grant!

Currently, SOMOS Mayfair is looking for organizations interested in conducting engagement activities resulting in better understanding of and accountability to the communities in which they operate. What they’re offering is well-trained, highly-skilled Promotor@s to carry out short-term community engagement projects with work that involves conducting community outreach, surveying & focus group facilitation, on-site childcare, advocacy training, and translation and interpretation services.

Working with SOMOS Fuertes Network of United Promotor@s will not only provide organizations a better understanding of the community in which they operate, but it will also result in better outcomes for organizations.  

“I’ve seen up close the difference in quality between hiring SOMOS Mayfair’s Promotor@s child care providers and other organizations. Our families were much better served by the SOMOS team.“  – Elementary School Principal

Truth be told, SOMOS Fuertes has the potential to provide a “quadruple bottom line benefit” for Silicon Valley:

  • impact the social determinants of health
  • increase economic opportunity & income for community members
  • increase the efficiency & effectiveness of nonprofits & public institutions
  • strengthen the sustainability of SOMOS Mayfair

If you are a public institution, nonprofit organization or private sector entity, partner with SOMOS Fuertes Network of United Promotor@s to strengthen the communities in which you operate. Call 408-937-2566 or email

The Health Trust Makes Health Partnership Grants Totaling Over $930,000

For Immediate Release: June 30, 2017
The Health Trust Contact: Maria Garcia, or (408) 513-8729

The Health Trust Makes Health Partnership Grants Totaling Over $930,000

Supporting local organizations to build health equity in Silicon Valley

San Jose, CA, June 30, 2017 – On June 28, 2017, The Health Trust Board of Trustees approved eight health partnership grants totaling $937,108 to support The Health Trust’s mission of building health equity in SIlicon Valley. Specifically, the awarded grants will help increase food security for vulnerable populations, promote physical activity and support our fluoridation initiative.

Breakdown of Grants

The Food Trust
Historically, neighborhood corner stores are known for their easy access to candy, unhealthy snacks and liquor with little to no healthy options for the consumer. Over the last four years, The Health Trust has been a leader in rewriting that narrative by transforming cornerstores into “healthy cornerstores” that offer a wide selection of healthy foods, making the healthy choice an easy choice. The Health Trust is ready to conclude its Healthy Cornerstore Program at the end of the calendar year. Through the support of a $90,320 grant, The Food Trust will ensure that every active store receives the proper technical assistance to ensure its sustainability after the program ends.

Bountiful Churchyards
Faith-based organizations have the potential to serve as a strong food access point for individuals who are homeless. Bountiful Churchyard has been awarded a $49,000 grant to  partner with Farming Hope to provide weekly congregate meals to individuals who are homeless, provide them with employment training, and host monthly pop-up lunches and dinners to support program costs. Immanuel Lutheran Church is located in the Burbank neighborhood in San Jose, which has been identified in the Food for Everyone report as a high-need area with a sizeable population of individuals who are homeless and lack food resources in the vicinity.  

Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
In light of the high number of independent-owned restaurants in San Jose, Catholic Charities developed a network of restaurants called the Senior Bites Network to address the lack of access to Senior Meal Programs or congregate meal sites for low-income seniors. Over the last year, Catholic Charities identified over 10,000 low-income seniors who reside within the Senior Bites Network and partnered with 12 restaurants to offer nutritious meals for seniors with a price point of $5-$6 per meal. In an effort to strengthen the Senior Bites network and through a $50,000 grant, Catholic Charities plans to recruit additional restaurants into the network, evaluate program impact, and develop a sustainability plan.

Valley Verde
In an effort to improve healthy food access and healthy eating for seniors and families, through the support of a $42,000 grant, Valley Verde plans to work at two affordable housing complexes by providing gardens and gardening classes to residents of the Cambrian Center and El Rancho Verde. The goal of the project is to improve food security and decrease food expenses for seniors and families.

California Dental Association Foundation  
The Health Trust has been on the cutting edge of providing dental services to low-income children in Santa Clara County. Through this work we have seen the impact of the lack of fluoride in the water, leading to poor oral health outcomes. Building on the work of the past eight years and through a $149,000 grant, CDAF will continue to provide technical expertise, strategic advice and project management for the Santa Clara County Fluoridation Initiative.

Sun Street Centers
Substance abuse is considered one of the most pressing issues in N. San Benito County. Currently women in need of rehabilitation services are referred out to other counties because said services are not available. In an effort to address this need, The Health Trust has awarded a $50,000 grant to Sun Street Center to create an environment to support the first state-licensed residential substance abuse treatment facility in N. San Benito County, targeting women who are pregnant or have custody of young children.

City of San Jose  
Promotion of physical activity is instrumental for the health and wellbeing of our communities. Through carefully designed routes that include some of San Jose’s low-income neighborhoods, and with the support of a $20,000 grant, the City of San Jose will continue the work of Viva CalleSJ. Viva CalleSJ promotes the inclusivity of all communities, regardless of socioeconomic status into physical activities in many forms, including walking, biking, or running in neighborhoods throughout San Jose.

Public Health Institute
Through the support of a $486,788 grant, The Public Health Institute will provide individuals the opportunity to advance their professional careers in the field of public health.

# # #

About The Health Trust
The Health Trust is a nonprofit foundation building health equity in Silicon Valley. It ensures that health related grants, policies and services exist to support Silicon Valley’s most vulnerable communities. With regard to grants, The Health Trust prioritizes projects that meet the following criteria:

  • Bolsters health promotion and primary prevention efforts
  • Includes a system, policy, practice, or environmental change that can have an impact beyond the grant period
  • Includes a feasible sustainability plan
  • Follows promising and best practices

For more information, visit

The Health Trust Meals On Wheels Receives $1,500 from Meals on Wheels America

For Immediate Release: June 29, 2017
The Health Trust Contact: Gustavo Caraveo, or (408) 513-8740


Much-Needed Funding Helps Keep Santa Clara County Seniors and Their Pets Together

San Jose, CA, June 29, 2017 – The Health Trust is proud to announce that it has received a $1,500 grant from Meals on Wheels America to support its Meals On Wheels client pet program: Pets And their Loving Seniors (PALS). PALS provides free pet food to seniors and adults who are low-income and homebound and who live with animal companions.

“Pets provide critical therapeutic support to help our clients maintain their health, well-being, and independence, so it is of great importance to us that both our clients and their pets receive adequate nutrition and care. PALS operates entirely on donations, and food is delivered exclusively by volunteers. We couldn’t do it without the generosity of supporters like Meals on Wheels America,” said Charlie Bullock, Interim CEO of The Health Trust.

In total, Meals on Wheels America has granted $300,000 to 193 local Meals on Wheels programs through the Meals on Wheels Loves Pets initiative this year. Funding is made possible in part through a donation from Banfield Charitable Trust (BCT). To date, the grant program has distributed more than $2.4 million in funding and pet food donations.

“While the benefits of companionship are clear, taking care of a pet can be financially and physically challenging for seniors,” said Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander. “Meals on Wheels Loves Pets helps local Meals on Wheels providers alleviate this hardship and at the same time reduce the negative effects of isolation.”

# # #

About The Health Trust
The Health Trust is a nonprofit foundation building health equity in Silicon Valley. It ensures that health related grants, policies and services exist to support Silicon Valley’s most vulnerable communities. Providing nutritious food to those that need it most has always been a priority of The Health Trust. Since its inception in 1996, The Health Trust has operated a Meals On Wheels program that delivers hot nutritious meals and offers wellness checks to seniors, adults with disabilities and individuals that are homebound. For more information, visit  

About Meals on Wheels America
Meals on Wheels America is the oldest and largest national organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. This network exists in virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million staff and volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, education, research and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time. For more information, or to find a Meals on Wheels provider near you, visit

Civil Eats: Bringing Healing Meals to the Chronically Ill in California

California nonprofits are advocating for a medically tailored meal pilot program for low-income residents.

“Food is medicine” has become a common refrain. Now a coalition of California nonprofits hopes to test this theory with a program that would deliver medically tailored meals to the doors of low-income California residents living with heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Earlier this year, The California Food is Medicine Coalition, which is made up of six California nonprofits: Ceres Community Project in Santa Rosa, Mama’s Kitchen in San Diego, Project Open Hand in San Francisco, HealthTrust in San Jose, Food for Thought in Sonoma County, and Project Angel Food in Los Angeles—all groups that for the most part started delivering medically tailored meals during the HIV/AIDS crisis and saw the impact on patients’ quality of life—worked with state Senator Mike McGuire to request funding to pilot the program.

“We’re trying to make the case that high-quality nutritional support in the form of a meal-delivery program to meet the nutritional needs of patients with specific illnesses should be considered a medical intervention without which the patient will not do nearly as well,” said Cathryn Couch, executive director of Ceres Project. “This kind of work is being done in other states and we’re behind.”

If the coalition’s request for $9 million in funding over three years is approved, it would be the first multi-organization, multi-county, multi-disease pilot in the country—and it could have a significant impact on healthcare costs and health outcomes.

Earlier work in Philadelphia, led by the nonprofit MANNA and documented in a 2013 study published in the Journal of Primary Care and Community Health, showed promising results. After delivering three medically tailored meals per day to 65 patients with different chronic illnesses for six months, researchers found that the healthcare costs for those patients dropped from $38,937 per month to $28,183 per month, and were 55 percent lower than the healthcare costs of a comparison group. The frequency of hospital admissions and length of hospital stays also declined.

A healthful and diverse diet, say these groups, can work wonders to bring patients back to health. “With our model, you don’t have to wait years to see results,” said MANNA CEO Sue Daugherty. “With hypertension, we can see the results in one month; with A1C [a blood test for average blood glucose], we can see the results in three months.”

Food Heals

MANNA, like many members of the Food is Medicine Coalition, started delivering meals to those living with HIV/AIDS in the 1990s. The program expanded over time and, in 2014, thanks to a partnership with local insurer Health Partners Plans, MANNA started tailoring meals for 80 different health conditions ranging from cancer and kidney disease to diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

The dietician-designed menus offered by Ceres Project feature dishes such as mushroom quiche, chickpea burgers, lentil soup, fish stew, and pasta with summer vegetables.

Preparations are further tailored to specific illnesses. Meals for diabetes patients would have fewer carbohydrates while meals for patients with heart disease would limit sodium and saturated fats. All meals are based around fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and high quality proteins.

Groups also allow for dietary modifications. MANNA, for example, provides pureed meals for those who struggle to chew or swallow, low spice meals, low lactose, and seafood-free meals for those with allergies.

A 2016 study found that home-delivered, medically tailored meals helped cancer patients decrease fatigue, eat more nutritiously, and live more independently.

And the Harvard Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation has reported that medically tailored meals help lower blood glucose levels, reduce the number of hospitalizations and ER visits, and increase medication adherence among those with diabetes. Harvard’s study also showed that providing three meals per day for six months costs less than a single night of hospitalization.

The opportunity to improve health outcomes helped MANNA secure partnerships with three insurers. The nonprofit operates out of a new commercial kitchen with 36 staff members and 4,500 active volunteers to deliver meals to roster of 1,000 clients who receive 1 million meals annually.

“There is finally recognition that a prescription diet is just as important as prescription medications,” Daugherty says.

Statewide Support

While MANNA secures its funding through a number of channels including contracts with insurers, individual donations, foundations, and corporate giving, the Food is Medicine Coalition hopes to have funding embedded into the state budget and will then allocate resources to patients receiving public health insurance through Medi-Cal, California’s implementation of Medicaid.

According to Couch, the program has the support of the California Department of Public Health, California Department of Healthcare Services, and other key stakeholders.

The Department of Public Health declined to comment on pending legislation, but a spokesperson said in a statement: “For those individuals diagnosed with chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease, proper nutrition can be a key component of treatment.”

Couch believes the intervention is critical for supporting patients but admits there are still logistics to work out.

The goal is to have Medi-Cal refer patients to local organizations such as Mama’s Kitchen and Project Open Hand, which can deliver the meals in their respective counties.

As part of the pilot, the coalition will track healthcare utilization and health outcomes before, during, and after the intervention. Couch estimates that a $9 million investment would shave $19 million in healthcare costs during the first year of the program.

“We’re talking about patients who have to decide whether to pay for their medications or their utilities,” Couch says. “This is a population without any food support and the sooner we can demonstrate the positive outcomes to healthcare utilization and insurance costs, the sooner we can show that it makes sense to include medically tailored meal deliveries as an essential health benefit.”

Thanks to their dogged determination, the coalition received good news: In June, members of the state Senate approved $6 million over three years to pilot the program. While the Assembly did not include funding in its budget, the joint Conference Committee on the Budget voted to include the funding in the final budget. The budget is expected to be ratified today, and will go to the governor’s desk soon after. There is still a chance Brown could veto the expenditure, but Couch is hopeful.

“It’s such a small amount of money compared to the overall healthcare budget in California,” she said. “Even if it doesn’t go through this year, we’ll be back in 2018. We’ve come too far to give up now.”

Read the original report. 

Mercury News: Affordable housing projects to fight homelessness advance in San Jose

San Jose’s housing department is pursuing a number of short and long term housing solutions

By |

SAN JOSE — From tiny homes for the homeless to apartments for artists and kids leaving foster care, San Jose officials have advanced an array of housing projects aimed at keeping people off the streets in a city where average rent has soared above $2,500 a month.

The City Council this week moved forward with three affordable housing projects and a fourth one — slated for East San Jose — is on the way. And in the next couple of weeks, elected leaders will consider allowing churches to house homeless people permanently, and will discuss where to place up to 200 “tiny homes,” micro housing units with a bed and locking door and shared bathrooms and showers.

“The reality is 70 percent of the county’s homeless population is here,” said Ray Bramson, the city’s homeless response manager. “We have a lot of developable land and lots of support from our mayor and council.”

Tackling homelessness has emerged as a top priority in other large Bay Area cities, but local advocates say San Jose is leading the march.

Jennifer Loving, who runs the nonprofit Destination: Home, said San Diego and other major cities rely on San Jose’s model to develop their programs.

“Our community is a leader in the nation when it comes to data assessment prioritization and the Housing First model,” Loving said, adding that San Jose and its partners use data to set goals and measure success in real time.

A new affordable housing project called Quetzal Gardens could bring 71 affordable apartments to 1695 Alum Rock Avenue in East San Jose. The six-story complex includes 12,175 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.

Twenty units will be reserved for chronically homeless people and the rest for low-income residents. A full-time service coordinator will provide on-site mental health treatment and case management, according to city documents.

“In my district, people are living two to three families to a home. We are in desperate need of high-quality, safe, affordable homes that will provide space for families to thrive,” said Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco, who represents east side. “The transformation from a parking lot to a mixed-use community is what residents have been asking for.”

The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approving Quetzal Gardens’ permits Wednesday. It goes to the City Council later this month.

The City Council earlier this week advanced three other new affordable housing projects. The first, planned for two empty lots on Gallup and Mesa drives, will be home to 41 new units for low-income seniors, families with foster care youth and kids transitioning out of foster care.

The second, on 226 Balbach Avenue, will provide affordable apartments for the homeless, seniors, low-income families and artists. It’s unclear how many units would go on the 0.36 acre site owned by the city, but the decision to target struggling artists is being praised by the arts community.

“I often hear artists and cultural workers express dismay that they can no longer afford to remain in San Jose due to the high cost of living,” said Lisa Mallette, executive artistic director of City Lights Theater Company, in a letter supporting the project. “I have an employee who commutes to work from Salinas because they could not find safe and affordable housing in San Jose.”

The third, on Bassett Street, will provide 135 units for veterans and special-needs individuals. That plan, called the North San Pedro Housing Project, includes consolidating three parcels into one and could someday be home to more than 1,200 housing units.

The council unanimously moved all three projects forward Tuesday by approving land transfers, negotiation agreements with developers and pre-development loans.

Assembly Bill 2176, carried by former Assemblywoman Nora Campos, opened the door for tiny homes in San Jose. The legislation, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last summer, allows San Jose to build unconventional housing structures when the city declares a housing crisis.

The bill sunsets in 2022, but city leaders are looking to build as many as 20 tiny homes in each of San Jose’s ten council districts. A list of city-owned sites being eyed for the projects was released in a committee report last month. The final locations will be determined in the fall.

The tiny homes are also called “sleeping cabins” or emergency bridge housing communities.

“It’s been more challenging in some districts than others to find usable space,” Bramson said. “We’re looking at the feasibility of implementing 20 sleeping cabins per site in all ten districts.”

San Jose is working with architectural firm Gensler to come up with the design of the homes. The first round of prototype tiny homes are expected to arrive by September.

Among other initiatives, if approved by the City Council on June 27, churches and other faith-based groups can house homeless people for an unlimited period of time — as long as it’s not more than half the facility’s regular use. Up to 50 people can be housed per night.

The city has converted two crumbling motels into housing for the homeless: The former Santa Clara Inn (now called Casa de Novo) opened last April and offers 56 units for homeless, and the Plaza Hotel, which offers 47 units, will open in August.

San Jose has budgeted $1 million to hire ten new case managers to work with up to 200 chronically homeless people. The city is also drafting a letter to Santa Clara County with suggestions for leveraging funds from Measure A bonds approved by voters last year for projects in the city.

Read the original report. 

June 15, 2017: CEO Search Update

From Azzani Search Consultants:

June 15, 2017 Update

The CEO search is progressing well with a strong diverse candidate pool.   We are moving to second and final round interviews and anticipate having them completed at the end of June or early July.  Stay tuned!

April 12, 2017 Update

The recruitment of the CEO is progressing well. The Search Committee comprised of Board, staff and community representatives will be reviewing and interviewing candidates until the end of May.

The job description is available, and can be downloaded here. We encourage you to send recommendations, nominations or letters of interest to Azzani Search Consultants / Eunice Azzani.

Download job description.

Josephine Guerrero Family Resource Center Hosts Celebration for Milpitas Children and Families

Brittany Satkoski
FIRST 5 Santa Clara County

MILPITAS – Today, local leaders joined young children and their families at the Josephine Guerrero Family Resource Center for an open house celebration featuring food trucks, resource tables, Potter the Otter, and free games and activities.

The resource center, which held its ribbon cutting in December 2016, provides free resources for children under age six and their families, including developmental screenings, parent and caregiver workshops, referrals to affordable children’s health insurance programs, and fun and educational family engagement activities. The Family Resource Center is a partnership between the Milpitas Unified School District, The Health Trust, and FIRST 5 Santa Clara County.

“Young children and families are at the heart of the Josephine Guerrero Family Resource Center,” says Jolene Smith, Chief Executive Officer of FIRST 5 Santa Clara County. “FIRST 5 is dedicated to working with local families and the Milpitas Unified School District to strengthen and support the healthy development of our youngest children and support parents and caregivers in their role as their child’s first and most important teacher.”

The center joins a growing network Family Resource Centers across the county, the second in Milpitas, as part of FIRST 5’s Family Resource Center Initiative. The initiative uses a place-based approach to increase access to services and provide opportunities for parents to become more engaged in their children’s healthy development, school readiness, and other collaborative efforts to improve their lives and the communities in which they live.

“Partnering with FIRST 5 on the Family Resource Center Initiative allows us to ensure that children ages 0-5 acquire the skills needed to be ready to succeed in kindergarten, from literacy to proper nutrition and physical activity. We believe that these skills also serve as the foundation for living a healthy and fruitful life.” Charles C. Bullock, Ph.D., Interim CEO of The Health Trust.

Today the resource center was dedicated in memory of Josephine Guerrero, who was committed to serving her community. Guerrero served as an assistant postmaster, President of the Milpitas Chamber of Commerce, and was the first woman to serve on the Milpitas Planning Commission.

“Milpitas Unified School District is looking forward to dedicating the family resource center in memory of a woman who lived her life to support her family and the Milpitas community in times of peace and in times of war,” Board President Daniel Bobay said. “It is a fitting way to honor this woman who was a diamond with many facets.”

The Josephine Guerrero Family Resource Center is located on the campus of Randall Elementary School at 1300 Edsel Drive, Portable #1, Milpitas, CA 95035. For more information on hours and regularly scheduled classes, please call 408.635.2662 ext. 1638 or visit


Learn more about The Health Trust Family Resource Centers.

Download a PDF of this news release.

The Health Trust Magazine Spring/Summer 2017

The Spring/Summer 2017 issue of The Health Trust Magazine takes an in depth look at our efforts to build health equity in Silicon Valley with respect to homelessness and food security.

Inside you’ll learn about our program Destination: Home and its plan to end homelessness, along with the new strategies our Food For Everyone team is implementing to increase food access for vulnerable populations. You will also find a letter from our Interim CEO, what’s New and Newsworthy at The Health Trust, a donor spotlight on The Applied Materials Foundation, and a list of donors and corporate volunteers that help make our work possible.

Download the magazine.