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Our Mission

A community initiative that promotes health and equity through a network of community trust, advocacy, and collaboration to improve the quality of life for Black residents in Santa Cruz County.

Project Background

Since 2020, The Santa Cruz County Black Health Matters initiative, alongside community partnerships with the United Way of Santa Cruz County, the Santa Cruz Chapter of the NAACP, the Santa Cruz County Coalition for Justice and Racial Equity, Blended Bridge, County Park Friends, Speak for Change Podcast, the MAH, and the Pajaro Valley Health Trust have worked to increase visibility of the social determinants of health impacting the Black/African American community in Santa Cruz County.

Centered in community, the arts, and health, the initiative builds upon shared culture through intentional and dedicated opportunities. The SCCBHMI provides ongoing resources and funding so that the small, (1-2%) Black population can experience a healthy quality of life through access to the outdoors; bikes, hikes, surf, sand, and sunshine. SCCBHMI curated cultural events, youth empowerment programs, and partnerships throughout the county are established to ensure Black residents feel connected, engaged, and that their lived community experience is not just surviving, but thriving!

Black Health Matters Advisors

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Founder/Director

Cat Willis

My life is my work and I am proud to serve my community to improve the lives of all residents of Santa Cruz County. Black Health Matters Initiative (SCCBHMI) was born out of the response to the murder of Mr. George Floyd and the Santa Cruz Black community convening with one another to take action. Through partnerships across the county with multigenerational and multi-focused Black leadership, SCCBHMI embarked upon and mobilized a community initiative that promotes equity through a network of community trust, advocacy, and collaboration to improve the quality of life for Black residents in Santa Cruz County.

Dismantling systemic racism and the frameworks they hold requires a multidimensional approach through trust, partnership, transparency, and equalizing all voices at the table to develop new frameworks. SCCBHMI believes in the power of cultural placemaking and the arts at the center to achieve this.”

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