Santa Cruz County Black Health Matters Spotlight 2021

New Report Provides Valuable Insights about the Local Black/African American Population

“Santa Cruz County Black Health Matters Spotlight” will help the community improve equity for marginalized people.


Santa Cruz, Calif. – United Way and Applied Survey Research (ASR), together with the NAACP, Santa Cruz County Black Health Matters, Blended Bridges and the Santa Cruz County Black Coalition for Justice and Racial Equity Advisors, have just released a data spotlight addressing the health of Black/African American people in Santa Cruz County. “Santa Cruz County Black Health Matters Spotlight” includes local data that builds on the Community Assessment Project and shares data on the social determinants of health impacting this historically underserved population. These include health and wellbeing; parenting and education; as well as belonging and safety. The data for local Black/African American residents are compared with that of the county’s Hispanic/Latino and White residents.  

The spotlight insights will help local agencies, organizations, and the community understand how to address the inequities facing marginalized people, improve their well-being, and thus make living conditions more equitable for everyone.

“How others see us is important, but how we see ourselves is monumental to our spirit, health and well-being,” said Brenda Griffin, president of the NAACP Santa Cruz County Branch. “I hope this will instill a sense of pride and belonging to a community that is rich in possibilities.”

The spotlight is a vision come true for Santa Cruz County. “Understanding the full spectrum of the Black experience in Santa Cruz County through the Black Health Matters Spotlight 2021 is key to manifesting lasting and impactful change for our whole community,” said Cat Willis, Founder of the Santa Cruz County Black Health Matters Initiative. “When Black residents are held in equal measure of a high standard and quality of life…this is what it means to see the standard of equity in action for our whole community”.

Primary data was collected via an online community survey and online focus groups. Survey and focus group questions were related to the social determinants of health, with additional questions focused on the impact of race/ethnicity on well-being, feelings of safety, and the experience of being Black/African American in Santa Cruz County. Next steps will focus on diving deeper and making meaning of the data, pursuing the data development agenda together, and then using the data to drive change. By working together, the community can best determine how to change inequities revealed by the data.  


Valuable information is revealed.

The report states that, although the Black/African American population in California is 7%, here in Santa Cruz County it is only 1.7%. However, the local percentage has nearly doubled since 2013.

Regarding economic stability, the report found that the median Black family income is $78,381. For Hispanic/Latino, it’s $77,307; and for White it’s $123,248 (latest figures from 2019).

It’s estimated that 54% of the Black/African American population completed high school or greater, compared with 72% of the White population.

Data from Santa Cruz High School’s 11th grade (2018-19) showed that 38% of Black/African American students said they experienced chronic sadness or hopelessness. For Hispanic/Latino and White students, the percentage was 32% for each group.

Copies of the “Santa Cruz County Black Health Matters Spotlight”, which has more detailed information, are available for free download at  



About United Way of Santa Cruz County – United Way of Santa Cruz County ignites the community to give, advocate and volunteer so our youth succeed in school and life, our residents are healthy, and our families are financially independent. The mission of the United Way is to improve the lives of the people of Santa Cruz County by convening the community to identify and seek solutions to their needs and by efficiently raising funds for the human care programs we support. We are an organization of community-based volunteers, and we carry out our mission guided by the principles of excellence, empowerment, leadership, equal opportunity, and partnership.

About ASR:  Applied Survey Research (ASR) is a social research organization helping people build better communities since 1980. Serving the western United States, ASR helps communities measure and improve quality of life while helping organizations measure and improve the impact of their services. Headquartered in Watsonville, Calif., it has branch offices in Santa Clara and Sacramento. Visit

About the NAACP - Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2M activists. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons

About Santa Cruz County Black Health Matters – Black Health Matters Initiative focuses needed attention and community partnership to address the social determinants of health in our local Black community. We lead this effort through the arts and culture, which speak to the tradition of gathering, of sharing, and our human need to have fresh air, community, and joy at the heart of a healthy life. In addition to being high-risk for COVID-19 infection, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports serious and negative effects “across different areas of [Black] people’s lives, including...with household finances, jobs, health care, housing, transportation, caregiving, and well-being.” /

About Santa Cruz County Black Coalition for Justice and Racial Equity Advisors – The Santa Cruz County Black Coalition for Justice and Racial Equity Advisors is comprised of local members of the Black Community working together to advocate for equity policies that promote justice in the areas of education, health, economics, public safety and well-being.

About the Social Determinants of Health – The World Health Organization defines the Social Determinants of Health as the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. These forces and systems include economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies and political systems.

The SDH have an important influence on health inequities—the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries. In countries at all levels of income, health and illness follow a social gradient: the lower the socioeconomic position, the worse the health. For more information, visit