An Opportunity the Office of Surgeon General Can't Pass Up


I don't know about you, but I've talked to dozens of people applying for the ACEs Aware RFP, due Feb. 10. Watching myself and my colleagues hustle and brainstorm on how to work together to submit ideas for this opportunity has been very inspiring. Although we have no idea how many grant awards will be made, we know that only a fraction of what must be hundreds of RFP submissions will be funded this year. It would be a tragedy to waste the efforts of those who will have spent many hours on the application, and who are creating innovative and maybe crucial ideas, products and practices. I have a few ideas about what the state can do with the applications it doesn’t fund. Maybe the Office of the Surgeon General or the Department of Health Care Services will consider and do at least one of these things. None of them costs much, and although they may be atypical for a state entity, there is nothing prohibiting either the Office of the Surgeon General or the Department of Health Care Services from enacting them. 

ACEs Innovation Database

The state could create a database of the ideas submitted (with the permission of the authors of course) and include it on the beautiful site. The database could include, simply,  a general description, target audience and population, and contact information so people can collaborate on similar concepts, or partner on other funding efforts. Just because folks aren’t funded this time doesn’t mean their idea isn’t gold. 

Can you imagine how much time this database could save people who want to connect across the field and across sectors? How it would break down walls between those who have major connections already (such as hospital systems, universities, etc.) and those who have a great idea but might be alone at the grassroots level? It would go a dramatically long way to promote equity, and transparency at the state. Creating such a database would also help make sure we can connect ideas all over California, breaking down geographic silos and promoting an integrated, and perhaps systematic approach to ACEs work.  What I love most about it is that it helps remove the burden from the state of being the gatekeeper, through the funding process, of ACEs work.

If capacity is an issue, I offer to do it for free.  

Promote Collaboration Between ACEs Innovators

I’m calling all of us out there who are articulating, studying or creating ACEs research, practices and opportunities ACEs Innovators. Although not everyone doing this work, or who wants to do it, is submitting an application to this first round of funding, the database of innovators the state will have once they’ve logged all lead organizations and partners will be a terrific mapping of some of the state’s assets and talent.  Many of us have just begun conversations, and would love to continue them, but would like to also connect with people outside our network. Since preventing, addressing and healing ACEs requires integration and cross sector work, the state could play a very positive and impactful role as a convener of those in the field, and of those who have ACEs. This could take the form of open source style meetings that go beyond Medi-Cal providers and allow people to come together as innovators to work together, and share and critique ideas and practices, rather than against each other in a competitive process. The state could act as a giant facilitator that can nurture and support our work together. 

Work with the Data

The data comprised of the contents of the RFPs submitted could be studied for trends, best practices, gap analysis, asset mapping and other helpful information that would help us better understand where we are now in California with respect to ACEs work, what we might be missing, and whether we need to make some serious investments in specific areas (I’m thinking of gaps in work with certain populations or in certain communities.)  Since the RFPs are focused on reaching Medi-Cal providers, the data submitted in February wouldn’t represent all of the work being done, but it’s information we should do something with. 

I am sure the applications the state selects to fund will be a stunning array of variety, innovation, creativity, best practice, and science that raises awareness of ACEs in California. I for one would like to know more about those ideas, and the people, organizations and communities behind them. And wouldn’t it be trauma-informed for the state to do so? 


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I hope this information and your terrific ideas, makes it to the office of CA-OSG. I wholeheartedly agree, Sarah, connection and integration within our state is a must to impact change and cut ACEs in half (or by 50%) in one generation. There is a lot to be discussed and integrating primary care settings/physicians who screen for ACEs with behavioral/mental health services is something I imagine is on the horizon.

I keep reminding myself, ACEs are not our destiny but we need to breathe in the same sentence the Resilience Science piece and how to mitigate with protective factors such as increasing quality parenting supports. Thank you for your time and post!

-Heather N. Thomsen, PhD

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