Placing Bets in a Complex Environment: One Foundation’s Approach to the Opioid Epidemic

Jill Yegian


In 2014, some California counties had opioid overdose death rates among the worst in the country. The next year, CHCF began a major initiative to reduce opioid overdose and death among Californians.

From 2015 to 2019 CHCF invested $7 million to launch pilot programs and test multiple strategies to reduce the supply of prescription opioids, promote evidence-based addiction treatment, and expand access to the drug naloxone, which reverses opioid overdoses. This impressive body of work yielded strong returns when hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds became available to the state of California to address the epidemic.

To document the impact of this work, CHCF commissioned an article about the portfolio.

The Foundation Review, a peer-reviewed journal of philanthropy, recently published the article, titled “Placing Bets in a Complex Environment: One Foundation’s Approach to the Opioid Epidemic.”

It is freely available for download.

The CHCF Blog also published a related post, How CHCF Helped California Respond to the Opioid Epidemic, which includes interviews with Kelly Pfeifer, MD, who led CHCF’s opioid work, and Jill Yegian, PhD, who wrote The Foundation Review article.