The San Joaquin Valley Funders’ Collaborative is a dynamic and growing set of funders working to drive more resources into the region, support local NGOs through intentional, transparent partnerships and align their work for the greatest impact. Even during the last year of virtual gatherings, the group deepened their relationships to each other and to partners, honestly and authentically asking the difficult questions of how to be a more equity-centered coalition who are true partners to community leadership on the ground. Exciting work continues to unfold with this group of funders deeply committed to this region.
Some highlights of the last year of our work in the San Joaquin Valley include:
- Implementation of the Power, Equity and Clean Water Collective: In 2019, SJV funders leveraged a unique matching opportunity through the Water Funder Initiative to leverage over $4.2 million into the Valley to address water issues through equitable implementation of the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund (SB 200) and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) – read more about the three-year initiative here. After more than a year of the initiative under-the-belt, funders and partners reflected on how the effort has been working on the ground and how funders can best move resources through pooled funds and collaborative spaces into communities as effectively and efficiently as possible. Anchor partners – Community Water Center, Self-Help Enterprises and Leadership Council for Accountability and Justice – will be supporting ten new cohort organizations this year as they continue to work for water justice.
- Increasing Interest and Investment in Agroecology: Before the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation closed their doors in December 2020, they gave a special grant to the San Joaquin Valley with the general purpose of supporting work that would drive more investment into the region, with the SJVFC as the deciding body on how to prioritize the funds. A small group of SJVFC funders met and identified the incredible work of the Central Valley Agroecology Farmer Training Program, a collaborative effort designed to connect people to the land with ancestral, equity-centered and climate-based practices. The SJVFC met with members of the collective and decided to make the grant to their efforts to equip them with more capacity to seek funding for the ambitious initiative. The success of their vision for an agroecology center will open doors for new types of funders to invest in the Valley and the SJVFC sees itself as an ongoing partner in identifying new sources of capital for the project.
- New Co-Chairs to Provide Leadership: Adriana Saldivar of the Latino Community Foundation and Kat Gilje of Ceres Trust became the first co-chairs of the San Joaquin Valley Funders’ Collaborative. We are so lucky to have the leadership of two such intelligent, committed and equity-rooted funders to help steer the SJVFC and support its growth.
- Addressing the Digital Divide: In response to the deepening digital divide exacerbated by COVID, funders moved resources quickly and through various avenues to help partners on the ground continue their work. Three SJVFC funders – the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Latino Community Foundation and the Sierra Health Foundation – worked together to convene a group of 60 partner organizations from the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund to identify key areas of focus in addressing the digital divide. A working group was formed which developed a set of priorities, laid out in the SJVHF’s IHHEEL platform.
Interested in learning more or joining the San Joaquin Valley Funders’ Collaborative? Reach out to Kerry Hastings, who coordinates the group.