The San Joaquin Valley is the fastest growing region in the state, and faces a wide range of challenges across its large expanse, from a drinking and groundwater crisis, destruction of working lands by sprawling developments, severe air pollution and extreme poverty alongside the ever-growing challenges faced by a high percentage of undocumented workers. Yet many opportunities are at hand that could set the Valley on a better path for the people who live and work there, including new state funding and policies as well as efforts to build community power and voice.
In 2019, our SJV funder workgroup began exploring a pooled fund to partner philanthropies with power-building efforts across the San Joaquin Valley to integrate a time-sensitive and targeted issue campaign with long-term, multi-issue power building goals for progressive governance in the San Joaquin Valley. Engaging both grasstops and grassroots organizations, the coalition of funders and partners will develop a plan to ensure equitable implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and use the learnings and tools developed from the effort to tie back to other smart growth policy goals in the San Joaquin Valley.
These as well as other challenges and opportunities are why grantmakers in our network are working together to share knowledge, act strategically, and better support the nonprofit partners that are working on-the-ground on a range of interconnected issues in the San Joaquin Valley.
Smart Growth California has been working with funders in the San Joaquin Valley since 2012 by organizing convenings, briefings, and learning tours, as well as by providing technical assistance. The formal working group was launched in May 2016 at a Smart Growth California convening attended by 31 funders in Fresno.
The San Joaquin Valley funder working group brings together funders from across the state that are investing in the San Joaquin Valley. The steering committee includes representatives from: the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, The California Endowment, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Enterprise Community Partners, The California Wellness Foundation, the Central Valley Community Foundation, Ceres Trust, the Energy Foundation, the Latino Community Foundation, the Sierra Health Foundation, the Water Foundation, the 11th Hour Project, and an anonymous funder.
If you are a funder working to create healthy, equitable communities and/or sustainable natural systems in the San Joaquin Valley and are interested in participating in this funder working group, please contact Kerry Hastings, Program Manager at Smart Growth California.