Converging in the Central Valley

June 10, 2013

HEFN Director Kathy Sessions interviews representatives from Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, Grantmakers In Health, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders, and the Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities in this blog post.

From December 4-6, 2013, funders and affinity group leaders will convene in the San Joaquin Valley in Central California for a three-day learning tour. Six funder affinity groups and collaboratives with diverse issue areas of interest are co-organizing this tour to encourage collaboration, strengthen interest and investment in the region, and to provide funders with an opportunity to see how issue areas intersect. 

This blog post features a brief question and answer session with leaders from tour co-sponsors, highlighting funders’ interests in and prospective takeaways from the tour.

Q:    What are your funder members’ interests in the region?

Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR):   Our members’ interests in the region are varied—particularly given the size and diversity of the immigrant population and the issues they face. Recently, GCIR members have supported funding collaboratives to assist individuals eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship and relief under a new federal policy benefitting undocumented immigrant youth.

Grantmakers in Health (GIH):    A number of our Funding Partners have made and continue to make investments across California and in the San Joaquin Valley. Their support aims to improve the health of all, including addressing access to health care, the needs of vulnerable populations, and the need for communities to have safe and healthy environments.

Health and Environmental Funders Network (HEFN):    Many HEFN funders are concerned about everyday conditions for Central Valley families, including air & water pollution,  agricultural chemicals, combined impacts of  environmental hazards and poverty, and community voices in decision-making.   An emerging concern is about hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for oil in the Monterey Shale, underneath drinking water sources.

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF):   The Central Valley is ‘ground zero’ for industrial agriculture, and a place where many funders see opportunity for positive changes that could ripple through the food system. The combination of large-scale agriculture, history of progressive state politics, serious environmental issues, and clear environmental justice issues make this learning opportunity appealing.

The Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (TFN): In the fast-growing San Joaquin Valley, SB 375 and other policies present an opportunity to help direct growth to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve health, and promote equity. Our funders believe integrated land use and transportation reform can help address some of the Valley’s most critical issues—poverty, asthma, obesity, poor air quality, urban disinvestment, and loss of farm land.

Q:         What do you hope the tour could do for your members, your issues, and or the region?

GCIR:    Ideally, it will uplift the ways in which immigration-related issues intersect with diverse funding priorities—from workers’ rights to health; food security to affordable housing; and civic engagement to leadership development. In addition to highlighting the needs of local communities, we hope the tour will spark new connections among participants.

GIH:   We hope the tour will help highlight the connections between root causes of health disparities and inequities with other environmental and social issues. Likewise, we hope it will help generate dialogue about how health grantmakers can collaborate and make a difference in communities facing the same or similar challenges as those in San Joaquin Valley.

HEFN:    The tour offers great opportunities to meet community leaders and see conditions firsthand.   And, with 6 cosponsors, to explore connections!  Understanding how problems may be linked – like pesticide exposures, worker rights, and agricultural patterns… or asthma, air pollution, and transportation – can help guide grantmaking for stronger regional action.

SAFSF:    This tour will allow funders to discuss and to see in-person how affinity groups’ interests intersect in the Valley.  Several funders want to learn about the science regarding air and water quality. Others want to hear from growers, residents and policymakers about the changes they want to see, or to learn about different kinds of crops.

TFN:   We hope that the tour will educate funders, inspire investment in the region, strengthen funder relationships, and catalyze collaboration. Because the issues in the Valley are inextricably linked, gaining insight into other issue areas may help funders make more effective investments. Ultimately, we hope the tour helps contribute to the creation of a healthier, more equitable, and more sustainable San Joaquin Valley.

For more information about the tour, please contact Virginia Clark, Executive Director, SAFSF,; Tel: (805) 687-0551; or Nina Bohlen, Western Program Consultant, TFN,; Tel: (510) 444-5542.

Editor’s Note: The Convergence Partnership, a collaborative of funders dedicated to policy and environmental change to advance equity and health people living in healthy places, has joined on as the sixth co-sponsor of the tour, although a representative was not interviewed in time for this post.

From our Blog

Blog posted on December 16, 2013
What can six funder groups learn by exploring without focusing on their narrow issue boundaries? A lot! In this blog post, a recap of the December 2013 San Joaquin Valley funder tour in California.

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