James B. McClatchy Foundation announces ambitious plan to transform Central Valley

October 27, 2023 /

On Wednesday, the James B. McClatchy Foundation (JBMF) announced that they’ve set a goal to invest all their resources into the Central Valley of California by 2030 with their Sunrise Plan, which will create a lasting impact by seeing ideas and cultivating an environment to support all Central Valley communities. 

The JBMF strategic plan states that: “We will seed sustainable and independent local non-profit journalism, grow partnerships to build an infrastructure that fills the gaps experienced by multilingual children and families, and cultivate local leaders that reflect diverse Central Valley communities.”

This plan to create and implement local journalism stems from the JBMF hosting more than 100 listening sessions from Sacramento to Bakersfield to understand the views, concerts, and ideas in local communities. Through these, the Foundation realized that the people in these communities have a strong desire to mobilize and engage in local issues, but their ability to act is directly connected and limited to the resources and capacity available. 

“We envision a world where diverse experiences are embraced. Racial disparity accounts for wide gaps in education, health outcomes, and economic opportunity,” Jamillah Finley, JBMF Grantee and Founder and Executive Director of Breakbox TC stated. “We critically understand the impact of media and education on our society’s perceptions. We seek to create initiatives that birth new narratives.”

After recognizing in 2016 that the needs of the Central Valley population were increasing and in need of long-term investments, the board of the James B. McClatchy Foundation developed a spend-down strategy to build a strong, self-sustaining infrastructure to generate and support new and current initiatives. 

According to their webpage, it is estimated that less than six percent of the statewide philanthropic resources flow into the Central Valley, creating a unique opportunity to come together to build a future in this underinvested region.

“What we want to build, we won’t see it now, but we will see it in 10 years. I want to be able to celebrate when that 10 year comes, knowing that HIP is contributing to changing the Central Valley and empowering a new generation of leaders to lead,” stated JBMF Grantee and Executive Director of Hmong Innovating Politics, Nancy Xiong. 

The JBMF believes that understanding the origins of the Central Valley is just as important as understanding the current mission and goals of the Sunrise Plan, pointing out that the Central Valley’s unique history has deeply impacted the present-day realities and disparities that these communities face, which has lead to the need for significant support.

The Central Valley’s evolution throughout time explains its current makeup: 

  • The Valley is nested within a state known for its indigenous, Spanish, and Mexican roots.
  • Opportunities in gold, agriculture, water, and transportation attracted worldwide attention, leading to the Valley’s diversity. 
  • Economic depression, the desire for a new beginning, and global conflicts drove immigration and migration to the Valley. 
  • Federal, state, and local policies created labor and income disparities, leading to expanded community and wealth divides. 
  • Multilingual learners compose a majority of the Valley’s public school student population.
  • Access to local news is waning, diminishing societal representation of marginalized voices and ushering in the decline of fact-based news.

“I see the sunrise as a fulfillment of the dreams James and I had for the Foundation. The needs of the Central Valley are so great and the solutions to address them should come from the people who live there. JBMF’s Sunrise Plan is but the grease to facilitate what already exists in diverse communities,” said Susan McClatchy, the JBMF Board Vide Chair and founding board member. “Although we are sunsetting, we are calling on others to join us on an ambitious journey for lasting change.”

The timeline for this Sunrise Plan consists of the three following phases:

  • 2023-2035: Capacity-building years. During this phase, the Sunrise Plan’s foundation will be prepared.
  • 2026-2028: Establishing Anchor Partners. During this phase, there will be an emergence of a Central Valley Multiracial Democracy Ecosystem.
  • 2029-2030: Sustainability Years. During this phase, a foundation will be closed and work will begin on sustaining a Multiracial Democracy in the Central Valley.

Three broad strategies will guide this work:

  • Seed (Capacity Building): Investing in the vision of Central Valley communities to guide initiatives and infrastructure that have the potential for long-term sustainability.
  • Cultivate (Anchor Partnerships): Building organizational capacity and strengthening inclusive collaborations and leadership to drive systems transformations.
  • Grow (Sustainability): Scale up approaches and organizations that have the readiness for greater impact, and the capacity to leverage resources and become self-sustaining

“The James B. McClatchy Foundation is imagining the sunrise beyond our sunset — an awakening of a new day and a new plan for a thriving Central Valley for generations to come,” the organization’s webpage on the Sunrise Plan states. 

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Victoria Rodgers

Victoria Rodgers is an editor and reporter for Kern Sol News. Born in Bakersfield, CA, she received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Rockford University in Illinois. She can be reached at victoria@southkernsol.org.