Top: Community activism runs in the family - Breakbox Thought Collective Founder/Executive Director, Jamillah Finley with fellow Co-Founder of the Fresno Black Girl Magic Project, Zee Finley. Left: Founder of Social Justice Politicorps, Kula Koenig. Right: Central Valley Latino Leadership Academy’s 2020 cohort goes virtual.
Media Inquiries: Jennie Breister - JBMF Communications
(916) 979-9166 ext 805
Press Release in Spanish
SACRAMENTO, CA, February 9, 2021 - Fourteen-year-old Zee Finley smiles, peering at the cover of Ashe' magazine volume 4, 100 Black Voices. The upcoming digital publication features the writings of Black journalists of all ages with selections hand-picked by Zee, co-founder, and the vibrant team behind the Fresno Black Girl Magic Project, an 8-month internship created by Breakbox Thought Collective that offers Black female and non-binary youth (like Zee) resources for mental health support and community connections through journalism and the arts.
One hundred seventy miles north in Sacramento, Kula Koenig, founder of Social Justice Politicorps blasts out an action alert to their 200 members, urging everyone to show up and speak out at the upcoming virtual County Board of Supervisors’ budget workshop. Members received talking points on the need to invest more into underserved communities, Facebook watch party information, as well as a thoughtful reminder from Kula to #StayWoke but to also practice self-care. Such emphatic calls to action play out constantly and exemplify the group’s mission to ensure those most impacted by social inequities are equipped to shape the solutions necessary for a socially just Sacramento.
These inspiring examples of civic engagement kindled at the grassroots level are why Breakbox Thought Collective and Social Justice Politicorps, along with twelve other extraordinary organizations, are the latest grant recipients of the James B. McClatchy Foundation (JBMF) LIFT Initiative, originally launched in 2019. LIFT grants are aimed at lifting the voices of a diverse group of emerging and established community leaders who are working across the Central Valley to protect First Amendment freedoms, one of JBMF’s two pinnacle program areas, along with educational support for English and Dual Language Learners.
The latest round of funding are capacity building grants designed to invest in the sustainability and effectiveness of organizations, rooting them in their communities so they are more equipped to create real systemic change. This support has been especially critical as COVID-19 continues to disrupt community groups, limiting fundraising and program capacity all across the Valley.
The LIFT grantmaking initiative has funded 25 Central Valley organizations with $1M in total funding. Latest grants range from $25K-$100K and specifically support leadership development, staffing, technology capacity, or strategic planning for each:
Black Youth Leadership Project (Sacramento)
Breakbox Thought Collective - Fresno Black Girl Magic Project (Fresno)
California Center for Civic Participation (Sacramento)
Central Valley Latino Leadership Academy (Fresno)
Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project (Central Valley)
Faith in the Valley (Central Valley)
Ivanhoe Sol (Tulare County)
Little Manila Rising (Stockton)
McClatchy Media Lab - Stanislaus Community Foundation (Modesto)
Nate Nvil Solutions/Stanislaus County Y.E.P. (Stanislaus County)
PRO Youth and Families (Sacramento)
Social Justice Politicorps (Sacramento)
Stanislaus Cradle to Career Partnership - Youth Empowerment Network (Stanislaus County)
YDN - Nueva Epoca Early Career Development Program (Sacramento)
“This is about us believing in and standing by an inclusive generation of leaders,” says JBMF Board Member, Joaquin Alvarado. “It’s the local stories and local leaders on the front lines who create real change. The more that local journalists can report on and cover these important stories, the deeper the impact on real First Amendment freedoms for our underrepresented Central Valley communities.”
In a new year message to its community, JBMF CEO, Priscilla Enriquez announced that the Foundation will create an intentional spend-down strategy with details to be released by summer 2021. "JBMF has accelerated grant-making investments and programs by 100% over the last two years," states Enriquez. “We want our partners to leverage their own ideas with new tools and to use our support to create space for innovation and risk-taking.”
“We are excited to see this work unfold during the life of the Foundation and beyond," adds Program Officer for Civic Engagement, Misty Avila. "If we can help create a sustainable impact that is widespread across the Valley, we’ll have fulfilled the vision of our founder, James. B. McClatchy.”
Grant partners like YDN - Nueva Epoca Early Career Development Program are heeding this call to build an inclusive generation of new leaders who are representative of Central Valley communities. The Sacramento-based program recently launched to identify, equip, network, and strengthen the region’s next generation of LatinX leaders. “There is an upward mobility crisis for Sacramento’s Latinx community that won’t be solved overnight,” says YDN Executive Director, Adrian Ruiz. “We are building a pipeline of emerging leaders who will go on to create social and economic policies that positively impact their community, turning that crisis into an opportunity. With 16 incredible young professionals in our first cohort, this is just the beginning.”
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For more information about the LIFT Initiative, or to interview JBMF leaders or individual grant partners, please contact Jennie Breister, JBMF Communications (916) 979-9166 ext 805
The James B. McClatchy Foundation, formerly known as the Central Valley Foundation, was founded in 1994 by Susan and the late James B. McClatchy who together envisioned an organization that builds brilliant futures in California's Central Valley through support for English Learners and First Amendment protections of free speech, freedom of expression, and a free press. Over 24 years, the Foundation has made annual grants across its footprint in the Central Valley and continues to seek promising new ways to advance the region’s most valuable resource – the abundant cultural wealth of its people. The James B. McClatchy Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit philanthropic organization and is not affiliated with the McClatchy Company or McClatchy publications.