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Eight new Fresno partners aim to expand opportunity, strengthen day-to-day experiences of residents

American Cities

Kresge Community Support: Fresno initiative draws inspiration from other place-based grantmaking endeavors

The Kresge Foundation today announced eight new grants to community-based organizations working to strengthen neighborhoods in Fresno, California.

Kresge Community Support: Fresno, the newest grantmaking initiative led by the foundation’s American Cities Program, aims to support the growth of the city’s community development infrastructure, and in turn, improve the quality of life for residents in Fresno neighborhoods.

Organizations, including El Dorado Park CDC, will undertake a variety of physical transformations including blight reduction and public space improvements. Others will expand existing programming including youth engagement and workforce development programs. Southeast Fresno EDC will deepen efforts to connect residents with job opportunities and will expand technical assistance for small businesses in the neighborhood.

“Expanding opportunities within cities calls for both system-wide reforms as well as neighborhood-level transformation,” said Chantel Rush, managing director of Kresge’s American Cities Program. “We’re humbled to support resident-driven efforts aimed at strengthening Fresno’s neighborhoods.”

Kresge Community Support: Fresno is inspired by other Kresge place-based grantmaking initiatives including Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit and Kresge Innovative Projects: Memphis. Both provide planning and implementation grants to community-based organizations to support resident-driven projects that reflect the aspirations of neighborhood residents.

Grants of up to $35,000 have been awarded to eight Fresno organizations, totaling $162,500.

The American Cities Program’s support for community development efforts in Fresno includes a 2019 grant to the Central Valley Community Foundation as part of the Kresge-led Shared Prosperity Partnership (SP2).  Fresno is one of eight cities participating in the SP2 initiative, which convenes local leaders in select communities across the U.S. to discuss challenges to inclusive growth and provide data, research, and access to national experts, networks, and financial resources.

Along with fellow SP2 lead partners, Urban Institute and the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings Institution, the Central Valley Community Foundation developed Driving the Region’s Inclusive and Vibrant Economy (DRIVE), a 10-year investment plan to develop an inclusive, vibrant, and sustainable economy for residents in the greater Fresno region. The DRIVE plan calls for civic infrastructure development that advances place-based, resident-centered strategies in under-resourced neighborhoods in Fresno.

“A strong, well-supported network of community-based organizations laser-focused on specific neighborhoods, is a critical to shaping a more inclusive and sustainable economy,” said Sidra Fatima, associate program officer with Kresge’s American Cities Program. “Together, these organizations have shaped a network that goes beyond transactional wins to authentic collaboration that strives to meet the needs of Fresno’s neighborhoods, as well as the aspirations of its residents.”

Each Kresge Community Support: Fresno grantee is also a member of the Community Economic Development Partnership (CEDP), a coalition of Fresno organizations committed to improving the city’s neighborhoods. A Kresge grant to CEDP will support this integral network and enable CEDP to expand professional service supports to member organizations, including a part-time bookkeeper, to develop a shared back-office for member organizations.

Kresge Community Support: Fresno is shaped by invaluable support from the foundation’s Program Operations and Information Management team.

Kresge Community Support: Fresno Grantees and Projects

Chinatown Fresno Foundation will receive operating support to strengthen community development and engagement among residents and business in Fresno’s Chinatown neighborhood.

El Dorado Park CDC will receive project support to transform a vacant lot into a community garden and communal gathering space for residents in Fresno’s El Dorado neighborhood.

FACE Robinson CDC will receive operating support to strengthen organizational capacity and continue ongoing initiatives that connect residents to workforce development opportunities.

Highway City CDC will receive operating support to strengthen organizational capacity and continue providing youth development and leadership training, and health and wellness services to residents in Northwest Fresno.

Jane Addams CDC will receive planning support to facilitate a resident-driven process to identify neighborhood improvement projects in Fresno’s Jane Addams neighborhood.

Lowell CDC will receive operating support to deepen ongoing efforts, in partnership with Jackson CDC, including support for neighbors experiencing housing insecurity, youth engagement efforts focused on increased educational attainment, and providing employment opportunities to residents of Fresno’s Lowell neighborhood.

Saints Rest CEDC will receive project support to expand access to green space and create physical activity opportunities for youth in Southwest Fresno.

South East Fresno EDC will receive project support to connect South East Fresno residents to job training and employment services, and to provide technical assistance to small business along the Ventura & Kings Canyon Corridor.

Read more about Kresge Community Support: Fresno in Strengthing community development networks is key to resiliencea commentary piece authored by Kresge Associate Program Officer Sidra Fatima. 

Featured Image: Roosevelt High School students prepare to visit California’s national parks during a program organized by Jackson CDC. Photo courtesy of Jackson CDC.