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Fresno’s Promise

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of Irvine’s Board of Directors in Fresno. It was an opportunity for our board to hear directly from local nonprofit, community, and city leaders about the challenges and the potential of Fresno and the region.

The conversation was especially meaningful as Irvine pilots its new strategy in Fresno, which is aimed at creating shared prosperity, particularly for those who have been left behind historically because of poverty and race. The pilot expands on our longstanding commitment to Fresno where, over the last three years, we’ve made more than $17 million in grants.

To prepare for this meeting, we worked with partners from Everyday Impact Consulting, Valley Public Radio, and Youth Leadership Institute to develop an overview on Fresno that reflects the perspectives of the people who live and work there. It looks at the city’s history, geography, people, economy, and community.

This primer sheds light on the long history of serious disparities in Fresno but also reflects how the city is turning a corner with many bright spots to offer the region and the state.

The rich discussion during our visit reaffirmed the importance of listening to the community. Local residents and leaders understand best their needs and how to develop promising solutions based on its strengths. It also underscored the need to stay the course. Transformation takes time.

We strive to share what we learn at Irvine, so we hope this snapshot is a useful tool for local nonprofits as well as funders who are interested in learning more about Fresno.

This conversation was a powerful reminder of how we can partner with leaders in Fresno as it continues on a journey of change. We are grateful for this role and all the efforts underway in this critical city for California and the nation.