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Regions Rise Together: Salinas

This initiative began in February 2020 with the support of CA Forward and the James Irvine Foundation. Over the past months, we’ve been digging into what inclusive economic development really means for our region, and co-creating a new reality with those communities who are most affected. This work is forcing people to think differently about our structures and systems that enable and perpetuate racial inequity. And it also forces people to think about their own role through that lens. (Click here to read an open letter on race equity from MBEP Board Chair, Dr. Eduardo Ochoa.)

It was a big task, but the process thus far has been incredibly rewarding. We slowed the process down to ensure authentic community engagement which created trust and enabled progress. And it’s leading to critical race equity conversations that address existing constraints that will, in turn, inform our investment priorities.

Now, of course, MBEP and many, many others are already doing some fantastic work! This initiative helped amplify and connect the dots — to enable us to better synchronize and leverage all of our efforts.

Regions Rise Together Salinas is an inclusive economic development initiative that seeks to:

  • Achieve inclusivity and prosperity for ALL residents in the Salinas Valley,
  • Synchronize and leverage existing efforts,
  • Enable & empower communities through the co-creation of investment plans, and ultimately …
  • Demonstrate that our region is investment ready & investment-worthy

Regions Rise Together: Salinas
Investment Plan Blueprint

It’s an oft-repeated adage — a rising tide lifts all boats — but for too many Salinas Valley residents, the reality is that they swim against a perpetual undertow.

For undocumented farmworkers harvesting field crops in Chualar, young mothers struggling to find or afford childcare, low-wage hospitality workers whose paychecks are largely swallowed by high housing costs, and countless people of color who face limited access to education or skills training, getting ahead gives way to scarcely surviving. And the reality is that, right now in Monterey County, race is still the No. 1 indicator of outcomes, dictating the economic prosperity of communities.

Creating inclusive economic development with an underlying core priority of advancing racial equity is the focus of Regions Rise Together Salinas, a collaborative initiative that aims to empower traditionally marginalized and vulnerable populations to move beyond the cycles of poverty and enable them to thrive well into the future. The initiative has the support of CA Forward and the James Irvine Foundation.

Earlier this month, MBEP and a broad coalition of community partners completed their Regions Rise Together (RRT) Investment Plan Blueprint. Two years in the making, it’s a bold, detailed, and far-reaching plan that focuses on several broad areas: Neighborhood Development & Infrastructure Expansion, Human Capital Development, and Economic Opportunity Expansion.

Within each of these segments, the investment blueprint focuses on a subset of priority issues that seek further investment over the next decade: meeting basic needs of stable, affordable housing and broadband internet connectivity for every household, ensuring that all families have access to affordable child care, investments in educational pathways and programs that lead to higher graduation rates and expanded job opportunities in areas such as aeronautics, AgTech, childcare, nursing and other high-road jobs, and in community-based organizations that build community engagement, agency and leadership.

The Regions Rise Together Investment Plan Blueprint has been submitted to the James Irvine Foundation and is now in the process of seeking funding from various sources, including federal and state grants and other funders.

This is the right time to intentionally and strategically fund these investments. We need to invest with both the short and long term in mind – simultaneously investing in housing, infrastructure, childcare, workforce, capacity building, new capital structures, and engagement strategies to ensure we build a solid foundation for a robust and accessible economy for all. We hope you’ll join us on this journey to achieve inclusivity and prosperity for ALL residents of the Salinas Valley. For more information about how you can support this important work, please contact Freny Cooper.

Use the arrows below to scroll through key slides outlining primary issues, processes, and measurement framework.

For a complete project update click here.

Project Partners

Agriculture image courtesy of Mike Morales @MikeMora_Images