News Releases

Fresno Regional Foundation Grants $600,000 to Pressing Issue Facing the Valley


January 17, 2013

Media Contacts:  

Dan DeSantis, Chief Executive Officer, 559-226-5600 x101; [email protected]

Natalie Garcia, Program Officer, 559-226-5600 x104, 559-301-8224 (cell); [email protected]


Fresno Regional Foundation Grants $600,000

to Pressing Issue Facing the Valley


Fresno, CA – Too many children in the San Joaquin Valley are growing up in poverty. In Fresno County alone, the poverty rate among school-aged children jumped from 27 percent in 2007 to 36 percent in 2010 – the highest in the state.

Also, 60 percent of Valley children are not reading on grade level by the third grade, making them much more likely to drop out of high school and face greater challenges later in life.

To address this issue, the Fresno Regional Foundation (FRF) awarded today $600,000 to five community organizations to support children living in poverty to succeed in school.

“For the Valley to see greater prosperity, we must increase the level of educational attainment of our children, especially those living in poverty,” said FRF Chief Executive Officer Dan DeSantis. “After much deliberation, the Foundation decided helping families and children through the early years of education to be a very strategic investment for our future.”

The following organizations received grants:

  • Community Services Employment Training, Inc.: $150,000 to expand its Families Improving Education program, which will increase the number of children reclassified from English Language Learners to English Language Proficient. This is a critical step in the school system to ensure that children are offered the courses they need to be ready for college.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County: $150,000 to work collaboratively with the Parent Institute for Quality Education and Reading and Beyond to expand their focus to children 0-4, their parents, and student success by the end of third grade.
  • Reading and Beyond: $150,000 for Fresno Promise Neighborhoods. Inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City, Fresno Promise Neighborhoods is focusing on the Lowell neighborhood in central Fresno, where it will create a seamless support system for all children from birth to college and career. The grant from FRF will focus on children 0-8 and their families.
  • Californians for Pesticide Reform: $75,000 to connect environmental health and justice groups with educational groups and agencies to make the connection between student success, environmental health hazards, and educate teachers and parents about health risks.
  • Woodlake Family Resource Center: $75,000 to develop a shared community agenda for student success by the end of the third grade. Currently, partners include local health clinics and Woodlake Unified School District.

    This first round of grants is part of a larger initiative called The Fund for the San Joaquin Valley. The Fund aims to build a $20 million endowment to solve the most pressing local issues. Local community members are invited to donate to the endowment, and then the Foundation will grant $1 million every year to a critical issue, guided by an expert advisory committee of community leaders, forever.

    The Fund for the San Joaquin Valley initiative is supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.

    About Fresno Regional Foundation

    Founded in 1966, FRF improves the quality of life in the San Joaquin Valley through philanthropy. It serves Fresno, Madera, Merced, Mariposa, Tulare and Kings counties. 

    FRF is the trusted link between donors and organizations investing in permanent, high-impact solutions for the San Joaquin Valley. The Foundation currently holds assets of more than $55 million and awarded $5.5 million in grants in 2012.

    For more information about the Fresno Regional Foundation, please visit or call 559-226-5600.

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