Regional Sustainability

Please note: The information below is for the 2015 grantmaking year. Please see the sidebar for an update in 2016.

Regional Sustainability Activities Update

Central Valley Community Foundation serves a region rich in natural resources and human capital. The region is a place where agricultural production, air and water quality, and land use shape the health of our people and communities.

In 2012, Central Valley Community Foundation sought to gain a better understanding of the Environment issues in the Central Valley in order to determine how best to invest the limited Environment funds. In 2013, experts on selected Environment topics influencing the health of our region presented to our Environment Committee, Board, and Staff. The compelling presentations on Smart Growth resonated with the Board and Staff, resulting in the Central Valley Community Foundation's adoption of Smart Growth as the main funding priority for the Environment Grant Cycle in 2013. For the 2015 grantmaking year, the Central Valley Community Foundation continues its commitment to support Smart Growth Strategies that advance public health, social equity, environmental sustainability, and economic growth through grantmaking, including programs that demonstrate outcomes and reflect clear and distinct benchmarks.

Central Valley Community Foundation will fund programs that Advance Smart Growth Strategies in the Central San Joaquin Valley and programs for the restoration of the San Joaquin River. Approximately $250,000 is available for grant programs within Fresno, Tulare, Madera, Merced, Kings and Mariposa counties.

2015 Smart Growth

Smart Growth Goals to Fund

Central Valley Community Foundation will support organizations that deeply understand Smart Growth strategies that advance public health, social equity, support environmental sustainability, and economic growth. Additionally, Central Valley Community Foundation will support organizations that engage communities and understand the Valley's cultural nuances, and the intersection of Smart Growth with health.

We are interested in identifying bright spots and best practices of projects and / or programs that advance the sustainability of this region as it related to Smart Growth. In future funding rounds, we will likely deepen our partnership with specific communities and organizations based on demonstrated successes from previous Smart Growth grants.

Therefore, CVCF will fund programs that (Proposals are required to meet one or more of the following):

  1. Improve public health, neighborhood safety, and/or access to green space.
  2. Support for policies and infrastructure restructuring that leads to reduced air pollution, (Example: reducing vehicle miles traveled).
  3. Support more compact, economically sustainable communities.
  4. Support greater in-fill development and investment in existing neighborhoods and communities.
  5. Support the preservation of prime agricultural land under threat of development.
  6. Support water quality and conservation efforts.
  7. The Committee will consider proposals that advance Smart Growth goals through linking, aligning, and leveraging dollars or resources for the region. 
  8. Support for civic engagement of residents, businesses, and elected officials in both rural and urban settings around Smart Growth.

Eligibility Criteria 

(Applicants are required to meet all of the following criteria)
  1. The Program demonstrates coordination and collaboration with partners such as local government offices/officials, community leaders, and/or other Community Benefit Organization (CBOs) in implementing the project.
  2. The organization demonstrates strong rationale for proposed program and/or approach in the proposal
  3. The program has a clear, conceptual understanding of the indicators needed to demonstrate impact.

Selection Criteria

(The following items will cause the applicant's proposal to receive a higher ranking)
  1. Provide technical support for Community Benefit Organizations, governmental agencies, and planning departments to work collaboratively across institutional boundaries in planning and implementing Smart Growth strategies.
  2. Convene diverse stakeholders to promote communication, shared learning, and collaboration between public, private, and governmental sectors.
  3. Support for communications and marketing efforts to promote Smart Growth, particularly those that that advance public health, social equity, environmental sustainability, and economic growth.
  4. The proposal will trigger matching dollars or additional resources to the region
  5. The proposal demonstrates the organization's expertise in Smart Growth
  6. Support for staff and community members to become a members to actively engage and join in advisory and decision-making committees and commissions

2015 San Joaquin River Restoration

The Ted Martin Family Endowment Fund was established to support the restoration of the San Joaquin River, increase river water flow, and restore native fish (particularly salmon) populations to the San Joaquin River.

San Joaquin River Restoration Goals to Fund

(Proposals are required to meet at least one of the following)

Central Valley Community Foundation will fund:

  1. Acquisition of land for river restoration
  2. Restoration of native fish (particularly salmon) populations and increased water flows
  3. Riparian restoration to improve habitat for native fish and to stabilize banks against erosion and incision (gouging)

Selection Criteria 

(The following items will cause the applicant's proposal to receive a higher ranking)
  1.  Collaboration with other organizations that are doing related work.
  2. Programs that trigger matching dollars or additional resources to the region.

Grant Amounts, Duration, and Geography

The Central Valley Community Foundation will fund programs that Advance Smart Growth Strategies in the Central San Joaquin Valley and programs for the restoration of the San Joaquin River. Approximately $250,000 is available for grant programs within Fresno, Tulare, Madera, Merced, Kings and Mariposa counties.

$200,000 is earmarked for Smart Growth and $50,000 is for the restoration of the San Joaquin River. Smart Growth grants will range from $5,000 to $50,000 and San Joaquin River Restoration Grants will range from $10,000 to $50,000. The duration for Smart Growth grants may be one or two years in duration. The San Joaquin River Restoration grants are for one year, although implementation of a program or project may be extended from 12 to 24 months upon consideration by the grants committee.

Grants Information Session Resources
What is "smart growth?"

Smart growth is a better way to build and maintain our towns and cities. Smart growth means building urban, suburban and rural communities with housing and transportation choices near jobs, shops and schools. This approach supports local economies and protects the environment.

Smart growth is development that is environmentally sensitive, economically viable, community-oriented, and sustainable. It is an approach to land use planning that promotes compact, transit-oriented urban communities that are attractive and liveable. Smart growth focuses on the planning and layout of communities and the efficient use of land to maximize community goals and avoid wasteful sprawl. It involves policies that integrate transportation and land use decisions by encouraging more compact, mixed-use development (infill) within existing urban areas and discouraging dispersed, automobile-dependent development at the urban fringe. Smart growth and sustainable development are often used interchangeably. Sustainable development is a strategy by which communities seek to balance environmental protection, economic development, and social objectives and to meet the needs of today without compromising the quality of life for future generations.

Smart growth principles include the following

  • Mixing land uses 
  • Employing compact building design 
  • Creating a range of housing opportunities and choices 
  • Creating walkable, bicycle-friendly neighborhoods 
  • Designing distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place 
  • Preserving open space, farmland, and critical environmental areas 
  • Directing development towards existing communities 
  • Providing a variety of transportation choices 
  • Making development decisions fair, predictable, and cost-effective 
  • Encouraging community and stakeholder collaboration.

Smart Growth Resources

  • Smart Growth Online - Website of Smart Growth Network with extensive information including news and useful resources. 
  • Smart Growth America - Nationwide coalition promoting a better way to grow; one that protects farmland and open space, revitalizes neighborhoods, keeps housing affordable, preserves scenic and historic resources, and makes communities more livable 
  • Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit, Smart Growth Leadership Institute - Set of practical tools to help communities grow smarter
  • Smart Growth, U.S. EPA - EPA's portal to extensive resources on smart growth and related issues
  • Local Government Climate and Energy Strategy Series, EPA - Provides a straightforward overview of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction strategies that local governments can use to achieve economic, environmental, social, and human health benefits
  • Smart Growth Implementation Assistance (EPA) Smart Growth Implementation Assistance
  • Center for Livable Communities, Local Government Commission (CA) - National initiative of Local Government Commission in California. Developed the 
  • Natural Resources Defense Council, Smart Growth - Includes visions for how 70 U.S. communities could apply smart growth principles
  • Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities - Resource to assist funders and organizations interested in advancing more livable communities through smart growth policies
  • Futurewise - Statewide public interest group working to promote healthy communities and cities while protecting farmland, forests, and shorelines
  • Local Government Environmental Assistance Network Smart Growth - Links to many smart growth resources
  • ULI and Smart Growth, Urban Land Institute - Resource for information, advice, and concrete ideas on implementing smart growth; emphasis on the development community
  • ICMA Smart Growth - Links to blog, documents, and publications about Smart Growth

2015 Grantees

  • Fresno County Bicycle Coalition ($10,000.) - FCBC proposes to initiate CenCalVia, the first Open Street initiative to serve the Central Valley.  CenCalVia will promote temporary closure of streets, eliminating vehicular traffic and allowing the area to become a “Paved Park” where residents can come together to enjoy physical activities like walking, jogging, skateboarding, and bicycling.
  • San Joaquin River Stewardship Program, Inc. ($29,829.) - The San Joaquin River Restoration Summer Youth Program will involve 36 underserved youth in River Restoration activities including river cleanup and invasive plant removal. Youth will learn about river restoration, gain valuable work experience, and be exposed to environmental careers.
  • Fresno Food Commons Trust ($50,000.) - This project will support smart growth in Fresno through healthy, sustainable local food system development. It will: 1) develop a multi-use food hub facility through a direct public offering, and 2) establish a Food Accessibility Fund and outreach campaign to increase consumption of healthy local food in low-income communities.
  • Leadership for Jobs and a New Economy ($15,000.) - Building on our successful Community Organizer Training, this training teaches NGO's and community leaders skills to build influence through constructive engagement on regional public policy (i.e-SCS, General Plans) around resilience, jobs, and the environment. Instructors include nationally recognized trainers, California NGO ED's, business leaders, and closes with a public, expert panel on economic opportunity available through sustainability policies.
  • Community Water Center ($50,000.) - CWC will engage diverse stakeholders to advocate for improved local planning to address and mitigate the effects of the drought. CWC will focus on groundwater protection and land-use planning in Tulare and Fresno Counties, fostering the smart growth principles of improved public health, sustainable development, and drought resiliency.
  • Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability ($50,000.) - We will continue to convene regional partners to build upon our momentum of transforming land use and investment policies and program in the region. We will continue our engagement in SB 375 implementation and related decision-making processes in Tulare, Fresno, Madera, and Merced Counties.
  • San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust ($20,171.) - The San Joaquin River Parkway & Conservation Trust is negotiating with a willing seller for the acquisition of a parcel on the San Joaquin River in Merced County.  Acquisition of the property will benefit the river restoration by potentially provided habitat for impacted special status species.  The Trust has submitted a grant to the CVPIA/CVPCP program to cover the land purchase and is requesting funding for due diligence activities including a site assessment and appraisal.
  • Self-Help Enterprises ($25,000.) - SHE is requesting assistance in developing the SHE Smart Growth Initiative (SGI).  The SGI will focus on improving public health, access to green space, and the establishment of a community garden at the affordable rental community of Highland Gardens.

2014 Grantees

San Joaquin River Stewardship Program, Inc. - San Joaquin River Restoration Summer Youth Program - $50,000.00: A project designed for youth from disadvantaged communities to participate in River Restoration activities including river cleanup, invasive plant removal, and hatchery projects.

Food Commons Fresno Trust - Smart Food for Smart Growth - $50,000: A project to support smart growth in Fresno through healthy, sustainable local food system development. It will: 1) deploy mobile markets in food deserts; 2) curb sprawl and preserve farmland for local food production at the urban edge, and 3) direct community investment into smart local food enterprises.

Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability - Building Momentum, Building Community Strength, Building a Sustainable Region - $50,000: A project to identify, prioritize and fund strategic smart growth investments in low-income urban and rural communities through cross-sector collaboration, residents participation, and collaboration with government.

Office of Community and Economic Development - StreetsAlive: a Walking and Bicycling Audit Program - $39,880: A project to support rural cities in thinking about Smart Growth by engaging residents and government officials to develop a Walking and Bicycling Audit Program (StreetsAlive), to promote and support walkable and bicycle-friendly communities in Avenal, Dos Palos, Mendota, Orange Cove and San Joaquin.

Community Water Center - Fostering smart growth by advancing water solutions for disadvantaged communities - $25,000: A project to engage residents and government officials to advance disadvantaged community water solutions in the Tulare Lake Basin region by coordinating and convening stakeholder groups focused on disadvantaged community water solutions in the Tulare Lake Basin.

Fresno Metro Ministry - Blackstone Corridor ‘Smart Mobility’ Design and Constituency Development in Fresno - $25,000: A project to build new diverse cross-sector constituencies of informed residents, businesses, and institutional leaders for achieving integrated in-fill, economic development, and revitalized healthy neighborhoods along the Blackstone Corridor in Fresno to prepare this key corridor for Bus Rapid Transit.

Madera Coalition for Community Justice- Public Transit and Open Space - $20,120: A pilot project to build capacity in Madera County to build awareness, education, and engagement for underserved populations. It will help establish an organizational framework that promotes a healthy community based on Smart Growth drove strategies to create a safe and sustainable environment to ensure efficient development patterns, economic and social vitality, and basic needs for all.

Tulare Basin Wildlife Partners - Education and Advocacy for Resource Sustainability in the Tulare Basin - $15,000: A project to conduct outreach, education, and advocacy to raise awareness and build consensus for sustainable natural resource planning strategies and smart growth principles in Fresno, Kings, and Tulare Counties.

2013 Grantees

Fresno Metro Ministry $35,000 will establish a regional hub for multi-sector constituency networks in Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties. These networks will develop the Civic Infrastructure needed to influence city and county policies that reflect the needs and aspirations of broad and diverse communities for Smart Growth and Healthy Neighborhoods.

Leadership Council for Justice and Accountability $30,000 Despite its innovative approach to planning, "smart growth" threatens to perpetuate under -investment in rural communities and does not go far enough to protect low-income urban neighborhoods from displacement. This project will ensure equitable smart growth that increases investment and opportunities in existing communities of the San Joaquin Valley.

Fresno City College- Child Development Center $21,000 seeks to host a mini-grant competition for local child care centers to facilitate the creation/expansion of their garden. By infusing the centers' curriculum with gardening and other nutrition-related activities these centers will make inroads against childhood obesity and related illnesses in the Central Valley.

Tulare Basin Wildlife Partners $19,000 focuses on outreach to land use decision-makers in the Tulare Basin so that they are fluent in the language of natural resources and plan growth strategies sensitive to the importance, location, and temperament of the air, soil, water, and wildlife that affect us so profoundly.

California State University Fresno Biology Department $24,000 includes the US Fish & Wildlife Service, CA Fish & Wildlife, and CSU-Fresno faculty and students. We will determine the management actions to reduce the impact of non-native fish predators on juvenile Chinook salmon in order to successfully reintroduce this important species to the San Joaquin River.

Revive the San Joaquin $26,000 will engage our community in on-going programs developed to protect and restore our river. Baseline habitat assessment, water quality monitoring and broad community involvement in riparian restoration activities will be combined to form site-based projects that can be sustained through community involvement.

Building Better Budgets: A National Examination of the Fiscal Benefits of Smart Growth Development, Smart Growth America, 05/2013 - Surveys 17 studies that compare different development scenarios. Aggregates comparisons of different development scenarios and determines a national average of how much communities can expect to save by using smart growth strategies.

Smart Growth and the Greening of Comprehensive Plans and Land Use Regulations, by Patricia Salkin, Albany Law School,

Smart Growth, TDM Encyclopedia, Victoria Transport Policy Institute - Focus on the integration between transportation and land use

Evaluating Criticism of Smart Growth, by Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, 09/10/2012

12 Cities Leading the Way in Sustainability, by John Light, 01/04/2013, Moyers and Company - List includes Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle 

How Smaller Cities are Taking the Lead in Sustainability Innovation, By Sven Eberlein, AlterNet, 07/31/2012

It's Only Natural: Converging Trends Drive Sustainable Territories to the Top of Our Annual Ranking, by Adam Bruns, Site Selection magazine, July 2013 - Annual rankings for Top Sustainable States, Metros and Foreign Countries

Smart Growth Reforms: Changing Planning Regulatory and Fiscal Practices to Support More Efficient Land Use, by Todd Littman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, 04/24/2014

Smart Growth Savings: What We Know About Public Infrastructure and Service Cost Savings, And How They are Misrepresented By Critics, 04/24/2014, by Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute

Overcoming Obstacles to Smart Growth Through Code Reform, An Executive Summary of Smart Growth Zoning Codes: A Resource Guide, Local Government Commission (CA)

Smart Growth Checklist (), A Checklist for Proposed Development Projects in Your Community, NY State Department of Transportation

SB 375 and Smart Growth: Funders' Network Presentation (3444 KB)

Smart Growth and Children's Health: Dr. Richard Jackson (2984 KB)

Link: Smart Valley Places

Link: Smart Growth Principles: SJV Blueprint Planning Process

Smart Growth Information by Topic

The following information is organized by specific subject areas that relate to smart growth issues.


Economic Development




Land Use

  • Innovative Land Use Planning Techniques: A Handbook For Sustainable Development, NH Department of Environmental Services
  • Land Use, Sustainability and Healthy Communities, California Local Government Institute - Handbooks, guides and other publications on a variety of land use and sustainability topics
  • Smart Land Use, Victoria Transport Policy Institute - Links to related articles 
  • Sustainable Land Use Code Project, Model Land Use Regulations, Capitol Region Council of Governments (CT), Clarion, 2014 – Includes topics such as solar, geothermal & small wind energy, inclusionary workforce housing, and mixed-use transit-oriented development

Natural Resources


Healthy Communities


Environment Grants Committee

2016 Environment grants committee

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