"I believe we have to quit the waiting game and begin to act together to address the critical issues in the community. No one is coming to save us...we need to do this ourselves." --James E. Canales, CEO, The James Irvine Foundation

Why 3rd Grade is Important

Why is the 3rd grade such an important milestone? After 3rd grade, a child must transition from learning to read, to reading to learn. The 4th grade curriculum assumes children can read and expects children to use this skill to solve more complex problems. Children who read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade are much more likely to graduate from high school on time, attend college, and obtain higher-wage jobs.

We understand that multiple social determinants affect a child’s ability to become literate by the 3rd grade.

For example, children need:

  • Families who have sufficient income for decent housing, food, health and dental care, and books.
  • Parents who know how to support their children’s learning in and out of school, and who are able to embrace their role as a child’s first teacher.
  • Adequate family resources to support children to be at school on time, every day, and help children maintain what they’ve learned over the summer months.
  • High-quality early childhood education, so that more children arrive in kindergarten with the language and social skills needed for learning.
  • Schools that embrace and respect students’ home culture and serve as a community hub for services and opportunities for students, parents and families.

Now is a unique moment in time for action in the San Joaquin Valley. We want to change what children living in poverty can expect from life. There are many bright spots such as promising new programs, heightened national attention on the San Joaquin Valley, and new school innovations. 

We believe that the grant dollars in The Fund for the San Joaquin Valley can have a transformative effect on our community’s children if we focus our resources for the next several years on ensuring that:

  • In-school and out-of-school programs prepare children to succeed in school by the end of the 3rd grade mutually reinforce and build upon one another’s strengths.
  • New programs close gaps in the web of support for children and families living in poverty and directly impact a child’s ability to succeed in school by the 3rd grade milestone.
  • Organizations think and work holistically to help children succeed in school by the end of the 3rd grade, and understand how their individual programs contribute to this larger goal.
  • Organizations are able to track and measure their progress toward a shared definition of success, and have timely information about what works, and what doesn’t, so that they can course-correct along the way.
If we work together in this way, we believe that the sum of all our efforts can be truly greater than the parts.

Donate to The FUND

The Fund Brochure


2013 High Impact Reception

First Year of Forever

High Impact Grantees Presentation

          Creation of the Fund

The Fresno Regional Foundation created THE FUND for the San Joaquin Valley in the fall of 2011. It is a partnership between local donors, Fresno Regional Foundation, and The James Irvine Foundation. Irvine helped launch THE FUND with a $3 million, three-year grant. 

Dollars from THE FUND will be invested in programs that produce high impact for our community. Nearly $1 million will be awarded in each of the next three years, using an approach that features large-scale, multi-year grants. THE FUND is inspiring new givers while adding a meaningful opportunity for current donors. Through an endowment model, local giving can replace the initial $3 million donation and grow 

THE FUND to $20 million. Our goal is to sustain grantmaking at levels of one million dollars each year forever! Photo: Dan DeSantis, Jim Canales and Dewey Slater announced the Fund for the San Joaquin Valley on October 26, 2011.

2014 High Impact Advisory Committee

Advisory Committee 

Advisory Committee member Ken Newby

Advisory Committee members Ernie Hernandez and Angie Cisneros participate in high impact decision making

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