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This webinar was first published online on April 17, 2020.

When thinking of California, Fresno is rarely front of mind. But Fresno County, home to over 940,000 people and a national agricultural leader, is central to the US economy. Still, beneath the fertile Central Valley soil is tremendous racial and economic inequality in the majority people-of-color city. Fresno residents are working to change that. A little over a year ago, Fresno allocated $66 million in capital investment through participatory budgeting, the largest use of that process in US history.

As is true everywhere, the current pandemic has upended Fresno. During this webinar, held in mid-April, participants discuss both the effects of the pandemic, as well as how to advance a more equitable, post-pandemic Fresno future.

We begin our visit to Fresno with an interview of Sabina Gonzalez-Eraña, program manager of Central/West Fresno City for The California Endowment. We then turn to three distinguished individuals, who talk about their work before, during, and what they envision after our current global health emergency.

This webinar explores:

  • How Fresno is responding to the global pandemic emergency.
  • How community development financial institutions are supporting community-based development in Fresno and the Central Valley.
  • How Fresno is addressing historic environmental racism.
  • How participatory budgeting works, and what was needed to engage the public in disadvantaged neighborhoods to plan the expenditure of $66 million.
  • Fresno’s path to embedding racial justice in its regional economic plan and the anticipated challenges in implementation.
  • How the Fresno community is organizing to build support for a healthier local food system in a region that has been dominated by commercial agriculture.

For one individual’s perspective on the Fresno DRIVE initiative (also discussed in the webinar), see Ismael Herrera, Fresno DRIVE: A Template for Inclusive and Equitable Regional Economic Development, Fresno, CA: California Forward, April 2020.