In 2008, the Central Valley Community Foundation launched an initiative to address issues facing youth in the central San Joaquin Valley. This initiative seeks to address the high rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in the counties of Fresno, Tulare, Madera, Merced, and Kings. As of 2016, teen pregnancy rates in the San Joaquin Valley continue to be the highest in California. Astoundingly, The Public Health Institute estimates that teen births and their consequences cost more than $130 million annually in the Central Valley.

Through a partnership with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Anthem, the Central Valley Community Foundation launched the Transformative Opportunities for Youth (TOY) grant initiative. TOY provides funding to organizations and programs supporting teens by providing youth leadership development, reproductive health services, comprehensive sexual education, and teen-parent educational support. Since the grant cycle’s inception, over 40,000 teens have benefited from the funded programs in Madera, Tulare, and Fresno. CVCF has provided over $2.7 million in funding to nonprofit organizations in the Central Valley, with investments being matched at a rate of 2:1 by the awarded organizations. “Adolescence is hard enough to navigate without the added weight of parenthood,” begins Kelvin F. Alfaro, Director of Programs and Evaluation at CVCF, “Yet too many teens in the Central Valley are parents while they’re still children. Further, teen sexuality, a delicate issue anywhere, is especially hard to discuss here. CVCF’s funded programs have tirelessly worked for the last decade to sow programs and services that value and integrate the unique attributes of the Valley, teens, and parents as a path to success. Comprehensive sexual education and clinical services are part of the solution, but most importantly, providing a mentorship “rite of passage” and academic, job, and life skills support are key to increasing the opportunities for youth to thrive as individuals, as parents, and as positive contributors to our communities.”

On November 9, 2017, CVCF was thrilled to award over half a million dollars to seven community organizations for the 2017 TOY grant cycle. The 2017 TOY grantees include: Teen Success, Inc.; The Foundation at FCOE, Inc.; the California State University, Fresno Foundation; Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County; The Latino Commission – Nuevo Comienzo; Woodlake High School; and the UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program. The reception, held at UCSF Fresno’s Center for Medical Education and Research, was attended by dozens of guests and representatives from the awarded organizations, as well as special guest Assemblymember (D-31) Dr. Joaquin Arambula. Dr. Arambula, a former emergency room physician and Medical Director at Adventist Hospital in Selma, said, “While California teen birth rates have declined to record-low levels, the Central Valley continues to have some of the highest rates in the state. Research shows that socioeconomic factors, such as poverty, unemployment, and educational attainment result in disproportionate impacts of teen pregnancy on disadvantaged communities.”

Reception attendees listen as CVCF President and CEO Ashley Swearengin speaks.

Each of this year’s grantees has demonstrated a commitment to supporting youth in the Central Valley through comprehensive youth development initiatives. “These grants provide holistic support to teens and their families by focusing on prevention as well as skills development and health services,” began CVCF President and CEO, Ashley Swearengin. “Grant funds will also be used to attract and retain much-needed skilled medical professionals to serve in Central Valley hospitals and clinics. Investing in the health and well-being of young people continues to be a top priority for the Central Valley Community Foundation.” One of this year’s grantees, the UCSF Fresno Medical Program, was recognized for their contributions to the Central Valley and its youth population through their San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (SJV PRIME). SJV PRIME trains future physicians, providing a pathway emphasizing the quality of care anchored in community-based research and educational experiences.

Keep scrolling for more photos from this year’s TOY grant reception!

Representatives from Teen Success, Inc. pose with CVCF’s Director of Programs and Evaluation, Kelvin F. Alfaro (far left), Dr. Joaquin Arambula (second from the left), and CVCF President and CEO Ashley Swearengin (far right). Teen Success, Inc. was awarded over $81,000.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County was awarded $90,000.

The Latino Commission – Nuevo Comienzo was awarded $90,000.

Woodlake High School was awarded $38,500.

The California State University, Fresno Foundation was awarded over $97,000.

The Foundation at FCOE, Inc. was awarded $92,000.

The UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program was awarded over $80,000. Dr Kenny Banh, assistant dean for Undergraduate Medical Education and Student Services at UCSF Fresno, said, “We are sincerely grateful to the Central Valley Community Foundation[, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation,] and Anthem for supporting UCSF Fresno, particularly our efforts to train and retain future physicians in the region and expand access to health care in underserved areas.”

Congratulations to this year’s grantees! For more information on grants from CVCF, please contact Kelvin F. Alfaro, at: kelvin@centralvalleycf.org.