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The Year In Broadband…

Broadband has long been recognized as indispensable to equity and economic development. In recent years, significant progress has been made to ensure statewide access. Still, over 8 million California residents do not have broadband subscriptions. We have a long way to go before broadband in California is truly ubiquitous. 

In 2020, there has been accelerated momentum around the issue. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced many Californians to pivot some of the most crucial elements of their life — work, school, healthcare, access to services — to an online setting. This shift is an urgent reminder that, in this day and age, broadband infrastructure and adoption is as crucial as roads or electricity.

Valley Vision works with counties, cities, anchor institutions, community groups, businesses, policymakers, and others to bridge the Digital Divide and promote equal access to technology. In 2020, this was embodied in our work contributing to state broadband policy, together with the California Broadband Council, California Forward, the California Emerging Technology Fund, and legislative leaders; our continued role as manager of the Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium; and our management of the Sacramento Coalition for Digital Inclusion, among others. Broadband infrastructure and adoption is also identified as a high priority of the region’s Prosperity Strategy.

State-level highlights:

  • Valley Vision worked closely with California Forward, the California Emerging Technology Fund, and regional broadband consortia to provide input on AB 14, the Internet for All Now Act of 2021. The Bill would authorize the ongoing collection of an existing surcharge on revenues collected by telecommunications providers from customers. The surcharge funds the California Advanced Services Fund, which provides rural and urban communities with infrastructure and other grants administered by the California Public Utilities Commission. This new legislation was announced by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry at the California Economic Summit during a panel on Bridging the Digital Divide, together with Senator Mike McGuire; Trish Kelly, Managing Director of Valley Vision; and Deputy Director Stephanie Tom of the California Department of Technology. Senator Lena Gonzalez introduced similar legislation SB 4, the Broadband for All Now Act. Both legislators will be principal co-authors on each Bill. This is a major milestone and we hope for quick action in 2021
  • Valley Vision, in collaboration with the California Broadband Council and California Forward, facilitated input for the State’s Broadband Action Plan. An updated draft of the Plan was presented at the Broadband Council’s meeting on Thursday, December 17. The Plan provides a rich overview of the state of broadband across the State, a financial cost model for reaching all Californians with high-speed Internet, and many recommendations for action in 2021. 
  • Valley Vision co-led this year’s Ensuring Broadband For All working group at the California Economic Summit. The group’s efforts focused on increasing broadband access and adoption in both rural and urban areas. The group developed core principles to drive funding and policy solutions; encouraged collaboration on legislative solutions; supported the State Broadband Action Plan; and worked with the California Public Utilities Commission and others on innovative approaches to infrastructure investment, including leveraging federal resources.

Regional highlights:

  • Valley Vision manages the Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium. Funding for the Consortium was renewed by the California Public Utilities Commission in October 2019, for a three-year period. The Consortium is charged with engaging stakeholders to achieve the broadband connectivity goal of 98% of all households, assisting internet service providers in the region with their California Advanced Services Fund infrastructure grant applications, among other goals. In 2020, Digital Path and Frontier submitted a total of three applications to carry out broadband deployment in Sacramento, Sutter, and Yolo Counties. The Consortium will continue to work with incumbent, competitive, and new entrant internet service providers.
  • Valley Vision, together with its partners, finalized and published the Sacramento Region’s Prosperity Strategy — the economic roadmap that ensures a strong, inclusive, and equitable economy. The Strategy calls out broadband infrastructure and adoption, including digital skills acquisition, as high priorities for the region, and was approved by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. 
  • Valley Vision is working with local government partners in Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba Counties to identify priority areas for broadband expansions or upgrades, including 5G. This includes generating an infrastructure and asset inventory in collaboration with the California Public Utilities Commission, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, Caltrans, CENIC, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, the Los Rios Community College District, Sacramento State, the City of Sacramento, the Sacramento Promise Zone, among others.
  • Valley Vision, the California Emerging Technology Fund, and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments virtually co-convened broadband partners and stakeholders to discuss strategies for accelerating broadband infrastructure investments across the region. The event also showcased highlights of “Getting Connected,” a resource guide for local and regional government leaders featuring best practices, policies, and innovative models to catalyze infrastructure investment and adoption. The resource guide will be rolled out statewide in January 2021
  • Valley Vision put out a Business Broadband Service Survey to assess the current status of broadband service availability and subscription for businesses and community anchor institutions. Results from the survey will help determine and recommend improvements to broadband stakeholders, such as providers and local governments. Outreach for this survey will continue in 2021, through social media, newsletters, and outreach to business chambers. 
  • Valley Vision launched a campaign — via social media, its newsletters, and outreach to partners and stakeholders — around ground-truth testing of broadband speeds using the CalSPEED app. The app securely tests residential and mobile broadband speeds. Often, the speeds reported by internet service providers are not accurate. Information from the CalSPEED app creates an accurate assessment of actual broadband availability and adoption. Results are used to update the California Public Utilities Commission statewide coverage map and inform infrastructure investments. The campaign resulted in more than 500 CalSPEED tests in our Consortium region. It will continue throughout 2021.
  • Valley Vision is completing its Preferred Scenario report for the region, in partnership with the California Emerging Technology Fund. The Preferred Scenario report identifies gaps in broadband deployment and access and the available local assets to address these gaps for the region’s Preferred Scenario corridor the I -5 corridor. This corridor was identified through the Strategic Broadband Corridors project with Caltrans and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. This report will identify strategies for leveraging investments. 
  • Valley Vision, in partnership with the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources and the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, hosted a webinar focused on exploring innovative broadband infrastructure solutions, specifically the co-op model.
  • The Federal Communications Commission announced  the results of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction. Winners in our Consortium region (Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba Counties) include Cal.Net, Geolinks, Frontier, LTD Broadband, and Space Exploration Technologies (Space X). Most locations will be receiving broadband with speeds of 100/20 Mbps, and gigabit-speed broadband. Click here to see the map.

Local highlights:

  • Valley Vision is developing a Broadband Master Plan for Yuba County, in partnership with the County and Yuba Water Agency. The plan will be completed in the second quarter of 2021. 
  • Valley Vision is managing the Sacramento Coalition for Digital Inclusion, in collaboration with the city of Sacramento, the Sacramento Public Library, the Los Rios Community College District, California State University Sacramento, and Clear Strategies, among other community partners. The Coalition will be rolling out the 2021 Action Plan for broadband access, adoption, affordability, and digital inclusion and skills, including scale-up opportunities beyond Sacramento County. 
  • Valley Vision, in collaboration with the Delta Protection Commission, developed a broadband coverage report that will help to identify areas where service most needs improvement. This will empower community leaders and internet service providers to leverage existing opportunities for service expansion and upgrades, and to seek broadband deployment funding.    

Valley Vision hosted a webinar on “Community Broadband in Yolo County,” in partnership with the Woodland Technology Alliance. The webinar was a conversation about the current state of the County’s technical infrastructure, as well as solutions to address the community’s broadband gaps. A full recording can be found here, and a summary of the discussion can be found here.

To continue staying up to date with all of the region’s broadband efforts, subscribe to Valley Vision’s e-Connect email newsletter!

Trish Kelly is Valley Vision’s Managing Director, leading its food, agriculture, workforce, and broadband initiatives.

David Espinoza is a Valley Vision Project Leader managing broadband projects and other initiatives in the Innovation & Infrastructure impact area.

Isa Avanceña is a Valley Vision Project Associate supporting the Board of Directors, and the Innovation & Infrastructure and Leadership and Civic Engagement Impact areas.

A Tense Week

Photo Credit: Andrew Nixon / CapRadio

This has been a tense week and there is much that we don’t know. We still don’t know the outcomes of many elections, including who the next U.S. President will be. We also face a higher degree of uncertainty than we normally might after an election season, regardless of the outcomes. There may be tumult as we look into the next few months, with pandemic numbers on the rise, new leaders and policies coming in on national, state, and local levels, and intense community hardships and ongoing divisions occurring in our communities.

There are some things that we do know. We know that the divisions that we see nationally are also reflected here in our region. We see a microcosm of the red and blue patchwork in our region as we do in the nation – with our urban core, including most of Sacramento, Yolo, and Placer counties, leaning Democratic while many of our suburban or rural communities, especially El Dorado, Yuba, and Sutter counties, leaning Republican. Across the region, we see 50/50 splits on liberal/conservative candidates and issues, just like in the nation as a whole. We learned in our recent COVID-19 Resilience Poll that people in the region are losing a sense of goodwill for government and institutions on the national, state, and local levels. So, knowing that uncertainty and division remain, where do we go from here?

We focus on what we know needs to be done and we keep working. We saw from our recent COVID-19 Resilience Poll that people and communities are suffering from the effects of the pandemic – including struggling to afford basic necessities, experiencing depression and anxiety as well as threats to physical well-being, feeling stress from balancing work and home demands, and losing goodwill towards government and institutions. We also know that the effects are being experienced much more intensely for people of color in the region and that younger adults are carrying a heavier burden in many cases.

Beyond knowing that hardships are happening, we also have a sense of where people need support. Affordable housing, access to jobs, extra support for people and businesses who have lost their livelihood, food access, health care access, and broadband connectivity to name a few. Further, we must find the bridges that enable us to work together on the things that matter most. Data-driven action to build common purpose. Listening to and empowering diverse community voices in leadership and decision-making. Holding ourselves and others accountable to address the very real struggles in our communities. Building on our strengths and assets across the region. We know what we need to do, even in the face of political division and possible tumult. Now more than ever, we need to keep working on the issues that matter to build resiliency, equity, health, and prosperity in our communities.

To keep up with Valley Vision’s work to advance livability in the Sacramento region, subscribe to our Vantage Point email newsletter!

Evan Schmidt is Valley Vision’s Chief Executive Officer.

Covid-19 Is Taking a Toll on the Capital Region, Recent Regional Poll Reveals

October 20, 2020 – Valley Vision has published the second COVID-19 Resilience Poll this week in partnership with Capital Public Radio. This polling report is focused on understanding experiences, impacts, and attitudes about COVID-19 from residents in our region, and was conducted by the Institute for Social Research at Sacramento State. The COVID-19 Resilience Poll is a demographically representative survey of the eight-county region (Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado, Placer, Yuba, Sutter, Solano, and San Joaquin) and reported a margin of error of +/-3%. You can find the full COVID-19 Resilience Poll here.

“This survey is the second in our series of three COVID-19 polls. This poll, and the others in the series, tracks how the experiences, perceptions, concerns, and hopes of people in the Capital region are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” noted Evan Schmidt, CEO of Valley Vision. “Having this detailed, data-driven insight about COVID-19’s ongoing impacts on the people and communities we serve is vitally important to our public service mission,” said Jun Reina, executive vice president and general manager of CapRadio, of the partnership with Valley Vision.

The poll results reflect the hardship being felt across the region in the truly hard time we are going through — threats to physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being; income loss and job instability; division in our views about the state of things; and the uncertainties of the future. In most cases, data reported in the first poll, published in July, has continued or worsened in the months since then. For example, nearly half of respondents to this poll said they had lost income as a result of the virus; the same was true in July. 

As well, different communities continue to experience markedly different realities. People of color, younger adults, and those earning lower incomes are more likely to have lost income, to report mental health challenges, and to find it very difficult to have children schooling from home, among other impacts. “These disparities are consistent with the data from the first poll, as well as what’s being reported nationwide about what COVID-19 is causing, and the ways in which it’s worsening existing inequalities in our communities,” noted Shannon Williams, executive director of the Institute for Social Research. 

Political polarization within the region has increased compared with the first poll. Many respondents are dissatisfied with leadership at various levels, and for different reasons, and that dissatisfaction has grown, and is also more likely, now, to extend to the local level, including local governments, local media, and local businesses.

This poll also reveals evidence of fatigue, including decreases in emotional resilience, diminished trust in institutions, and also declines in some precautionary actions related to COVID. These results may point to people’s fatigue with isolating and also to the daily challenges of the added complexities of life during COVID.

The detailed poll results are accessible in several ways:

Additionally, Valley Vision’s polling partners have each issued their own press releases.

About Valley Vision: For 25 years Valley Vision has helped governments, businesses, foundations and community groups better understand our region and its people through high quality research. By uncovering common ground facts using scientific opinion polls, focus groups, community needs assessments, best practice reports and other research tools, Valley Vision is a trusted interpreter, commentator, forecaster and work partner for community inspired solutions.

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Getting Connected in the Capital Region: A Roundtable on Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure Investments

Accelerating broadband infrastructure investment has never been more urgent. Ubiquitous broadband is indispensable to our region’s recovery and resilience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, October 1, Valley Vision, the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) virtually co-convened broadband partners and stakeholders to discuss how to accelerate broadband infrastructure investments across the region. The event also launched highlights of “Getting Connected,” a resource guide for local and regional government leaders to deploy 21st century broadband infrastructure. As manager of the CPUC-funded Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium (CCABC), Valley Vision partnered with CETF on preparing this leading-edge resource guide, which features best practices, policies, and innovative models to accelerate broadband infrastructure investment and adoption. 

Trish Kelly (Managing Director for Valley Vision) and Sunne McPeak (President and CEO of CETF) began the event with welcome remarks. They provided an overview of the CCABC mission; the Greater Sacramento Region Prosperity Strategy’s broadband infrastructure, access, and adoption priorities; Valley Vision and CETF’s Preferred Scenarios work identifying unserved communities, available public assets, and funding needs; as well as major new opportunities in the broadband space, following the Governor’s Executive Order N-73-20 for the California Broadband Council to create the California Broadband for All Plan by the end of the year.

Dr. David Espinoza (Valley Vision’s Project Lead for Innovation and Infrastructure) emphasized the need for increased investment in broadband. Espinoza did a deep dive into new data he generated estimating the cost of filling broadband gaps in the CCABC Region to achieve the State’s goal of 98% broadband service connectivity for households. The presentation featured coverage maps at different speed thresholds, and the methodology to calculate the cost per household for technologies such as fiber-to-the-home and fixed wireless in different geography and terrain scenarios.

Next, Isa Avanceña (Project Associate at Valley Vision), presented an overview of the Resource Guide. The Guide includes an overview of select broadband plans and ordinances across the State; case studies for broadband deployment and adoption; and a list of additional resources from national and state broadband agencies and organizations. It covers crucial topics such as broadband master plans, Dig Once/”Dig Smart” policies, municipal fiber to the premises, master license agreements, and 5G. The Resource Guide is being finalized, and will be released and widely disseminated in November. 

The event also brought together regional internet service providers and local elected officials in a two-part roundtable. Espinoza facilitated a roundtable discussion with a panel of Internet service and broadband infrastructure providers that included Crown Castle, Digital Path, GeoLinks, Zayo, and T-Mobile. In their discussion, the panelists identified what they need from jurisdictions in order to reduce the barriers to broadband infrastructure and deployment, as well as some of the best practices that they’ve come across currently being implemented in some cities and counties. Kelly facilitated a roundtable discussion with a panel of local elected officials: Mayor Pro Tempore Tom Stallard of the City of Woodland, Supervisor Don Nottoli of Sacramento County, and Supervisor Gary Bradford of Yuba County. They highlighted some of the challenges they face in getting fast and reliable internet access to all communities in their jurisdictions, and the solutions that they’d like to pursue to move the needle on the issue. 

The event generated a lot of momentum to accelerate partnerships and investments across the Capital Region, with collaboration and communication being two actions identified by all as essential to economic recovery and progress. Valley Vision thanks CETF for its continued support of our mission, and thanks all who participated; we look forward to advancing timely and effective solutions with our partners across the region. 

Event materials are available on the Valley Vision website, and provide more detailed information on the subject matter and outcomes:

This blog focuses on just some of the updates at the state, county, and local level. To continue staying up to date with all of the region’s broadband efforts, subscribe to Valley Vision’s e-Connect email newsletter!

The First 90 Days

As of this week, I’ve been in the position of CEO of Valley Vision for 90 days – which is often counted as a milestone for a new job. During these 90 days I’ve focused on learning the job; engaging with community partners, stakeholders, Board, and staff; and developing a set of priorities for Valley Vision into 2021. What is my vision for Valley Vision?

1. Deepening Our Commitment to Social and Racial Equity

My career focus has always been on strengthening equity in communities – from early in my career working on gender equity to the many projects I’ve advanced at Valley Vision that create equitable opportunities. As CEO, it is important to me that Valley Vision’s commitment to social and racial equity be authentic and apparent through our actions. In July, the Valley Vision staff team participated in a Whiteness at Work web series to examine how dominant white culture and anti-Black culture impacts our staff, teams, and work in and for the community. We ended the series with new resources, a new staff-led Equity Subcommittee, and an identified set of actions to cultivate inclusion and equity within our staff and through our work. We are starting with ourselves – building trust, team cohesion, and a common set of values that are foundational to our work. Our goal is to develop our own framework to advance operationalizing equity in our organization and throughout our work.

2. Visionary Planning and Investment Strategies

Valley Vision’s role in the region is to set our eyes on long-term solutions to create economic prosperity, social equity, and environmental sustainability in the region. To do this, Valley Vision is known for advancing research, fostering collaboration, and catalyzing action. We also need an engine to achieve needed investment to solve our region’s larger challenges. Therefore, Valley Vision is engaging in more intentional investment planning including working with community leaders and partners to create comprehensive, co-designed strategies which will create project and investment-ready coalitions to advance bold solutions. We have an opportunity to meet our region’s greatest challenges together through ambitious, co-owned solutions that will position our region as one of the most livable in the nation.

Our first focus is on developing an investment strategy to advance digital inclusion in the region by expanding broadband infrastructure and connectivity, supporting access to needed technology for all, and advancing digital skills for the workforce. We are already co-leading the Sacramento Coalition for Digital Inclusion with other partners to create the systems, tools, and skills needed for all to fully participate in civic life, education, and work. Reaching our long-term solution to truly create digital equity in the region will require a big-umbrella vision to inspire investment — because if we don’t know where we are going, how will we get there?

3. Creating Actionable Research and Sharing Our Insights 

Our region and communities are transforming more rapidly than in generations. Between coronavirus, effects of climate change, upcoming elections, the pace of technology change and adaptation, and more – life has never been so complex. That is why it is more essential than ever to have the data and information needed to adapt, recover, and reimagine our future. There are a few main areas where we will grow our research capacity by focusing on actionable research and advancing a commitment to sharing best practices.

  • Actionable Research: We believe that decisions should be informed with data and we are expanding our capacity to create actionable research. We have already built two new partnerships in the last six months to be able to do just that – Capital Public Radio for our polling initiative and Burning Glass Technologies to analyze rapidly changing workforce needs. We’ve also hired Dr. David Espinoza to manage the Connected Capital Broadband Consortium – bringing his GIS and other analytical expertise to our team.
  • Sharing Lessons Learned: Valley Vision’s ability to collect and analyze unique data for the region is one of our key strengths. We generate a tremendous amount of data and lessons learned at Valley Vision, but it has not always been our regular practice to slow down in order to share the unique data and the stories from the field that we have collected. I’m very committed to reporting out regularly as well as connecting with other publications and networks to share our work, insights, and recommendations. 

The Valley Vision I envision is an inclusive organization with clear values around equity; is action-oriented, collaborative, and poised to do big things; and is always pushing forward to find new information, connect the dots, and support data-driven decision-making in our region. Let’s get to work.

To keep up with Valley Vision’s work to advance livability in the Sacramento region, subscribe to our Vantage Point email newsletter!

Evan Schmidt is Valley Vision’s Chief Executive Officer.

Highlighting Sacramento Region Digital Inclusion Efforts

There has never been a more critical time for discussion of digital inclusion which has recently been referred to by the Center for Public Integrity as the “civil rights issue of our time.”  As the Pandemic has upended education and workforce, it has left in its wake a widening chasm between community members with resources and those without.  In recognition of National Digital Inclusion week, Valley Vision highlights the history, continuing collaborative work, and new momentum of the Sacramento Coalition for Digital Inclusion, a regional approach to creating more opportunities for digital equity.

Discussion which formed the beginnings of the Sacramento Coalition for Digital Inclusion began in the fall of 2018 inspired by a Brookings Institution report on the strengths and weaknesses of the Sacramento Capital region.  A series of community discussions occurred to organize around the mission of digital equity, with the Sacramento Public Library hosting the Sacramento Digital Inclusion Summit in January 2019. This led to the creation of the Sacramento Coalition for Digital Inclusion, with more than 40 members, led by a Steering Committee comprised of the City of Sacramento, the Sacramento Public Library, Valley Vision  and Social Ventures Partners. During 2019, the Coalition built collaborative relationships, conducted assessments of needs including through community engagement, and produced an initial report focused on increasing digital access, both to affordable Internet and devices, and digital literacy/skills. The City of Sacramento passed a resolution in October 2019 to launch National Digital Inclusion Week in the region.  

With the onset of the Pandemic, the work of the Coalition became even more important and the need for a funding mechanism to drive forward momentum and staff this increasingly important body of work required an urgent solution.  Valley Vision has been successful in securing short term funding to continue and expand this valuable work through the Morgan Family Foundation and Union Bank, on behalf of community partners and stakeholders.

Current Coalition Steering Committee members include the City of Sacramento, the Sacramento Public Library, and Valley Vision, joined by representatives from Los Rios Community College District and California State University Sacramento, with the Coalition being a vibrant group of over 60 community members and leaders.  Three working groups were successfully relaunched in a well attended September Coalition meeting to establish key objectives and drive the work plan of the Coalition in the areas of Internet Access and Adoption, Technology Devices, and Digital Literacy/Digital Skills.  

Valley Vision is thankful to the dedicated efforts of the Steering Committee and all members committing their time and talent to align and drive investment in a regional and sustained response to urgent digital inclusion needs.  We invite you to join in this work at our next Coalition meeting on October 23rd 11 am to 12:30 pm and help us build a regional digital inclusion work plan to address disparities throughout our region and build a better future for all.  

Sacramento Coalition for Digital Inclusion Steering Committee:

  • Aubrey Taylor, City of Sacramento
  • Jarrid Keller, Sacramento Public Library
  • Karina Talamantes, City of Sacramento, Sacramento County Board of Education
  • Kevin Flash, Sacramento City College
  • Tamara Armstrong, Los Rios Community College District
  • Dr. Yvonne Harris, California State University Sacramento
  • Trish Kelly, Valley Vision, Managing Director
  • Renee John, Valley Vision
  • Dr. David Espinoza, Valley Vision
  • Jesse Flores, Valley Vision

To keep up with Valley Vision’s work to advance a future-ready workforce in the Sacramento region, subscribe to our 21st Century Workforce email newsletter!”

Renee John is a Valley Vision Project Leader managing initiatives within the 21st Century Workforce impact area.

#Elevate Success at the EMERGE Summit

“Be vulnerable,” advised Metro EDGE’s 2019 Young Professional of the Year, Verna Sulpizio Hull. As the Welcoming Speaker for the 2020 Metro EDGE EMERGE Summit, Hull offered a much needed reminder for me and other Summit attendees to remain open to new things. After all, it was clear to everyone that this year’s EMERGE Summit was different: the world was in the middle of a pandemic, and so Northern California’s largest conference for emerging leaders had to go virtual. Nevertheless, with this year’s theme as #Elevate, that did not stop the Sacramento Metro Chamber Foundation’s Metro EDGE from organizing an impactful 2020 event for young leaders throughout the Sacramento region.

On the morning of September 17th, four of my Valley Vision colleagues and I tuned in to the EMERGE Summit, exchanging remarks via our group chat and excited to interact with the event’s virtual format. The day’s speakers and breakout sessions were to be presented through an event and conference app, which immediately allowed us to engage with emerging professionals via virtual networking and the event’s main page. As described by Valley Vision Project Associate Houa Vang, “I was skeptical at first because this was my first time attending a virtual conference, but was taken aback on the superb coordination and transitions between speakers, music during breaks, and breakout sessions.” Project Manager Grace Kaufman further said, “The sessions were thoughtfully designed, the eclectic array of speakers were inspiring, and the mix of local music in between sessions kept me glued to my screen and engaged for the entirety of the conference.” 

One of those engaging speakers was Unseen Heroes’ Roshaun Davis, a brand development professional whose steps to building community helped me see the importance of nurturing in my work. Followed by keynote speaker and multimedia journalist Marianna Sousa, the event continued to bring attention to equity and social healing, which I couldn’t help but see as very fitting with recent events. “Restoration before reputation” stated Sousa, as she went on to explain the importance of self-care and addressing trauma as young professionals. The year 2020 had brought a global pandemic, social unrest towards racial injustice, and many other stressful events that I saw deserved a critical eye on how we took care of ourselves and our communities.  

Tashina Brito, Chair of this year’s EMERGE Summit.

As the day unfolded, engaging speakers were interwoven with insightful breakout sessions on topics such as data challenges with Pantelis Loupos and design thinking with Samantha Contreras. My third breakout session was on moving racial justice forward with Jackie Cole and others from Fresno State, SACOG, and California Coalition for Rural Housing. I was glad to see that EMERGE Summit addressed the issue of racial justice head on with a session such as this, while having speakers who were committed to the issue. Overall, EMERGE’s 2020 breakout sessions covered a wide range of interesting and relevant topics. “Regardless of where you were on your career path or the particular field you were interested in, there was a session for you.”

In closing, the EMERGE Summit left my Valley Vision colleagues and I motivated to continue our work throughout the region. Our motivation was captured well by Tucker Bryant’s inspiring spoken word at the end of the Summit, “Dear 2020.” “This isn’t a quarantine; this is a hibernation,” was a hopeful verse that stuck with me as my colleagues and I continued to navigate our roles as emerging professionals in a rapidly changing world. As described by Project Associate Isa Avanceña, “The spoken word at the end of the Summit expressed so eloquently the emotional toll that this pandemic has taken. More importantly, it highlighted the resilience that our communities are demonstrating as we weather the storm. It was the perfect “mic drop” ending to an already incredible day.”

My colleagues and I were very fortunate to have had this experience and would like to express our gratitude to the Metro Chamber and its event sponsors for organizing an impactful virtual conference as an epicenter for young professionals to exchange ideas, learn from each other’s experiences, and be inspired to shape the future.

To keep up with Valley Vision’s work to advance livability in the Sacramento region, subscribe to our Vantage Point email newsletter!

Jesse Flores is a Valley Vision Project Associate supporting the 21st Century Workforce and Clean Economy Impact areas.

Capital Region’s Workforce Boards Provide COVID-19 Relief

The COVID‐19 pandemic has created a significant disruption to the labor force, wreaking havoc on both businesses and community members. The Capital Region’s Workforce Boards are specifically positioned to provide much‐needed assistance in times like these. Our collective goal is to support the overall economic health of the region by matching employer needs for local talent with resident needs for gainful employment and career mobility. During this current crisis and ongoing, we ensure workers are job ready and preparing for the future of work to help our communities recover and thrive.

Our local, federally‐funded workforce system has been providing services to both job seekers and employers for decades, and remains one of the best assets in the Capital Region. The four Workforce Development Boards ‐ the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA)/Sacramento Works, Golden Sierra Job Training Agency, Yolo County Workforce Development Board, and North Central Counties Consortium (NCCC), cover a nine‐county region and oversee a network of over 20 America’s Job Centers that connects over 68,000 job seekers annually with much needed employment and related resources.

These business‐led boards are a resource to local employers, providing assistance with job postings, customized recruitment events, applicant screening services, skills assessments, (virtual) career fairs, and resources that promote business success. Businesses also benefit by increasing the breadth and diversity of their talent pool. Job retention is improved by candidates receiving access to ongoing job coaching and supports that improve their success in the workplace. Additionally, job seekers and the underemployed receive access to demand‐driven, relevant skills training to regain employment in a growing field and improve their earnings potential.

The Centers are typically located in neighborhoods and areas with high concentrations of poverty and unemployment. The Centers offer no cost workforce development resources to everyone, with a focus on individuals with significant barriers to employment, such as basic skills deficient, disadvantaged youth, public assistance, homeless, ex‐offenders, etc. and the underemployed. Over 86% of individuals receiving services have significant barriers to employment, and a majority come from underrepresented minority groups.

The Capital Region’s Workforce Boards are committed to the region’s success as conveners, brokers, leaders and partners on many workforce development initiatives that strengthen our local economy. We partner with business, education, labor unions, economic development and community based organizations to align efforts, deepen impact, and improve quality of life in our region. To learn more about the Capital Region’s Workforce Boards, please go to:

Rick Wylie, President, Villara Corporation Chair, Sacramento Works, Inc., Board

Rick Larkey, Technical Director, North State Building Industry Foundation Chair, Golden Sierra Workforce Board

Kenneth Garrett, CEO, All Phase Security, Inc. Chair, Yolo Workforce Innovation Board

John Fleming, Director of Planning & Development, Ampla Health Chair, North Central Counties Workforce Board

Continuing Our Work Toward “Broadband for All”

As our region grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on daily life and the economy — now compounded by the ongoing wildfires — the digital divide continues to grow. The ability to do distance learning, telecommuting, and telehealth is critical, and it is becoming increasingly clear that there can be no real equity without ubiquitous broadband. State, regional, and local solutions must be pursued concurrently, in an “all hands on deck,” multi-pronged approach. 

State-level updates

On August 14, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-73-20, to address the broadband access, adoption, and training needs of Californians — all made more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic. The following are some of the Order’s major provisions: 

  1. The order directs the California Broadband Council (CBC) to create a new State Broadband Action Plan by December 31, 2020, incorporating a goal of 100 Mbps download speed for infrastructure investment. The Plan will include a roadmap to accelerate deployment and adoption of broadband by state agencies; support such deployment and adoption by local governments; and provide publicly accessible information on all federal and state funding opportunities. 
  2. The Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is directed to lead broadband data aggregation and mapping efforts, and to provide information on public and private broadband network infrastructure and the cost of deploying network components. This effort will be supported by the California State Transportation Agency and other relevant state agencies; local and tribal governments; and regional consortia, like the Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium (CCABC), managed by Valley Vision. 
  3. The California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) is directed to identify funding opportunities to support broadband, equipment, and digital literacy, in collaboration with all cabinet-level agencies, independent departments, and independent constitutional officers. 

In addition to these major provisions, the Order directs other state agencies to address the need for deployment and adoption by activating policies and leveraging resources — with particular emphasis on connecting residents with affordable internet service offerings, and ensuring that students have the connectivity and devices necessary for distance learning. 

On August 26, the CBC held a special session focused on the planning and implementation of the Governor’s Executive Order. CBC members and a wide range of broadband stakeholders attended the virtual meeting and provided input. The session generated the following proposed approach: 

  1. Developing an outline; 
  2. Articulating a vision;
  3. Compiling a fact base; 
  4. Developing a timing and cost model; 
  5. Mapping out funding and actions for 2021; 
  6. Conducting research on adoption gaps; and 
  7. Facilitating stakeholder sessions with local governments and the private sector. 

The regional broadband consortia, including the CCABC, will continue to actively support these efforts. 

Valley Vision has been working with the office of Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (Winters), the California Emerging Technology Fund, and a statewide network of more than 40 partners to support AB 570 – the Internet for All Act of 2020. AB 570 prioritizes the deployment of broadband infrastructure in the state’s most vulnerable, unserved, and underserved rural and urban communities. It extends the collection of funds for the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), to provide grants to bridge the Digital Divide. While the next stage of the legislative process is yet to be determined, the bill has helped make the case to the Legislature and Governor’s Office for increasing funding, to meet the needs that California is facing now and into the future. 

County-level efforts

As manager of the CCABC, Valley Vision hosted a webinar on August 11 on “Community Broadband in Yolo County,” in partnership with the Woodland Technology Alliance. The webinar was a conversation about the current state of the county’s technical infrastructure, as well as solutions to address the community’s broadband gaps. The webinar was a starting point for further exploring innovative strategies, and panelists represented several sectors of the region, including the local government, school district, and state government. A full recording can be found here, and a summary of the discussion can be found here. Valley Vision continues to work with Yolo and other counties to bring these issues to the forefront, and convene partners, stakeholders, and community members to build consensus and take next steps. 

Ground truth testing with CalSPEED

Valley Vision is working with local partners and communities from our region to demonstrate the need for better internet service in the region. Community members are encouraged to download the CPUC’s CalSPEED app, which securely tests residential and mobile broadband speeds. Results from the speed test crowdsource a statewide coverage map to inform infrastructure investments. A flyer containing information on the CalSPEED test can be found here

Additionally, the CPUC, in partnership with CSU, Chico and CSU, Monterey Bay are looking for volunteers to take part in the CalSPEED Home Broadband Study — a statewide effort to collect quality measurements utilizing the new CalSPEED Home Measurement Device. 

Please share this information with your partners, stakeholders, and networks. 

Low-cost internet service programs

In response to the increased need for distance learning, telecommuting, and telehealth capacity, several Internet Service Providers have begun offering low-cost internet service to families for qualifying low-income households. More information can be found here and here. Please share this information with your partners, stakeholders, and networks, to make sure that all community members are made aware of this option.

This blog focuses on just some of the updates at the state, county, and local level. To continue staying up to date with all of the region’s broadband efforts, subscribe to Valley Vision’s e-Connect email newsletter!

Trish Kelly is Valley Vision’s Managing Director, leading its food, agriculture, workforce, and broadband initiatives.

David Espinoza is a Valley Vision Project Leader managing broadband projects and other initiatives in the Innovation & Infrastructure impact area.

Isa Avanceña is a Valley Vision Project Associate supporting the Board of Directors, and the Innovation & Infrastructure and Leadership and Civic Engagement Impact areas.

Innovative Partnership Will Build a Roadmap to a Resilient Workforce

Thanks to funding committed by the City of Sacramento CARES Act program, Valley Vision is excited to announce a new partnership with Burning Glass Technologies to support upskilling, digital skills, and re-employment in the City of Sacramento, targeted at those impacted by COVID-19.

Even before COVID-19 struck, we knew a third of the jobs in the Sacramento region were at high risk of automation and digital skills are key to social mobility. COVID-19 is accelerating those trends and increasing the pace and intensity of economic disparities – especially for vulnerable populations, including people of color and women. A key challenge has been to create an actionable roadmap to understand where the opportunities are to move low wage/high risk jobs to more resilient, higher wage jobs that create social mobility. Additionally, while we understand digital skills are needed, we don’t have a clear or comprehensive enough picture of what digital skills are needed for high growth jobs and where people can go to gain those skills.

Together, Valley Vision and Burning Glass Technologies will create actionable research assets to connect these dots. The three key focus points for our rapid response research assets include: (1) a report that translates high risk/high unemployment occupations with skills-adjacent occupations that are lower-risk, stable, or growing in demand; (2) an identification of current and emerging digital skills needs by industry and target occupations to inform short-term training and reskilling opportunities for rapid re-employment; and (3) implementation strategies to inform re-employment and reskilling strategies to address job loss, especially for those in underinvested neighborhoods and those most intensely impacted by COVID-19. 

Matt Siegelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies is also excited about the research investment and the partnership, “To ensure that workers in the Sacramento region can position themselves for the high mobility opportunities that are on the way, it’s crucial to have an accurate assessment of how automation will impact work and what new digital skills will be in demand. We are excited to partner with Valley Vision in developing a clear and actionable basis for empowering the workforce of this highly dynamic region.” 

Burning Glass Technologies, located in Boston, is an analytics software company powered by the world’s largest and most sophisticated database of labor market data and talent. It tracks 3.4 million job listings daily, across more than 50,000 job boards and corporate sites – using the power of big data to capture market activity with enough specificity to enable companies to take a data-driven approach to workforce planning, and enable education and governments to better align their programs with the job market. Burning Glass was recently touted in Forbes as one of the “preeminent data analytics firms worldwide in the employment field.” 

The Capital region needs to move rapidly to address the twin workforce challenges: the unfolding crisis of COVID-19, and the accelerating pace of technology disruption and skill automation. The new partnership with Burning Glass deepens Valley Vision’s work in this vital impact area and will position the City of Sacramento, employers, educational institutions, and workforce systems to rapidly and accurately respond to these dual challenges.

To keep up with Valley Vision’s work to advance a future-ready workforce in the Sacramento region, subscribe to our 21st Century Workforce email newsletter!”

Evan Schmidt is Valley Vision’s Chief Executive Officer.

New Greater Sacramento Region Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Approved by U.S. Economic Development Administration

Valley Vision is extremely pleased to report that the Economic Development Administration (EDA), U.S. Dept. of Commerce, has officially approved the Greater Sacramento Region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), known as the Prosperity Strategy. It will be current for five years and provides eligibility for EDA funding for its many programs supporting regional economic resiliency, innovation and recovery, across the six-county region.

The CEDS is the culmination of two years of intensive collaborative research and strategic planning led by a partnership of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), and Valley Vision, with funding support from EDA.  Building upon a call to action from an assessment of the regional economy by the Brookings Institution in 2018, the CEDS contains six core strategies and related initiatives, within a framework of inclusive economic development to drive equitable and sustainable prosperity. The CEDS also follows upon the foundation built by the previous CEDS, Next Economy.

We’re grateful to the more than 400 community leaders and representatives across the region who contributed their valuable ideas, expertise and guidance throughout the process, including members of the CEDS Steering Committee. The CEDS is a living document, meant to be updated to reflect current economic conditions, to guide investments toward impactful and meaningful outcomes, and to track progress toward key initiatives and goals. Given the realities of COVID-19, the partners have created a short term “Bridge to Action” for inclusive economic recovery and growth – The Path Forward.

The partners along with the Sacramento Asian-Pacific Chamber of Commerce are committed to advancing the wellbeing of the region through collaborative and shared implementation of the CEDS. EDA will continue to be a valued partner in this process. EDA’s approval letter stated: “We commend your organization and your regional partners for this excellent effort, and we look forward to working with you as you continue to address the economic development planning and implementation needs of the region.” Please click here for the full CEDS and the Path Forward, and contact Valley Vision if you need information on EDA applications and/or letters of support. We welcome your participation and input, so please be in touch as we all work together for the future of our region.

Trish Kelly is Valley Vision’s Managing Director, leading its food, agriculture, workforce, and broadband initiatives.

A Crash Course in Community-Building

I moved to Sacramento in 2012 with every intention of building a career for myself that focused on helping people. As a Filipina-American I initially thought that my service would be through nursing, but my love of science couldn’t change my disposition in hospitals. I had a limited perspective of what service for my community meant, but Sacramento State taught me the importance of mentorship; Food Literacy Center exposed me to community development and Sacramento’s strong nonprofit system; and Valley Vision gave me the background and foresight to envision a better community across all systems.

Valley Vision has broadened my perspective and taught me that helping people takes more than single-handed transactional services. It requires collaboration, patience, and trust – all easily stated, but not so easily achieved. Yet this small, but mighty team takes on that task wholeheartedly! Valley Vision brings together workforce, education, employers and partners to align workforce initiatives; guide digital inclusion and broadband initiatives to connect our communities; and lift the voices of people throughout our region by advancing public opinion polling data. My experience at Valley Vision was a crash course in the expansive and unique systems that make up our community, exposing me to incredible organizations and populations that make Sacramento home to so many. Content expertise alone though is not enough to ensure collaboration or trust among these entities. In turn, Valley Vision is filled with devoted, adaptive, and compassionate individuals. 

I am forever grateful to have learned from and worked alongside this team. It has been an honor working on our workforce and broadband initiatives and my experience at Valley Vision has helped guide my path towards education. I am looking forward to advocating for digital inclusion in a new capacity as a teaching assistant, and later teacher, integrating what I have learned from Valley Vision’s future of work and regional digital skills initiatives into the classroom. 

Yzabelle Dela Cruz was a Valley Vision Project Associate supporting the 21st Century Workforce, Innovation & Infrastructure, and Food & Agriculture impact areas.