Skip to Content

A Dose of (Climate) Reality

A blast of 109-degree air hit me as I exited the absurdly air conditioned Planet Hollywood casino on the Las Vegas Strip. It was June 10th, 2022, and Southern Nevada was having its hottest day of the year (thus far).

Ironically, I was there to learn, collaborate, and connect as part of the 2022 cohort of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps. So much for glitz, glamour, and excess – things were getting very real in the Nevada desert.

The Climate Reality Project is the organization founded by former Vice President Al Gore using proceeds from the unexpected success of 2006’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ film and accompanying book. Today, the organization is an international nonprofit on the leading edge of education and advocacy related to climate change, and the Leadership Corps program is intended to build the capacity of climate leaders and their networks for action.

Former Vice President Al Gore addressing the 500-person cohort.

Mr. Gore continues to anchor the organization in many ways, but over the course of two-and-a-half days we were able to get to know Climate Reality’s talented and diverse staff, as well as activists, scientists, and skilled communicators from across the Americas, including dozens of Indigenous leaders on the frontlines of climate action in their communities (with an emphasis on the American Southwest). I was particularly excited to connect with William J. Barber III, Climate Reality’s Director of Climate and Environmental Justice and the son of William Barber II, a well-known preacher and co-chair of the national Poor People’s Campaign, as well as Dr. Elena Krieger, Director of Research with PSE Energy (Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy) and a partner in community air protection projects in California.

There is strong connectivity with the work that Valley Vision has been doing for years to advocate for clean air policies, advance neighborhood-based air monitoring and emissions reduction efforts, and to support innovative projects like the California Mobility Center.

That being said, I was participating primarily as a member of the Global Shapers – Sacramento Hub, a local group affiliated with the World Economic Forum’s international network of over 14,000 young leaders across 448 city-based Hubs in 146 countries. The Sacramento Shapers have been working with Climate Reality locally on a water conservation project, conducting door-to-door outreach, distributing resources, and providing micro-grants to artists working on water conservation-related projects.

Our table getting to know one another.

Leadership Corps participants were treated to a full-length, up-to-date version of the famous ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ PowerPoint presentation on the first day of the training, as well as a shortened 10-minute version, both delivered by Mr. Gore. We also learned how best to communicate about climate change, and reflected on our own personal brand of climate activism taking into account our unique skills and backgrounds. We developed and practiced hands-on skills, and were presented with powerful information about the latest climate science, best practices, and technological advancements needed to support a global transition away from greenhouse gas use.

The training made very clear the linkage between the global climate crisis and the environmental racism faced by the communities of color most impacted by climate change. People of color in the US are exposed to up to 63% more pollution than they produce – while white people are exposed to 17% less. Fossil fuel air pollution contributed to nearly one in five premature deaths in 2018. Sometimes the climate crisis can feel nebulous to those who don’t reside in frontline communities, and this relationship is incredibly important to make evident when doing this work.

Matthew, Luis, Adrian, and Erick from the Global Shapers – Sacramento Hub.

Across the world-class speakers and hands-on trainings, there were several direct quotes that really resonated with me:

  • Shabd Singh: “How do you build people power? The answer is simple – one conversation at a time.”
  • Van Jones (not present): “The green economy should not just be about reclaiming throw-away stuff. It should be about reclaiming thrown-away communities.”
  • Alexa Aispuro Loaiza: “White allies can support communities of concern in the following way – lead by following.”
  • Tim Guinee: “Action is the antidote to despair about the climate crisis.”

All that being said – hope is critical if there is to be progress. Despair is just another form of denial. And if we truly care about our planet and its people, we will build the relationships, educate our communities, and advocate for solutions that benefit those most impacted. I’ll end this blog the same way that Mr. Gore closed the two-and-a-half-day training: “Political will is a sustainable resource.” Let’s do this!

Note: Masks were required at all times except during meals and while taking photos, as a COVID-19 precaution. Photos used as part of this blog do not reflect the in-person experience.

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


Adrian Rehn is a Valley Vision Project Leader overseeing the Cleaner Air Partnership, Sacramento Neighborhoods Activating on Air Quality, and Valley Vision’s flagship ‘Vantage Point’ email newsletter.

Forestry Management Careers: A Critical Need

On April 28, Valley Vision hosted a virtual Forestry Management Regional Advisory to bring stakeholders and industry partners together to discuss the field’s current state, future projections, and areas of growth. Critical land management challenges such as wildfires, droughts, and the impact of invasive species contribute to the high demand for forestry management job applicants. However, labor market data and research detail a prominent gap between this need and the availability of candidates in the field. 

This event featured labor market projections from Melissa Kovacs, Senior Project Analyst at the Center of Economic Development, CSU Chico, and Ebony Benzing, Research Manager at the North/Far North Centers of Excellence, and an industry panel that included:

  • Ann Anderson, Beale Mountain Forestry, Owner & Forester
  • Jeremy Dorsey, U.S. Forest Service, Hume Lake Ranger District & Sequoia National Forest, District Ranger
  • John McCarthy,  CAL FIRE, Forester & Wood Products/Bioenergy Program Administrator
  • Tony Ortiz, Mountain Enterprises, Field Safety Specialist
  • Craig Ostergaard, Sierra Pacific Industries, South Sierra Reforestation Manager

At the beginning of the event, Kovacs presented findings from the 2021 Forest Sector Workforce Needs Survey created in partnership with the Statewide Wildfire and Forest Resiliency Task Force. This survey yielded 113 responses from forestry management employers across the state and sought to identify key challenges and needs within the industry. The research revealed a sizable gap in the forestry industry’s workforce with the majority of respondents indicating their organization is currently hiring for 1-5 open positions with the majority looking to hire either immediately or within the next 12 months. Another important result was the indication of three major obstacles to filling these positions; high cost of living (45.59%), a small pool of candidates in the area (24.56%), and lack of available housing (12.81%). 

Benzing provided regional labor market information, demonstrating forestry management jobs are expected to grow by an average of 6% by 2025 in the Greater Sacramento region. The strongest occupational demand is in professional positions which include environmental scientists, soil & plant scientists, and foresters. Management positions are projected to have the highest percentage growth, with the second-largest increase slated to come from specialty positions (fallers, log graders/scalers, surveyors, tree trimmers, and mapping technicians).

Panelists encouraged students and educators to push for early exposure to forestry management careers and real-world, hands-on experience. Paid internships are a valuable way for prospective applicants to gain an understanding of the demands and nature of these jobs.  Although these positions are generally during the summer months, panelists indicated winter is the best time to begin the internship and job search process.  Anderson of Beale Mountain Forestry mentioned job shadowing as an alternative to internships, as they are a quicker, less-demanding method to show the daily responsibilities and expectations of someone who works in the industry.

Panelists agreed that interpersonal skills are of great importance and demand in the forest industry. Communication, time management, organization, and teamwork are integral skills across all occupations creating an opportunity for forestry management education programs to focus on expanding soft skill development. In addition to strengthening these necessary skills, Steven Casperite, Assistant Principal at the Placer School for Adults, discussed a pilot program developed in partnership with Mountain Enterprises to expand the talent pipeline by offering contextualized English Language education concurrent with on-the-job forestry management training to serve immigrants and refugees. Casperite also commented that the opportunity to extend training opportunities to incarcerated individuals prior to release can also funnel more candidates into the industry. As Casperite said, “There are a lot of opportunities and employees out there that we can be putting to work—that want to work—but we’ve got to remove the barriers.” 

Valley Vision’s employer and industry advisories are funded by Los Rios Community College District with Strong Workforce Program funds. Additionally, the Capital Region’s four workforce boards co-sponsor the advisories; SETA/Sacramento Works, Golden Sierra JTA, YoloWorks, and North Central Counties Consortium.

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!


Danielle Susa is a Valley Vision Project Associate supporting initiatives within the 21st Century Workforce impact area.

Renee John is the Director of Workforce Development managing initiatives within the 21st Century Workforce impact area.

Cap-to-Cap Returns to D.C. – A First-Timer’s Experience

After over two years of a mostly virtual work environment, I didn’t quite know what to expect from the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s annual week-long Cap-to-Cap program. Not only would it be my first Cap-to-Cap experience, it would also be one of the first few times since March 2020 that I would be interacting with folks face-to-face, instead of Zoom square-to-Zoom square. In conversations with “veterans” (those who’ve attended prior Cap-to-Cap trips), I gathered that it was going to be a whirlwind week of events, meetings, and huddles — with few chances to catch a breath, and many opportunities to connect with regional and federal leaders.

To be sure, our region’s annual delegation to D.C. is a force – The Chamber’s Cap-to-Cap program has been happening nearly every year since 1970, representing the largest and longest-standing delegation of its kind. In that time, Cap-to-Cap has driven steady and consistent advocacy, ushering significant advances for business and community development, an inclusive economy, and a vibrant, healthy and connected region.

This year, Valley Vision staff played an active leadership role in Cap-to-Cap’s policy advancement. We Co-Chaired or served as Issue Experts on the Air Quality, Economic Development, and Food and Agriculture teams, and participated in the Workforce and Education team. On each team, we shaped policy papers and communicated critical regional issues to federal agencies and our elected officials, as well as continued building a network of relationships with federal legislative and agency representatives that continues throughout the year and brings added benefit to the region.

It was an honor to be able to champion our region side by side with local elected officials and jurisdictions, foundations and nonprofits, utilities, healthcare providers, industry representatives, among many others. And the running joke — that of course we all had to fly clear across the country to meet people from our own region — certainly has some truth to it. Because being in our nation’s capital, against the backdrop of Capitol Hill and the national monuments, with the common goal of elevating the needs and priorities of our region, brings us all together in an exceptionally meaningful way and gives us the opportunity to connect with folks who we don’t regularly cross paths with back home. 

The Cap-to-Cap Air Quality team meeting with Senator Feinstein’s staff on Future Mobility and Wildfire Resilience issues.

I’m especially grateful to have participated in the Cap-to-Cap program at such an important time for our region. New, unprecedented investments in regional economic recovery — financial commitments to infrastructure, economic, environmental, and community resilience through both state and federal government channels — present our region with the opportunity to rebuild and grow sustainably, with a commitment to community and equity at the center of it. These include the Community Economic Resilience Fund (“CERF”), a one-time use of State general funds that will distribute $600 million to regions across California to support inclusive and low carbon economic development; a $6 billion investment in California’s broadband infrastructure and enhancing internet access for unserved and underserved communities; and billions in American Rescue Plan Act funds distributed through the Economic Development Administration for advancing high-growth sector and workforce priorities, just to name a few. We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us, to ensure that our region makes the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity. 

Championing our region to elevate its challenges and successes, breaking bread with regional change-makers, making my way around Capitol Hill — my first Cap-to-Cap experience was one for the books, and I’m already looking forward to the next one!

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


Isa Avanceña is Valley Vision’s Manager of Research and Policy.

Leading with Compassion: The Future of Hospitality Careers

On April 22, Valley Vision hosted a virtual regional advisory centered on the adaptations of the Hospitality, Culinary, and Tourism industry through the pandemic. While the sector continues to represent employment below pre-pandemic employment levels, the Greater Sacramento region has recovered 40% of jobs originally lost in this sector.  Nationally, wages have increased by almost $3.00 per hour to an average of $19.68.

The event featured keynote speaker Marc Sapoznik, President and CEO of Rancho Cordova Travel & Tourism, labor market information from Aaron Wilcher, Research Director of the Center of Excellence, and an industry panel including:  

  • Shelly Moranville, General Manager, Residence Inn, Marriott
  • Jonathan Modrow, Owner, Bottle & Barlow
  • Brittany Claypool, Brand Strategist, Oak Park Brewing 
  • Andrew Moret, Director of Culinary, Oakmont Management Group
  • Marc Sapoznik, President and CEO, Rancho Cordova Travel & Tourism

During the event, panelists described changes and innovations within their companies including moving to fast-casual service with to-go options, producing canned beverages, advancing the adoption of technology, partnering to recruit for talent shortages, and turning a portion of their establishment into community rental space.  As Shelly Moranville from Residence Inn, Marriott put it, “We’ve changed the way we do everything.”

“We’ve changed the way we do everything.”

Shelly Moranville

The labor market information presented highlighted a need to fill management positions including General and Operations Managers, Food Service Managers, Personal Service Managers, Entertainment and Recreation Managers, Chefs, and Head Cooks.  These positions also offer the highest earnings potential within the industry.  The panel agreed on the need for training for management positions highlighting the burnout of their leadership teams from the toll of the pandemic. 

Several panelists acknowledged investing more in their current workforce than in the past, including establishing “paths to success” for entry-level employees to gain the skills and experience necessary to prepare them for higher roles.  Andrew Moret of Oakmont Management Group discussed their Executive Chef Training Program in development as an example of this upward mobility framework. The panel agreed that learning the career goals of individual team members and helping them achieve them was a best practice.  This was just one example of a change to a more employee-centered culture including increased flexibility and accommodation of individual employee needs and schedules.  Employers reported altering the availability requirements for existing workers and incoming hires to improve employee retention.  As Ms. Moranville stated, “[We] have to be much more flexible to the needs of the associates, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. As employers, [the pandemic] has forced us to shift and be more understanding of what’s going on in someone’s life.”

The panel agreed the need for high-quality soft skills or essential skills was desperately needed in employment candidates including communication, teamwork, leadership/initiative, cultural and self-awareness, and creativity/adaptability.  Jonathan Modrow of Bottle & Barlow stressed the need for an “instinct for care and collaboration”.   Mr. Moret closed us with critical words for today’s culture stating the need to lead with “compassion for guests, each other, and yourself” is greatly needed in today’s hospitality workforce.

Valley Vision’s employer and industry advisories are funded by Los Rios Community College District with Strong Workforce Program funds. Additionally, the Capital Region’s four workforce boards co-sponsor the advisories; SETA/Sacramento Works, Golden Sierra JTA, YoloWorks, and North Central Counties Consortium.

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!


Danielle Susa is a Valley Vision Project Associate supporting initiatives within the 21st Century Workforce impact area.

Renee John is the Director of Workforce Development managing initiatives within the 21st Century Workforce impact area.

Our Core Values in Action

With our mission of creating livable communities by advancing social equity, environmental sustainability, and economic prosperity for the region, Valley Vision has been a constant and steady presence in the area for 28 years.

Our work has always been values-centered, although we haven’t always clearly expressed those values for ourselves or others. Over the past several months, our staff and Board took an exercised approach to tease out the fundamental ideals that drive our work and articulate who we are. We are proud to share:

  • STEWARDSHIP: We exist to serve our communities to advance social equity, environmental sustainability, and economic prosperity.
  • COLLABORATION: We value building genuine connections that honor our communities and partners.
  • COURAGE: We are willing to do hard things.
  • PASSION: We are energized by our work and our communities.

Values are only words on paper without commitments and practices that support them. The following depicts our intentions to live out these values.

The values that we hold provide a foundation for the work we do and the way we do it. When we are supporting healthy food systems, developing equitable workforce pathways, or launching a new regional initiative for equitable and low carbon economic growth – these values should shine through. Our goal is to ensure that our values are apparent to all who work with us in the ways we engage and activate our work. We welcome your dialogue and feedback.

What are the values that anchor and guide you? Let’s support each other in activating values-driven leadership to foster equitable, sustainable, and prosperous 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.

Highlighting Training Needs in Cybersecurity

Valley Vision serves a unique role as the workforce intermediary in the Capital Region’s training and development ecosystem. In this role, we work closely with the community colleges, workforce boards, community-based organizations, employers, industry partners, and local jurisdictions to improve our region’s responsiveness to the needs of both industry and the community. To that end, Valley Vision produces employer and industry advisories in occupational areas of growth and interest to inform education and training partners to address and respond to these needs to support our overall economy.

On March 31st, Valley Vision hosted an advisory on the growing demand for Cybersecurity occupations. The advisory included a keynote presentation by Nathaniel Le of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and labor market information including job posting and skills analysis by Ebony Benzing, Research Manager of the Center of Excellence, as well as an industry panel discussion with the following representatives:

  • Tania Webb, Managing Director of Deloitte
  • Benjamin Troglia, Associate Director of Accenture
  • Andrew Maroun, Director of Information Security of Golden 1 Credit Union
  • David Bitter, Cybersecurity Manager of SMUD

During the advisory, panelists described a need for both generalists and specialists to meet their staffing needs. While specific technical skills are needed, the highest demand traits these employers revealed were a passion for the work and interpersonal skills, including written and verbal communication, to work well within teams and with external customers. Webb indicated understanding the “why” of the services employees are providing is essential and pre-eminent to thinking through how the technology solution helps meet that need, while Bitter indicated applicants who demonstrate an interest in the field beyond classwork, through clubs or competitions, are highly valued. Additionally, he noted the challenge for educators to keep up with the training needs of the industry due to technology evolving exponentially. He indicated and other panelists agreed, that there is more tendency to recruit generalists who can learn specialties on the job. “I don’t think it’s realistic to expect these students coming out of educational institutions to have that (specific) knowledge,” Bitter said.

While panelists indicated recruiting individuals with a Bachelor’s Degree (or higher) was common, most stated they are open to candidates who can demonstrate the experience, skills, and knowledge without a degree.

Panelists were asked about specific technical skills, degrees, and certifications to obtain entry-level employment in the field. While panelists indicated recruiting individuals with a Bachelor’s Degree (or higher) was common, most stated they are open to candidates who can demonstrate the experience, skills, and knowledge without a degree. Certifications were indicated as one way to differentiate while seeking employment, although practical real-world experience had as high or higher of a value. Specific certifications in demand include SAMs, CISP, and CompTIA Security+, which can elevate one candidate over another and demonstrate the candidate’s initiative to continue learning in their field. Specific technical skills in demand included Linux, Python, and Network Security.

When asked what advice would the panelists give to individuals trying to break into the Cyber Security field, networking, getting as much practical experience as possible, and staying up on the latest news in the security field were indicated as key. Maroun noted a particular challenge is the lack of diverse candidates entering the field which among other challenges limits the group’s creativity diverse backgrounds bring in developing solutions.

Join us for two additional upcoming advisories on the changing needs of Hospitality, Culinary, and Tourism on April 22nd and the expanding needs for Forestry Management Occupations on April 28th. Valley Vision’s full resource industry of advisories is available here.

Valley Vision’s employer and industry advisories are funded by Los Rios Community College District with Strong Workforce Program funds. Additionally, the Capital Region’s four workforce boards co-sponsor the advisories; SETA/Sacramento Works, Golden Sierra JTA, YoloWorks, and North Central Counties Consortium.

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!


Nghia Nguyen is a Valley Vision Project Associate supporting initiatives within the 21st Century Workforce impact area.

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

Digital Inclusion Coalition Expands with New Platform

The last two years have proven the significance of digital inclusion to accessing opportunity and economic prosperity. Our nation is experiencing unprecedented investment, including the Affordable Connectivity Program through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – a $14.2 billion piece of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs act, and the biggest investment in broadband this country has ever seen. The Greater Sacramento region is well poised to garner and maximize investments in digital inclusion due in no small part to the dedicated contributions of the steering committee, working groups, and members of the Sacramento Coalition for Digital Inclusion (Coalition).

This effort started in the fall of 2018, inspired by a Brookings Institution report on the strengths and weaknesses of the Sacramento Capital region, and culminated in the formation of the Coalition.  Over the years, the work of the Coalition has brought together partnerships, thought leaders, and collaborative investment to address the digital inclusion needs of our region especially during the heightened needs of the pandemic.

A Year of Impact

In the last year, the Coalition has hosted eight full Coalition meetings and over 25 working group meetings in three key areas; Broadband Access & Adoption, Hardware Devices, and Digital Literacy/Digital Skills to build a framework and key strategies including:

  • Renaming, redesigning and taking over management of the Coalition website to provide easy access to resources and information
  • Operationalizing a digital inclusion portal to provide easy access to free resources for community members and the organizations supporting them

New Name & Expanded Region

The Coalition recently changed its name to the Capital Region Coalition for Digital Inclusion, reflecting an expanded service area and regional approach to creating more opportunities for digital equity.  This name change represents the expansion to serve a 9 county region supported by investment from the Capital Region’s four workforce boards, SMUD, AT & T and Union Bank, and magnifies opportunities to address both rural and urban digital equity barriers, and convene organizations from across the region to better inform, connect, and partner to promote community success.

New Digital Inclusion Portal Serving Nine Counties

Valley Vision is pleased to partner with mohuman, a non-profit connecting low-income communities with digital resources, to create the Capital Region Digital Inclusion Portal. Through this partnership, a streamlined platform has been created for the Capital Region, allowing community members and those serving them to easily search for resources – including free and low cost computers, internet services, digital skill building tools and training. Among other resources, the Digital Inclusion Portal connects individuals with training on Microsoft Office and Google Suite, as well as career search skills and more! The platform also allows organizations with digital inclusion resources to add their information to the Portal (after a review process) and claim their listings to provide additional description and detail. 

Nishal Mohan, Founder of mohuman, describes the work of the Coalition and the impact of the Portal: “The Capital Region and their digital inclusion coalition have been doing a fantastic job of regional coordination to serve digitally un and underserved individuals and families. Now with a personalized and easy to use portal, all of their free or low-cost digital inclusion services and resources are available to the public in an easy to use, accessible, expandable, and sustainable platform so that more people can move towards equity faster, more effectively, and at scale. Congratulations to Valley Vision and partners on bringing a powerful tool with the people for the people of the Capital Region!”

The Coalition’s goal is for the Portal to serve as a centralized source for community members and organizations to find and upload resources for computing devices, internet connectivity, and digital skill building. We need your assistance to create an expansive and thorough network of listings and are calling digital inclusion advocates to aid us in the following ways:

  1. Share the portal with community members and organizations to utilize for easy access to digital resources
  2. Add listings through the portal or email nghia.nguyen@valleyvision.org with information on digital inclusion organizations, programs, or online services that need to be included
  3. If you work at or manage an organization that provides digital inclusion resources, claim your listing, and make it your own!

With your help and assistance, we will continue the momentum to improve digital inclusion for our Capital Region’s current and future digital citizens. 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!


Caitlin Blockus is a Valley Vision Project Manager supporting initiatives within the 21st Century Workforce impact area.

Yolo County’s YoloWorks! Launches Virtual Employment Center

Job attainment and security are more important than ever, but unpredictable COVID-19 regulations and a turbulent economy have proved it difficult for applicants to access the employment specialists and career services they need. Prior to the pandemic, YoloWorks!, under the Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency, was able to offer in-person career center support and counseling to Yolo County residents from its local offices. However, without a uniform method of providing real-time employment support virtually, the employment center needed to pivot to maintain the full extent of its workforce services.

To address this challenge, YoloWorks! Program Coordinator Erica Johnson developed and aided in the launch of the employment center’s first virtual career center platform. The Virtual Employment Center went live on November 16, enabling Yolo County residents to virtually receive career and vocational training services from employment specialists and case managers.

Making Career Help Available & Accessible

Open 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Monday through Friday, the Virtual Employment Center (VEC) opens up a myriad of new connections between job seekers and employers. Offering these essential services virtually eliminates a multitude of barriers for new entries to the workforce, including maintaining personal health, reducing travel costs, and more. Training opportunities and the location of available jobs are just two examples of the many services offered by the VEC.

“This is exactly the type of support we want to provide the people of Yolo County.”

Erica Johnson, Yoloworks! Program Coordinator

“Supporting the needs of job seekers with our intelligent chatbot has revolutionized how citizens discover jobs in Yolo County,” said Erica Johnson, YoloWorks! Program Coordinator. “Job seekers can now schedule time with YoloWorks! employment specialists to locate relevant work anytime, anywhere, and have common questions answered quickly in their native language. This is exactly the type of support we want to provide the people of Yolo County.”

Digital Inclusion and the Community

The VEC is a platform that requires internet connectivity to fully utilize. Thus, this calls for adequate infrastructure in the community it serves. YoloWorks! has partnered with Google to provide the “Loan to Own” Chromebook Program for those who might not have access to the devices they need to be successful in this era of virtual integration. Successful completion of this program allows participants to permanently keep their Chromebooks, providing them with a computing device and the ability to earn a work-skills online certificate with digital badging. As of December of 2021, 180 of 250 Chromebooks have been distributed to Yolo County residents. 35 Yolo County residents have completed the program and now own these devices. And to ensure that the platform is accessible to as many communities as possible, Yolo County job seekers can utilize the portal’s chatbox in the region’s three most common languages—English, Spanish and Russian.

This partnership has also granted Yolo County’s YoloWorks! with 500 Google Career Certificates, which are available to Yolo County residents to apply for and receive for free. These certificates include credentials in areas like IT, Project Management, User Experience Design, and Data Analytics. They also provide interested participants with valuable skills such as interviewing tips and connections to 140+ companies that are a part of an employer consortium consisting of nationally-recognized organizations who are hiring for entry-level talent.

From Tragedy Comes Opportunity

With the rise of online outreach and virtual events comes a unique need for collaboration between employers and communities. The VEC constantly works with community partners to ensure that job opportunities are being announced with ample time for applicants to gain access to workstations or smartphones. Additionally, the portal itself promotes ease of access by giving patrons the ability to attach necessary documents (resumes, applications, etc.) and syncing with the account’s Google Calendar. From supplying required technology to providing a user-friendly interface, the VEC is already making waves in terms of reaching the people who would benefit the most from its services.

“The pandemic really shifted the way in which we think, work, and live,” Johnson said. “We wanted to put a service out there for folks that is always available, whether or not they want to come in person.”

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!


Danielle Susa is a Valley Vision Project Associate supporting initiatives within the 21st Century Workforce impact area.

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

Our Bright Future in 2022: Best Case Scenarios for the Sacramento Region

Valley Vision has a longstanding making “bold predictions for the new year.” This is my second new year as CEO in which I’ve held this responsibility and, I have to say, these years have not been at all predictable! 2021 did not go as anyone predicted, and 2022 has already gone sideways. So, what do I think we can expect for 2022? The unexpected – what else? Instead of dwelling on the uncertainties that we are all living with everyday, I’d like to envision our brightest future and best case scenarios for the Sacramento region in 2022. What can we achieve, even in the face of uncertain times?

Major Economic Recovery Dollars Invested in the Capital Region 

State and federal government recovery and infrastructure programs are paving the way for historic investments in economic recovery, workforce, broadband, transportation, climate resilience, and more. With so many competitive grant processes, our region has the opportunity to advance major big picture initiatives and win the dollars to fund them. Our best case scenario: we rise to the challenge as a region and bring in transformative change ushering in equitable recovery for our region. Learn more about and get involved in Valley Vision’s effort to secure Community Economic Resilience Funds for our region as a start.

The Capital Region is a National Leader in Low Carbon Economy and Climate Resilience 

Our region has some of the most ambitious emission reduction goals in the nation and the ingredients to make meaningful progress to foster clean innovation in advanced mobility, clean energy, electrification, and climate smart agriculture and overall climate adaptation. In our best case scenario, we advance ambitious and cohesive regional plans and initiatives that make our region more climate resilient and grow our innovative and vibrant clean economy. Check out economic goals identified in the Prosperity Strategy, SMUD’s ambitious 2030 Plan, the California Mobility Center, and SACOG’s Green Means Go initiative for a few examples of our regional commitment to a clean economy.

Sacramento Community Rallies to Address Homelessness 

Our unhoused population has increased throughout the pandemic and divisions of how to address housing and homelessness have overtaken our ability to advance reasonable solutions. In our best case scenario: Public agencies, elected officials, civic organizations, service providers, advocates, and residents work together to implement new programming, effectively site new facilities, and meaningfully reduce the number of people who are living unhoused and on the streets. Learn more about the City of Sacramento’s Response Plan.

The Sacramento Region Closes the Digital Divide 

There are significant dollars available this year to support the expansion of broadband infrastructure and digital inclusion, resulting in increased access to the Internet and opportunities to improve digital equity in communities throughout the region. In our best case scenario: we are able to capture those dollars; build our broadband infrastructure and address technology access; and create digital literacy and skills training for all who need it (in our best case scenario we win funding to support digital skills training through the Good Jobs Challenge). Learn more about the Infrastructure and Jobs Act and Valley Vision’s work on broadband access and managing the Sacramento Coalition to close the digital divide

The Comeback of Downtown Sacramento

In 2019, downtown Sacramento was building on the momentum of the Golden 1 Center, breaking ground with Railyards development and the new SAFE Credit Union Convention Center, and more. Then – the pandemic hit. In our best case scenario: downtown picks up where it left off and then some – building on existing assets and embodying a vibrant and equitable pandemic recovery as the economic hub of our region. We envision workers returning to offices, enhanced public transit, a vibrant arts and culture scene, robust tourism and events, and safe, clean, and humane conditions for all. Check out the work of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership

Are these headlines just pipe dreams? They are optimistic but I believe these scenarios are well within our grasp. We CAN usher in major investments this year and we DO have the ability to advance ambitious, innovative, equitable, and collaborative solutions. There are tremendous and historical investment opportunities, many expressed through the American Rescue Plan, the California 2022-2023 Budget proposal, the Jobs and Infrastructure Bill, and more. In addition to these programs, we have seen how communities have worked together to address the issues that most impact our communities throughout the pandemic, creating lightning-fast emergency response and adapting quickly to meet community needs. We can envision and enact a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous future for our region. What will be required? A healthy civic culture and dialogue, the creation of shared agendas, a commitment to collaboration, and a willingness to learn and try new things.

Let 2022 be the year that – despite unpredictable conditions and continued challenges – our region finds ways to achieve our best case scenarios and create systems that are stronger, more adaptive, and more equitable, sustainable, and vibrant than ever before.

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.

New Project to Advance Yolo Food Hub

Developing the Yolo Food Hub will strengthen local farms, improve healthy food access, and provide a healthier food and farming ecosystem throughout the Greater Sacramento Region.

Valley Vision, on behalf of several local partners, has been awarded a grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) to support the establishment of the Yolo Food Hub

Yolo Food Hub is a new facility that will aggregate, process, store, and distribute farm produce grown in Yolo County and surrounding areas on behalf of farmers in the area. Located in Esparto, Yolo Food Hub will expand food production and distribution channels in Yolo County and the Greater Sacramento Region, while at the same time improving healthy food access, stabilizing food markets, increasing employment and job training opportunities, and providing pandemic relief for farmers.

“Yolo Food Hub will help establish a more diverse and equitable food system – one that allows small and mid-size producers to sell fresh, nutritious food more affordably to schools, institutions and agencies, and to swiftly and efficiently donate oversupplies to lower-income and precariously-employed consumers.” – Dr. Maria McVarish, Esparto Community Member 

Food hubs help connect farmers and food entrepreneurs with regional markets and institutional buyers, such as schools, hospitals, and food banks to access source-identified, locally grown products. The funds from this LFPP grant will be used to generate recommendations and a funding strategy to establish and sustain the new Yolo Food Hub. As part of the grant, farmers will receive training on how to reach institutional buyers, such as schools, hospitals, and restaurants, which will buy produce and goods from Yolo Food Hub.

Yolo Food Hub is one of the priority recommendations of the 2021 Sacramento Region Food System Action Plan-which is to build a network of food hubs to connect farmers to markets and increase institutional procurement. The Yolo Food Hub builds upon the 2014 food hub feasibility analysis conducted by SACOG through the Rural-Urban Connections Strategy (RUCS). Yolo Food Hub will support several other food hubs in the region, including Spork Food Hub and the Capay Valley Farm Shop. 

“The creation of the Yolo Food Hub creates opportunities for farmers to connect to a broader array of local markets. The Spork Food Hub brings long-standing relationships with local school districts and the opportunity for students to receive the best quality produce the region can supply. By working together, we can strengthen the resiliency of the regional food system.”
– Spork Food Hub 

In addition, the new Yolo Food Hub will support a regional network of organizations by providing logistical support in aggregation, value-added processing, storage, and distribution services. By providing a variety of value-creating services, Yolo Food Hub will enable farmers to concentrate on growing food for targeted markets, strengthening operations, and scaling their operations.

“Expanding the market reach for agricultural producers and increasing the collaborative efforts of the Yolo Food Hub project partners is ripely timed and exciting. Capay Valley Farm Shop has been operating as a farmer and community-owned food hub since 2007 and is committed to bringing our expertise and enthusiasm to the Yolo Food Hub.”
– Tracy Harding, Capay Valley Farm Shop 

The cost of developing Yolo Food Hub is estimated at $10 million, $2 million of which has been committed by Yolo County for site acquisition. The Yolo Food Hub project team includes: New Season Community Development Corporation (NSCDC), Capay Valley Farm Shop (CVFS), Yolo Food Bank, Durst Organic Growers, Spork Food Hub, Hatamiya Group, Kitchen Table Advisors, and Valley Vision as the project manager. 

For questions about Yolo Food Hub or how to get involved, please contact Grace Kaufman at Grace.Kaufman@ValleyVision.org.

Yolo Food Hub Flyer

What Are You Grateful for in 2021?

As each year comes to a close, Valley Vision staff reflect on what we have been grateful for over the past year. It’s an annual tradition, and we are excited to share our reflections with you. Thank you for continuing to support and collaborate with us!

Isa Avanceña: “I’m grateful for all the meals shared with family and friends, and time spent outdoors! I’m especially grateful for finally being reunited with my parents after more than two years of not being together! They arrive on Saturday from the Philippines.”

Renee John: “I am grateful for an amazing team dedicated to improving the lives of our region’s residents and for the collaborative efforts of a whole ecosystem of partners striving for a better future for all.”

Alan Lange: “I was grateful to read that charitable giving throughout the nation reached record levels in 2020. I am hopeful that the trend continued through this year. It is heartening to see individuals, businesses, and foundations step up when so many are in need. (And yes, I’m also grateful that the stock market helped buoy the charitable spirit!).”

Brittnii Johnson: “I’m grateful for all the simple things in life that I don’t take the time to appreciate. For example, family, friends that became family, the ability to care for myself, and having a place to live. I’m grateful to experience love in action.”

Grace Kaufman: “I’m grateful for experiences that provide me with a deeper appreciation of life and free me from distractions.”

Angelina Olweny: “I am grateful for good health and the opportunity to be part of a team and organization that is committed to making a positive difference in communities in the Sacramento region.”

Trish Kelly: “I’m very grateful that loved ones have made it safely through the year, that we are able to do work at Valley Vision that contributes to the community, and that the people we work with enrich our lives through rich and caring partnerships.”

Danielle Susa: “I am grateful for the people in my life who remind me why life is precious. I am also grateful for the simpler moments that remind me why life is beautiful.”

Evan Schmidt: “I’m grateful for the health and wellbeing of loved ones over the course of the year, the ability to do work that improves lives and communities, and moments of fun and levity with family and friends.”

Caitlin Blockus: “I am grateful to have adopted my sweet rescue dog in 2021, who has taught me many lessons in patience and understanding, and brought me so much joy and love. I am also grateful for COVID-19 vaccines and the ability to reconnect with my family.”

Natalie Garcia: “I’m grateful to have the opportunity to explore California’s diverse landscapes through van camping. And also grateful to have met some new awesome and authentic friends.”

Adrian Rehn: “I am grateful that myself and my loved ones have their health, and for being able to safely explore much of our country this past Summer.”

The Prosperity Partnership Helps Secure Millions for Inclusive Economic Impact for Greater Sacramento Region

Online webinars to be held starting November 18 for more information on access to funding.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (November 3, 2021) – The Greater Sacramento region successfully scored two very significant wins via state of California legislative bills that will amount to millions in investment for inclusive economic development including: up to $38 million in funding for Green Means Go; and passage of the $600 million Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF). Both of these victories were bolstered by the collective advocacy and leadership of The Prosperity Partnership which includes: Greater Sacramento Economic Council, Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) and Valley Vision.

“These two victories at the state-level are critical towards the Greater Sacramento region’s recovery and economic resilience, as they not only deliver on real-time investment for jobs, business and infrastructure, but also demonstrate the collective value and impact we have when we work together,” stated The Prosperity Partnership in a joint statement.

Green Means Go is a multi-year pilot that implements the region’s Sustainable Communities Strategy. The pilot aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions and be a catalyst for economic development in the six-county Sacramento region by accelerating infill development. Green Means Go is led and implemented by SACOG, which recently was awarded over $38 million from the state to fund this one-of-a-kind state program. The funds will be critical to accelerate development within existing communities and reduce barriers to building more housing, increasing mobility options and accelerating EV deployment. Outreach and technical assistance will begin in January 2022 for funding requests with all funds to be used by June 30, 2026.

CERF is designed to build a more robust, sustainable, and equitable recovery across all sectors of California’s economy by supporting regional collaboratives in the planning and implementation of inclusive economic strategies towards both recovery and long-term resilience. CERF is funded by a $600 million one-time federal American Rescue Plan Act allocation. Developed in alignment with priorities identified through California Forward’s Roadmap to Shared Prosperity and supported with direct advocacy of The Prosperity Partnership, it will advance pivotal, place-based initiatives and high-road partnerships that reach into under-resourced neighborhoods, regional networks and rural communities; many of which are identified in the core strategies in the work by the partnership through Our Path Forward: The Prosperity Strategy.

An informational session on CERF and funding for organizations and local jurisdictions in Colusa, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties will be held virtually on Thursday, November 18 from 1:00 – 2:00 PM PT. For more information and to register, please visit valleyvision.org to register.

About Our Path Forward and The Prosperity Partnership

Our Path Forward: The Prosperity Strategy is a strategic framework and action plan for the six-county Greater Sacramento region that prioritizes the region’s core economic initiatives for a more prosperous, equitable and resilient economy. The framework was released in May 2020 as both an economic strategy as well as recovery plan. The framework parallels the goals and strategies of the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and includes initiatives over the next five years that focus on a cluster-based economy, infrastructure investments and developing a sector-based workforce.

The Prosperity Strategy is the collective work of five regional organizations known as The Prosperity Partnership including Greater Sacramento Economic Council, Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Sacramento Area Council of Governments and Valley Vision.

For updates and to learn more visit theprosperitystrategy.org.


Press Contact:
Traci Rockefeller Cusack at 916-213-4373
traci@trockcommunications.com

###