Valley Forward is a youth leadership organization dedicated to advancing social and economic justice initiatives in the San Joaquin Valley.
Valley Forward’s purpose is to organize neighborhoods around civic participation by mentoring young leaders to communicate with Valley residents.
The San Joaquin Valley (Central Valley) of California is often considered ground zero for many of the most pressing health crises in the United States. Valley neighbors lack clean water access, clean air to breathe, clean recreational parks, adequate funding for educational institutions, affordable housing, safe neighborhoods, and quality employment opportunities. Our region hosts dozens of the most impoverished census tracks in the nation, made up of hundreds of residents on government assistance programs for their most basic needs. To begin addressing these issues, Valley residents must be organized around shared local values and engage in grassroots advocacy.
Valley Forward’s program is designed to give local students the tools to inspire grassroots advocacy in rural communities, where civic participation is at record lows. We know that increased civic participation results in accountable and reflective representation in local government and can increase resource allocations in small communities. Students at Valley Forward are introduced to the political process and gain meaningful experience through conversations about local issues with neighbors at their doorstep. By listening to Valley neighbors, rather than soliciting to them, our program captures the collective voice of each community, while giving our team the best possible introduction to civic education. Ultimately, our goal is to illustrate a pattern of needs for the Central Valley and to give neighbors, and students, the direction needed to be permanently proactive in their own communities.