Press Release New Reports Show Community-Led Investment Is Building Capacity and Resilience in California’s Frontline Communities


SACRAMENTO – The California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) today announced the latest evaluation reports produced by the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation showcasing the outcomes of community-led investment efforts in Fresno, Ontario, Stockton, and the Watts and Northeast San Fernando Valley neighborhoods of Los Angeles. The five communities are the grant recipients of SGC’s Transformative Climate Communities (TCC), a program investing in historically disinvested California communities to build long-term capacity to advance their own economic, environmental, and health goals while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2016, SGC has invested $320 million in 36 communities across California as part of the TCC program.

The new reports highlight that as of June 2022, project partners across the five sites have started construction on or built more than 237 affordable housing units, installed 157 solar photovoltaic systems for low-income households, planted 3,885 trees, and more. In addition, the grants funded paid training for 211 community members for new careers, along with supporting hundreds of other training and paid job opportunities. Investments and other decisions are governed by residents together with local government and other project partners through a community-based oversight committee required through the grant.

“As our new reports show, TCC initiatives are building community capacity in profound ways,” said Elena Hernandez, a researcher with the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation. “Empowering historically underserved communities, including youth residents, to tackle climate change on their own terms is laying the foundation for a new generation of leaders, and by extension, catalyzing long-term transformation.”

Authorized by Assembly Bill 2722 in 2016, TCC has become a model for community-led and climate-focused block grant investments. Nationally, the program has renewed relevance as hundreds of programs are directed to equitably invest in disadvantaged communities overburdened by pollution through President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative.

"TCC invests in the social and physical infrastructure of communities, supporting our most vulnerable residents to design, implement, and lead projects that advance their vision for prosperity and health at the block level,” said Lynn von Koch-Liebert, executive director of the Strategic Growth Council. “UCLA’s evaluation makes clear that the Transformative Climate Communities program is leading to transformative and equitable outcomes across California and can serve as a model for climate equity for state and federal program administrators tasked with implementing the goals of the Justice40 Initiative.”

The reports also demonstrate the state’s initial investments are supporting long-term community readiness and advocacy, with project partners leveraging initial investments to win millions of dollars in non-TCC funding and advance key community issues like displacement avoidance and workforce development.

  • The TCC-funded Green Together Collaborative empowers Pacoima and Sun Valley residents of Los Angeles to build a safe, healthy, equitable, and climate-resilient community. Based on a foundation of community engagement, Green Together strategically leverages existing programming offered through the community-based organization Pacoima Beautiful. This approach empowers resident leaders to have public influence while strengthening their professional relationships and skills. For instance, Green Together’s Clean Air Ambassador program allowed Jenifer Fonseca to learn how to collect, analyze, and compare air quality data. She now feels equipped to speak publicly about her community’s air pollution challenges and advocate for solutions.
  • To amplify the impacts of their TCC grant, the City of Ontario and community partners integrated the pre-existing Healthy Ontario Initiative into Ontario Together’s approach to community engagement and sustainable neighborhood transformation. The approach involves paid community health workers, known as resident leaders, who collect community feedback to inform Ontario Together planning and implementation decisions. “I have many goals, and I believe the job I have with the city will help because… it opens new doors to new opportunities,” said Tavis Díaz, a resident leader.
  • Transform Fresno seeks to catalyze economic and environmental transformation in three underserved neighborhoods in Fresno. The TCC–supported Fresno Career Development Institute leads community outreach for the Clean Shared Mobility Network, which provides low- or no-cost electric vehicle carsharing, bikesharing, and vanpooling. Through the grant, Keshia Thomas, executive director of the Institute, is expanding connections and collaborations. For example, she was recently invited to join the Fresno County Bicycle Coalition’s Board of Directors and to travel to Germany to learn more about mobility planning overseas.
  • Watts Rising also employs residents as outreach ambassadors, known in Watts as the Street Team. These residents oversee community engagement and as trusted messengers, they connect fellow residents with TCC projects such as no-cost solar and energy efficiency installations. One ambassador, Anai Velazquez, was at first hesitant to present at public forums. But being a Street Team member built her comfort in talking to people. “I’ve become less afraid,” Anai said. “I’ve found that if I’m kind, they’ll be kind back,” she added.
  • Stockton Rising’s Climate Leaders program is helping residents, like Eufrosina to become community and climate justice leaders through paid field training and educational programming.

Learn more about UCLA’s reports.

Media Contact

Agustin Arreola, (279) 386-2183

About the California Strategic Growth Council

The California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) is a 10-member council comprised of seven state agencies and three public members with the mission to build healthy, thriving, and resilient communities for all. Funded through California’s Cap and Trade system and the California General Fund, SGC’s grant programs, strategic initiatives, and interagency coordination focus on multi-benefit and community-centric solutions at the nexus of climate and equity. Since 2008, SGC has invested over $3.5 billion in projects strengthening communities and addressing climate change across California.