Championing First Amendment Rights

The James B. McClatchy Foundation (JBMF) announced Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) as one of six inaugural awardees of the LIFT Grant Initiative, a pilot program dedicated to the awareness of, and engagement with, the First Amendment freedoms of speech, expression, and a free press. Read Full Press Release.

In total, $300K was awarded in grants to help enhance and expand civic engagement efforts on issues impacting lives in Central Valley communities. Although COVID-19 has severely restricted opportunities to engage their communities, the six awardees are recognized as extraordinary grassroots champions of the First Amendment forging ahead, uniting diverse groups of people in civic engagement, promoting local journalism in the home language of their residents, and empowering traditionally underserved populations.

The additional awardees include Hmong Innovating Politics, Sacramento Area Congregations Together, Sol Collective, South Kern Sol, and Yolo County Office of Education.

“With these LIFT grants, we are investing in dynamic organizations to build vibrant and fiercely engaged communities across the great Central Valley region,” said Priscilla Enriquez, CEO of JBMF. “With this funding, we are excited to partner with these six organizations to strengthen a culture of civic engagement within traditionally under-resourced communities.”

The LIFT pilot initiative is built on three strategic pillars: Lifting Local Voices, Lifting Inclusive Partnerships, and Lifting Organizational Power. This round of grants focuses on inclusive partnerships and collaborations and grantees were selected based on their ability to address real-world issues for under-served communities while reflecting the rich diversity of the Central Valley. Each will be awarded one-year grants, averaging $50,000.

“Since our inception, PIQE has been at the forefront of a family empowerment movement helping parents become agents of change on issues related to educational equity,” PIQE President and CEO Gloria Corral said. “We are honored by James B. McClatchy Foundation’s commitment to our mission. Their investment in our work will help to enhance our engagement efforts in Fresno County and activate more parents in policy areas that impact access to equitable educational opportunities for their children. Together, we will help improve access to high-quality teaching and learning.”

Anchored by a report by the CA Public Policy Institute on current Census data that underscores the need for civic engagement philanthropic support, JBMF created the pilot LIFT Grant Initiative to recognize that civic engagement capacity is deeply underfunded in the Central Valley, which further contributes to communities’ (in)abilities to participate in decisions that impact their lives. In a time of rising divisiveness, the goal is to promote stories of hope, resilience, and strength as communities are empowered to be a part of their own solutions. 

“Through JBMF’s grantmaking investment, we’ve identified a cohort of civic engagement leaders and partnerships across a compelling spectrum, from grassroots organizations to community media, to education,” said Misty Avila, JBMF Program Officer for Civic Engagement. “It’s a network of local partnerships that are building traction and can be scaled and modeled in other communities. This is creating critical, real-world impact throughout the Central Valley.”

As JBMF assesses success with the first grantmaking pilot, plans are underway to continue awarding grants to non-profit organizations focused on another key pillar of the program, Lifting Organizational Power. View the LIFT Grants Initiative overview

About JBMF

The James B. McClatchy Foundation, formerly known as the Central Valley Foundation, was founded in 1994 by Susan and the late James B. McClatchy who together envisioned an organization that builds brilliant futures in California’s Central Valley through support for English Learners and First Amendment protections of free speech, freedom of expression, and a free press. Over 23 years, the Foundation has made annual grants across its footprint in the Central Valley and continues to seek promising new ways to advance the region’s most valuable resource – the abundant cultural wealth of its people. The James B. McClatchy Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit philanthropic organization and is not affiliated with the McClatchy Company or McClatchy publications.