Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF)
Dolores Huerta established the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF) in 2003 with proceeds from the Puffin/Nation prize for Creative Citizenship that she received a year earlier. Dolores Huerta remains active with DHF as a full-time unpaid volunteer, and sees the work of the foundation as a continuation of the non-violent civil rights movement of the 1970’s. Dolores’ youngest daughter, Camila Chavez, has served as Executive Director of DHF since its inception in 2003. She has led the organization through steady growth more than tripling the staff who conduct programs on civic engagement, education, LGBTQIA+ equality, health, and youth development. DHF is headquartered in Bakersfield with satellite offices in Arvin, Fresno, Tulare and Visalia.
DHF is a tax-exempt organization on a mission to inspire and organize communities to build volunteer organizations empowered to pursue social justice by recruiting, training and empowering grassroots leaders in low-income communities to pursue social justice through systemic and structural transformation. DHF organizers work to form neighborhood organizations called Vecinos Unidos (United Neighbors). Through this program, DHF has built a powerful network of over 20,000 supporters, volunteers, and voters in the rural agricultural communities of Arvin, Lamont, Weedpatch, Greenfield, and Bakersfield (Kern County) Tulare, Lindsay, and Woodlake (Tulare County) and Caruthers, Sanger and Parlier (Fresno County). Our work is primarily focused on low-income, working class, immigrants and people of color.
The Vecinos Unidos chapters work with DHF on community concerns they have identified as being important such as education, health, the environment, civic engagement, youth development, and economic development. Vecinos Unidos members are trained to work with their neighbors to bring about change in their respective communities by developing campaigns, circulating petitions, developing allies, and communicating with public officials to advance policy changes. DHF uses a grassroots house meeting organizing model to recruit members and to engage the community in Vecinos Unidos chapters.
The Dolores Huerta Foundation partners with multiple organizations through local, regional, and statewide networks. Their strongest base is in South Kern, one of the Building Healthy Communities initiatives supported by the California Endowment.
DHF was a founding member and staffs the Kern Education Justice Collaborative (KEJC) working for education reform through reducing suspension and expulsion rates and incorporating programs to increase support for low-income, English learners and students with disabilities in Kern County. Building on the successes of the KEJC, DHF is working with partners to replicate this model through the Central Valley Movement Building project.
DHF also belongs to two statewide education coalitions working on education reform: Fix School Discipline and Dignity in Schools. This local and statewide work is directly connected to national efforts on school discipline reform being conducted. DHF is an anchor organization of the statewide California Calls alliance working to increase the civic participation of youth, immigrants, and people of color.
DHF is also a member of the Kern LGBTQ Youth Roundtable and Immigration Rapid Response Network.
Issues of women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, labor rights and civil rights are individual threads of a much larger tapestry of justice and universal human rights. Through a combination of new media, traditional media, coalition building, and speaking engagements, DHF staff, board, and volunteers raise awareness about human rights, encouraging professionals and young people alike to become activists. DHF president, Dolores Huerta, travels around the country speaking to diverse groups about the importance of civic participation.If you are interested in booking a member of the DHF team for a speaking engagement, please visit our Speaker’s Bureau.
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