In 2020 the DHF Geographic Information Systems Department, led by GIS Analyst Sophia Garcia, continued to be at the forefront of the Equity and Social Justice GIS movement. The department started off 2020 by leading the campaign for fair and just maps during the Kern Community College District Redistricting campaign. Throughout the campaign, DHF was able to reach over 450 community members, submitted over 60 Community of Interest forms, participated in every public meeting, submitted a community-led map, and continued to educate the community at the beginning of quarantine.
Sophia Garcia, DHF GIS Analyst ,presented to the second annual Equity and Social Justice Special Interest Group at the first ever virtual Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) UC Conference, the presentation had over 800 global participants. In September of 2020, Garcia worked alongside the Equity and Social Justice Committee and the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) Board of Directors to create URISA’s Anti Racism Pro Equity statement.
The End Child Poverty California Campaign (ECPCA) and its 185+ organizational partners expanded much needed support to vulnerable families in California. DHF organized advocacy efforts in key regions – Los Angeles, San Diego, and the Central Valley. Two ECPCA state legislative proposals were signed into law. Senator Caballero’s SB 1409 requires the Franchise Tax Board to pilot a program aimed at increasing the number of claims eligible for the California Earned Income Tax Credit which included families who didn’t file for taxes, many of whom are undocumented. Assembly Member Friedman sponsored AB 1979, which expands the affordable housing needs of foster youth in the child welfare system. On a national level ECPCA Organizers met with key stakeholders to encourage and offer support for the passage of the federal CARES and HEROES Acts. They supported local advocacy efforts in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, and Utah. In California, ECPCA successfully pushed for the the expansion of California Earned Income Tax Credit and the Young Child Tax Credit to eligible undocumented immigrant families in California. As 2020 closes, ECPCA has paused its direct organizing to focus on the crucial legislative changes that must be achieved in the coming year. Dolores Huerta and Conway Collis will continue as Co-Chairs of the ECPCA coalition, and ECPCA partner organizations will work to launch the America 2030 education campaign and plan legislative priorities for 2021. For more information visit www.endchildpovertyca.org.
When schools closed in March due to COVID19, the DHF education team quickly prioritized supporting parents and students during distance learning. In addition to providing resources and timely updates, the education team hosted 40 COVID19 educational support meetings with a total of 179 Vecinos in attendance. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, DHF Vecinos, Youth and parents continued to be engaged in school board advocacy. One hundred thirty Vecinos and youth attended school board meetings and represented their communities and 7 meetings with leadership at Arvin Union, Mojave, Parlier, and Lindsay Unified School Districts. Their persistent advocacy has made huge impacts in parent engagement and student equity. This includes, but is not limited to language access through better interpretation and translation at board meetings, food security through the improved quality of school meals, parent engagement through parent created workshops led by the district, and more productive communication between the districts and parents during this difficult time. The DHF Education Department distributed over 200 school supplies bags full of notebooks, pens, paper, highlighters and all the school essentials needed as well as 367 culturally sensitive books for Kern County families in need. Thanks to donor contributions, DHF was also able to provide school supplies and books to help impacted Fresno County families start the year off right.
DHF Youth have been hit especially hard by the pandemic. In addition to navigating the challenges of remote learning, many are missing their friends and lamenting the inability to celebrate milestones. They bravely faced these challenges giving of their own personal time to strengthen their commitment to serve and assist their families and communities through this crisis. Over 36 DHF Youth participated in 100 phone and text banking shifts for the campaign in support of Prop 15. Twenty-two youth and 5 parents participated in GOTV Human Billboarding rallies in Kern, Tulare and Fresno counties. The youth group participated in DHF hosted candidate forums and pressed candidates to address the issues most critical to young people. DHF Youth submitted public comments and spoke to Bakersfield City School District (BCSD) and Fresno Unified School District to urge the adoption of resolutions in support of Prop 15, which would’ve brought in millions of dollars to local schools. In a victory the resolution was adopted by BCSD. Eleven youth became Super Volunteer Leaders for completing 3 or more GOTV phone and/or text banking volunteer shifts and received certificates of recognition.
The Youth planned and led their very first webinar “Reimagining School Safety” with over 42 youth and parent participants. Youth leaders shared their visions for equitable school funding, more support for distance learning, and additional socio-emotional support for students and families. They continued to call for public action on Prop 15.
DHF Youth participated in a five-week, virtual 2020 Youth Leadership Summer Program which they planned and hosted for their peers. They hosted 15 virtual trainings focused on community organizing, education equity, civic engagement, environmental and labor rights and healing justice. It included panels with the presidents of Fresno and Bakersfield State Universities, Kern High School District and Fresno Unified school board members, Congressman TJ Cox and other elected representatives and community leaders. Fifty two youth completed and received a Dolores Huerta Foundation 2020 Online Summer Youth Leadership Program Certificate.
DHF Vecina, Jessica Nunez, a Spanish speaker and trusted messenger, outreached to families in need to spread the word about DHF hosted food banks. She recruited volunteers to help distribute food to 688 families in Bakersfield and a crew to register voters and canvass for the Census. She organized forums to get her neighbors engaged and informed about renters rights during the pandemic.
Jacqueline Martinez was nominated by DHF Organizer, Lulu Oliva and awarded a 2020 Latino Inspire Award from Representative TJ Cox. “Jackie”, as the Sanger Vecinos Unidos know her, has taken the lead on issues of Senior Citizen Protection, civic participation in her local school board and city council. She is well loved and respected by her peers. Her GOTV work was extraordinary. She canvassed, phone banked and even gave people rides to the polls.
Please check out the latest issue of the Dolores Huerta Foundation’s Weaving Movements Newsletter to learn more about the important gains and accomplishments we made this year. Big thanks to all of our esteemed volunteers and generous donors who make this work possible!
Utilice el botón amarillo “Translate” en la esquina inferior derecha para traducir estos artículos al español.
I hope you had a safe and joyful holiday season. We are grateful to all of the donors and volunteers who helped us provide critical resources for families hit hard by the pandemic in Kern, Tulare, Fresno counties and the Antelope Valley. This newsletter shows just some of the huge volume of work that DHF Vecinos and Youth, staff and volunteers were able to achieve this year. We mobilized thousands of staff and volunteers to do census and voter outreach. Unfortunately, the loss of Prop 22 (denying gig workers coverage under CA labor laws) and Prop 16 (for affirmative action) were a blow to labor rights. The loss of Prop 15 (to bring more funding to our schools and communities) and Prop 21 (for rent control) shows a need to expand our grassroots organizing model. The pandemic made it clear that community based organizations are best positioned to serve in times of crises. We hope we can count on your continued support which allows DHF to have a strong presence in the community and host more food banks, provide additional financial assistance, important information and resources to families hit hard by the pandemic. As we move into 2021 we are compelled to educate folks on the fundamentals of democracy and stress the importance of strong and capable leadership. The events of 2020 and January 6th, 2021 have shown that these issues are truly a matter of life and death. We must protect our democracy & ensure that our government is fairly elected by the people and works for the people. It all begins with education. Our goal is to gain social justice for low income communities. Together we will inform, educate, and empower people to form a just and equitable society. ¡Sí Se Puede! – Dolores Huerta
In the fall of 2019, the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF) Civic Engagement Department launched our Census 2020 outreach campaign. DHF Organizers and volunteers participated in text and phone banking and Covid-safe door-to-door canvassing, in partnership with the Sierra Health Foundation and the Kern Complete Count Committee. Despite challenges ranging from fear tactics by the opposition, a worldwide pandemic, triple-digit heat, poor air quality caused by catastrophic fires, and a constantly changing deadline, DHF teams informed 73,776 hard-to-count community members about the importance of census participation. They obtained pledges to complete the census from 48,633 individuals and collected over 2,980 surveys at doors in Kern, Tulare, Fresno Counties and the Antelope Valley.
Our Census journey began over a year ago, with DHF collecting pledge cards from our Hard To Count community members at our many community & outreach events. The lines were drawn early, with an attempt to add the citizenship question to the Census survey stoking fears in our communities already facing the constant threat of getting separated from their family, getting detained in Detention Centers, or worse, under horrific conditions of detention camps. Cruelty & the dehumanization of our Latino & immigrant communities is very much the point. This attempt was clearly meant to instill fear and discourage many Latinos from participating in the Census, but we leaned into the thought “To Resist, You Must Exist” and to exist you have to get counted in the Census. The Census comes every 10 years, and determines where funding will go for generations to come, this administration by contrast, will only see four years.
The 2020 Census outreach we did in Kern, Tulare & Fresno county allowed us to reach the self-response rates of 2010 in Kern County thanks to Paola Fernandez and surpass the 2010 rate in Tulare & Fresno, Thanks to Angel Ruiz and Dayana Lopez, our Civic Engagement Coordinators and team leads in these counties. In Kern & Tulare we were able to both phonebank & do door-to-door canvassing, while in Fresno we stuck to just canvassing. At the beginning of the lockdown, we continued our Census outreach via phone banking into Tulare & Kern county, while also getting community members a DHF Resource Guide for those affected by the pandemic. While in the Central Valley we are used to bad air days, with climate change exacerbating and lengthening our wildfire season, we had an exceptionally high number of bad air days, combined with the sometimes triple-digit heat, causing us to cancel several walks (canvasses). We also prioritized safety and made sure to follow covid safety protocols and CDC guidelines: temperature checks at the door, face shields were available, new masks every day, encouraging hand washing and sanitizing our work stations between shifts. So what do you do when people are on lockdown during a pandemic, and may not want to come to their doors? You make them come out of their homes! The Census team got creative, hired DJ’s for a Census caravan, started giving away hand sanitizer and PPE to get folks to come and fill out their Census Survey. Despite these challenges, we contacted 73,776 hard to count community members and 48,633 pledged to get counted in the census.
DHF Vecinos Unidos® and Youth focused heavily on the 2020 Census and civic engagement work, while establishing 3 new chapters in northern Los Angeles County’s Antelope Valley: Palmdale, Lancaster, and Rosamond. In addition they organized and volunteered at DHF hosted food banks – holding them during hours more accessible to working families. They distributed food to 3,449 families hard hit by the pandemic. DHF Organizers provided support and resources to help Vecinos avoid foreclosures and evictions and access to other forms of financial assistance. In partnership with local, state and national charitable organizations, DHF distributed more than $250,000 financial assistance to families that were excluded from the Economic Impact Payments provided by the federal government due to legal status. Many of these individuals serve the larger community daily as essential workers.
In partnership with Cali Calls, DHF Vecinos, Youth and staff gathered 2,500 signatures statewide to qualify the Schools & Communities First Initiative (later known as Proposition 15). The initiative aimed to address California’s most pressing challenges and inequities by investing more tax dollars in education, public services and infrastructure. A total of 268 volunteers were mobilized from across the nation. They completed a total of 1,962 volunteer shifts that included 1,420 phone banking shifts and 542 textbanking shifts, greatly exceeding volunteer recruitment goals.
Over 4,000 voters were contacted and identified as supporters of Prop 15. The Vecinos Unidos completed more than 1,000 volunteer shifts in support of DHF get out the vote (GOTV) efforts. Although results showed that there is strong public demand for closing the corporate tax loopholes which cost our local communities billions every year, the initiative fell short of the votes needed to pass. Most recently, DHF’s Ballot Curing Team helped 75 voters in Kern, Tulare & Fresno counties correct their ballots and submit them to their local elections offices before the deadline.
This pandemic has highlighted the socio-economic disparities in our communities, those that would have benefited the most had Prop 15 passed. We finished an historic campaign a few points shy of what we needed to win. What an enormous injustice that wealth grows for billionaires while the rest of us fight for basic resources. Regardless of the outcome, our opposition raised nearly $75 million to defeat us for a reason. We are a force to be reckoned with. Undaunted in our efforts this setback will not stop us from pursuing additional tax equity initiatives.
Like many, we had to be flexible with how we were organizing. While we are typically reliant on in-person door-to-door interaction with voters, due to the virus, this election cycle for our Prop 15 outreach, we had to rely entirely on online, virtual & relational organizing. In partnership with Cali Calls, starting in DHF hosted weekly phone banking and text banking volunteer events in support of Prop 15 as well as hosting weekly voter registration trainings which turned into Election Protection trainings during GOTV (Get Out The Vote). Our outreach was a combination of gathering support for Prop 15, educating voters on voting and mail-in ballots, and inviting them to our virtual events & recruiting volunteers.
Our IVE Coordinators (Team Leads), Lori Pesante and Eliana Honeycutt & [IVE] Organizer, Joanna Mendoza mobilized 22 DHF Staff and our 268 volunteers completed a total of 1,962 volunteers shifts ranging from DHF youth, DHF Vecinos, and volunteers from communities all over the U.S. Our volunteers hailed from all over the state, from the Bay Area, the Central Valley, and states like New York, Texas, & Oregon who all contributed 1,420 phone banking volunteer shifts, and 542 textbanking volunteers shifts, surpassing many of our goals. We are proud to have clenched the third rail of politics and shaken it fearlessly. Onward.
Please check out the latest issue of the Dolores Huerta Foundation’s Weaving Movements Newsletter to learn more about the important gains and accomplishments we made this year. Big thanks to all of our esteemed volunteers and generous donors who make this work possible!
Please read the latest edition of our Weaving Movements DHF Newsletter to learn about some of the exiting work we were able to accomplish this year – thanks to the contributions of our esteemed volunteers and generous donors!
This year, Carol Watkins, California City Organizer, helped to organize and establish the first predominantly African-American Vecinos Unidos(Neighbors United) Chapter. DHF has been working closely with youth and parents to address the discipline crisis in the Mojave Unified School District (MUSD). As a result, the district agreed to create an African-American Parent Committee. MUSD has the highest suspension rate of African-American students in the state. A shocking 81% of African American students were suspended or expelled in the 2014-15 school year.
California City Vecinos achieved great victories through parent engagement and advocacy in the LCAP process. Harshly affected by zero-tolerance policies and the pushout of African American students, parents organized and submitted recommendations to MUSD. Among these recommendations were the removal of security resource officers on campus, changing the grading system to make it more fair, increasing funds for cultural awareness, and more. Although not all recommendations were adopted, MUSD has allocated funds towards implicit bias training for teachers, curriculum on the African American experience, and hiring teachers of color.
In May 2018, the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF) and Vecinos Unidos(Neighbors United) of Lamont and Arvin pushed for fairer representation on the Kern High School District (KHSD) Board of Trustees. DHF’s new Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team was able to gather population data and develop a variety of maps to present its case for better representation on the KHSD’s Board. DHF’s GIS Analyst developed a map that showcased the Latino’s population growth in Kern County on the school district’s map using information from the American Community Survey. The proposed DHF map highlighted the residence of three trustees, all who live within a three-mile radius from one another in the wealthiest, affluent area of Northwest Bakersfield. These tools helped the community understand how KHSD gerrymandered boundaries which resulted in the centralized power of the white minority, thereby systematically denying the just representation of historically disenfranchised communities of color. The DHF and communities attended board meetings to advocate for an additional Latino-majority district and the grouping of communities of interest to prevent further gerrymandering and to distribute power fairly across communities served by KHSD. The maps created by the DHF’s GIS team were presented at board meetings to counter the maps being presented by the KHSD. In the end, the Kern County Committee on School District Organization (KCCSDO), the entity with the final say, voted to implement a school district map that was proposed by the KHSD Board of Trustees and made no major changes to decentralizing power concentrated in Northwest Bakersfield. The DHF and Vecinosattained a second Latino-majority district, although more needs to be done to end underrepresentation on boards that impact the education inequities in Kern County.
The DHF staff and 136 volunteers collected more than 3,000 signatures for the petition to qualify the Schools and Communities First Initiative for the November 2020 ballot, surpassing its organizational goal. The DHF in partnership with California Calls hopes to fund our schools and local communities by closing California’s massive corporate loophole. The initiative, if passed, will increase state revenue by making corporations pay their fair share of commercial property taxes. California is the 5th largest economy in the world; we should be able to pay for world-class schools, health care for all, safe neighborhoods, and affordable housing. Closing the corporate loophole will reclaim $11 billion every year for our schools and communities. This means we can restore our emergency responder services, parks and libraries, health clinics and trauma centers, housing development and services for the homeless, infrastructure, and local schools and community colleges.
Please read the latest edition of the Weaving Movements DHF Newsletter to meet some of our new staff and learn about some of the exiting work we were able to accomplish this year – thanks to the contributions of our esteemed volunteers and generous donors!
On May 10th, 2016, the Kern Education Justice Collaborative, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, Faith in Action, and California Rural Legal Assistance held a press conference with parents, community members, and local leaders announcing a county wide Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Media Campaign encouraging public involvement in the school funding decision making process and participation in upcoming LCAP public comment sessions.
The campaign draws attention to the fact that Kern High School District is failing our kids. Only 15% of graduating students are college ready. Students in low-income communities are particularly vulnerable. According to the (School Accountability Report Cards) SARC on the KHSD website schools on the West Side have, on average, roughly twice as many AP courses as those on the East Side. For instance, Golden Valley offered 10 AP courses, Miramonte offered 8, East 10, and Arvin High 10. By contrast, Stockdale offered 21 AP courses, while Centennial offered 23. This highlights the fact that KHSD schools with the highest needs are not receiving the funds that they are guaranteed through the Local Control Funding Formula.
When signing the law, Jerry Brown called it a civil rights issue. “Through the LCFF students that have additional needs will get additional help… it is right, and it’s fair.”
The LCFF is intended to target low-income, English language learning, and foster youth (LI, ELL, and FY) students. How these additional funds are spent is determined through the LCAP process, which legally requires that schools engage with stakeholders and gather public input in May and June 2016.
The Kern Education Justice Collaborative, The Dolores Huerta Foundation, and Faith in Action Kern County invite the community to participate in a FREE LCAP Workshop for the general public to learn hands-on strategies and skills for Influencing school budgets. The workshop is being held on Monday, May 16th from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Reider Education Center at 2000 K Street, Room 101, Bakersfield, CA 93301.
Equality Program Organizers, Moises Duran and Dean Welliver, participated in the Kern County Foster Youth Empowering Success Conference on Friday, May 6, 2016 at Bakersfield. They did outreach on behalf of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and the Gay and Lesbian Center of Bakersfield, providing information about support services in the community for LGBTQ foster youth and offering opportunities for civic engagement.
The youth led Kern County Foster Youth Empowering Success Conference focused on topics surrounding Foster Youth. Youth transitioning to adulthood were encouraged to engage and live in their community as a whole to increase their success in pursuing education and employment. The event allowed for caregivers and community agencies to come together to collaborate with foster youth and develop partnerships that reinforce existing relationships in order to provide supportive services that lead to their success.
Board of Supervisors 2011 Redistricting Plan Denies Latino Voters A Second Majority District
On Friday, April 22nd, 2016 MALDEF, the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization, filed suit against the Kern County, California Board of Supervisors, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, for violating Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. The suit, filed on behalf of Latino citizens of Kern County, challenges Kern County’s 2011 redistricting plan for unlawfully diluting the Latino vote and effectively preventing Latinos from meaningful participation in Board of Supervisors elections.
In 2011, the Kern County Board of Supervisors adopted a new 5-district county supervisorial plan based on the 2010 U.S. Census data. The plan contains one district – District 5 – where Latinos constitute a majority of the eligible voters. That district is currently represented by Leticia Perez, who was elected in 2012, and it is the only district that has regularly elected a Latino candidate in the last two decades. MALDEF contends that a fairly drawn plan should have included a second Latino majority district in northern Kern County. Instead, the 2011 redistricting plan divided a politically cohesive Latino community in the northern part of Kern County into two supervisorial districts, neither one of which has sufficient Latino population to enable Latino voters to elect a candidate of their choice.
“The growth of the Latino population in Kern County warrants additional representation of Latino-preferred candidates on the Board of Supervisors,” stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. “The Board’s refusal to create a new Latino-majority district, even after being presented with the facts in support of one, led directly to this federal lawsuit.”
Dolores Huerta, Kern County resident and founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, said, “We are grateful that MALDEF is committed to represent our community to rectify a poor decision made by the Board of Supervisors five years ago. We are confident that the Latino community in Kern County will win the representation that we deserve.”
Although Latinos comprise 34% of Kern County’s citizen voting age population, the current districting plan prevents Latino voters from attaining representation on the Board in numbers that reflect their voting strength, and the underrepresentation of Latino-preferred candidates has persisted for decades.
Joaquin Avila, co-counsel representing plaintiffs in the case, said, “The 21st Century continues to herald the growth of the Latino population within the state of California and the necessity to fully politically integrate the Latino community into the body politic. All we are seeking is an opportunity to elect candidates of our choice in a manner that is enjoyed by the white population. Nothing more.”
Matthew Barragan, MALDEF Staff Attorney, said, “The fracturing of the Latino community in northern Kern County is precisely the kind of racial gerrymandering that the Voting Rights Act was intended to cure, and that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly condemned as illegal discriminatory vote dilution.”
MALDEF and the Plaintiffs in the case seek an order requiring the County to redraw its supervisorial plan to reflect the growth of the County’s Latino population in a manner that provides all voters with an equal opportunity to elect candidates of choice.
The right to vote is fundamental to democracy in the U.S. and must be protected for all citizens, regardless of race. MALDEF supports equal representation for all communities across the country.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community,” MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access.
For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org