In 2002, Dolores Huerta received the Puffin/Nation $100,000 prize for Creative Citizenship which she used to establish the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF) for grassroots community organizing the following year.
Camila Chavez, Dolores’ youngest daughter, has served as Executive Director of the DHF since its inception and now leads a staff of over 20 organizing, communications, and administrative staff and interns who conduct programs on civic engagement, education, LGBT equality, health, women, and youth development.
Dolores Huerta, President, 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.
The primary DHF office is located in downtown Bakersfield with satellite offices in Arvin, Visalia and Fresno.
The DHF has implemented its organizing model in six rural communities (Lamont, Arvin, Weedpatch, Woodlake, Cutler-Orosi, Tulare) in California’s Central Valley. In these communities, full-time trained organizers form neighborhood organizations called Vecinos Unidos (United Neighbors). These neighborhood residents, the Vecinos, are trained to collectively engage public officials and navigate the system for the benefit of their communities.
- Defended voters’ rights: redistricting victory with Kern County Board of Supervisors. Kern High School District for representation of people of color.
- Launched a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) program for data collection and map creation for education and redistricting projects.
- Established a base of more than 20,000 voters in Kern and Tulare counties in partnership with California Calls.
- Registered and mobilized more than 1,000 infrequent, young, and immigrant voters in Kern and Tulare counties.
- Regularly contact these 20,000 voters with non-partisan voter education information through a team of 40 paid canvassers and more than 100 trained volunteers.
- Hosted candidate forums in Lamont, Arvin, Bakersfield, Woodlake & Lindsay.
- Implemented a media and communications voter outreach campaign through press conferences, an online video contest, a crowdsourcing campaign, and an online petition asking voters to pledge to vote.
- Partnered with Asian Americans for Advancing Justice to implement a poll monitoring project for Election Day. Trained 20 poll monitors who observed 40 polling sites in Kern, Tulare, and Kings Counties.
- Knocked on 3,000 doors in one day to encourage residents to complete Census surveys.
- Secured millions of dollars for local infrastructure such as new sewer connections, street lights, sidewalks, and gutters in Lamont and Weedpatch from 2007-2015.
- Obtained half a million dollars to renovate two public swimming pools in Lamont and Arvin.
- Vecinos Unidos successfully advocated for a new neighborhood park in Woodlake.
- Passed a one cent tax increase in Arvin for recreational and public services, two school bond measures to build fences and a new gymnasium at a school in Weedpatch, and school infrastructure improvements in Arvin.
- In 2017, in a historic victory for DHF, Kern High School District (KHSD) agreed to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of Latino and Black students for disproportionately suspending students of color due to implicit bias. The district will now have to implement positive discipline practices and provide training to all staff and personnel.
- Led education efforts in Kern County in 2012 on Proposition 30, which raised an additional $370 million in funding for education in Kern County and more than $13.1 billion statewide.
- Played a leadership role in building the Kern Education Justice Collaborative, which is addressing disparate disciplinary treatment between students of color and their white peers at Kern High School District due to current policies and practices (California’s largest high school district serving over 36,000 students),
- Successfully advocated for the allocation of over $3 million to parent centers and programs to improve school climate and the elimination of over $1million allocated to an underperforming online program at Kern High School District.
- Partnered with Arvin Union School District to formalize Safe Routes to School volunteer efforts encouraging walking and bike riding to school as well as joint use agreements, and making school facilities available to community members during non-school hours.
- Established a partnership with Kern County Superintendent of Schools to provide training for district personnel on alternative discipline methods to reduce suspensions and expulsions.
- Partnered with the Lamont Elementary School District to train parents in the Local Control Accountability Plan which led to the dismissal of an administrator who lacked credentials.
- In 2016, DHF established an Equality Program
- Established the first PFLAG in Spanish serving monolingual Spanish speaking families.
- Strengthened the Kern LGBT Youth Roundtable through inclusion of youth.
- Organized first Queer Youth Prom hosted at the Bakersfield Lesbian & Gay Center and continue to host annual prom.
- Organized annual youth summit in Kern County providing comprehensive workshops and trainings.
- Trained 20 youth to participate in non-partisan voter outreach and engagement via phone banking and door to door canvassing.
- Banned sugary beverages in three school districts in Arvin, Lamont, and Woodlake.
- Reinstated the breakfast program in the Vineland School District.
- Cultiva La Salud (CLS) resident committees have planned interventions addressing walking, biking and safe routes to school, such as Cumbia Rides and Walking School Buses.
- Residents successfully advocated for funding for Safe routes to School district wide. Starting fall 2016, the Arvin Unified School District (AUSD) will hire classified positions to promote Safe Routes to School.
- Parents advocated for local procurement in AUSD Wellness Policy, this year at least 25% of the produce served to students, will be purchased within a 200 mile radius of the Kern County line and each subsequent year will be raised 10%, with 75% achieved by 2021.
- Sponsored a Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) resolution that was unanimously approved by the Arvin City Council.
- Established collaboration with Burning Man, receiving 300 donated bikes which will be used to launch a pilot bike share program.