CA FWD is committed to creating inclusive and sustainable economic growth. We do this by supporting interrelated policy action areas that help all Californians across the state’s regions prosper and claim their California Dream. 

Foundational to the California Dream, these diverse areas are inextricably linked. One is not independent of the other. These areas include:

We move these areas forward with the strength of our collaborative approach – including the California Stewardship Network, the California Economic Summit network, and our Young Leaders Advisory Council – and we measure our progress with the California Dream Index.

The Young Leaders Advisory Council’s purpose is to advance access to greater economic prosperity for all Californians, specifically marginalized youth and young adults. With members representing different regions, races, ethnicities and communities throughout the state, the Young Leaders Advisory Council is poised to address both local and statewide issues that greatly impact next-generation voices through advocacy, civic engagement, coalition building, and policy development.

Priority Actions

In 2020, California Forward has identified the following priority actions.

    Housing for All

Photo of colorful apartment buildings

Housing has become the primary obstacle to livability in almost every region. High costs are pushing millions of people below the poverty line and many into homelessness.

Compounding existing housing challenges, longer commutes negatively impact air quality and worker’s health, while more and more employers struggle to attract and retain skilled workers.

California Forward, together with partners in the Summit, has risen to this challenge with ambitious policy initiatives and strategic alliances with triple-bottom-line economic development organizations.

We have promoted enhanced service delivery options that have challenged the status quo and the prevailing perception of what is fair, just and achievable for all Californians in the housing space. And continue this work with an expanded focus on equity, especially as it relates to homeownership, and meeting the state’s climate goals as well as its housing needs.

“The triple bottom line for housing — equity, environment, economics — requires attainable homeownership for California’s working families.”
-Jennifer Hernandez, CA FWD Leadership Council


  Support transit-oriented development and develop multilateral solutions to address the complexity of this issue. An important component of the housing supply debate centers on the benefits of providing housing close to transit. Major issues that need to be addressed include the high cost of development, regulatory streamlining, displacement and disruption of existing neighborhoods, and large subsidies needed to make the projects affordable. The current focus on developing multi-family rental housing presents additional challenges to home ownership.

  Utilize “skipped over” land for infill development by focusing on urban areas that contain significant acreage that remains underutilized. This land could be developed for housing, in addition to developing those areas closer to transit systems.

  Extend the “urban edge” to fill the housing gap. It may be necessary to consider circumstances and development standards that would warrant expanding the current “urban edge,” particularly when coupled with economic development that will produce greater employment growth so that families can live near employment centers.

  Support a legislative effort to fund housing and community infrastructure by revising Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts (EIFDs) to create a new Community Investment Funding Authority (CIFA). This effort will facilitate new partnerships as well as increase public and private investments.

  Research barriers to affordable homeownership by low-income communities and communities of color, and conduct policy and practice engineering at the regional scale to connect this research to strategies to elevate more equitable homeownership.

  Promote a holistic approach to meeting the needs of homeless populations that resolve current constraints on state and federal funding and more explicitly address equity concerns.


Reimagining California’s Housing Policy With An Equity Lens
800 300 Amber Bolden

CalHFA leader talks about supporting a broader range of income levels to get better housing outcomes for California

New State Broadband Action Plan Seeks Community-Based Input
800 300 Deb Kollars

First of two listening sessions draws diverse group of regional leaders

Report: Does state tax policy discourage housing production?
800 300 Nadine Ono

New report by SPUR and CA FWD delves into the relationship between tax policy and production of housing that is affordable

    Equitable Communities

Sunset jump shot at the beach

More than ever, it is important to reduce the significant racial and geographic inequalities within our state. The events we have seen unfold are decades in the making. They are chronic symptoms of the inequities reflected in policies that maintain the status quo and create barriers that deny opportunities for some – but not for others. We must be deliberate about changing the power and economic imbalances in society.


 Lead the 2020 Regions Rise Together strategy sessions in distinct regions of the state to gather input from regional leaders to understand the racial, geographic and economic challenges that California’s regions face, as well as assets that can be utilized for an equitable economic recovery and future growth. Regions Rise Together is an initiative of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), the Office of Planning and Research, California Forward and our California Stewardship Network, and a number of local and regional leaders to ultimately achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth across all of California.

  Support AB 3205, which establishes the Regions Rise Grant Program in the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). The grant program provides regions a pathway to collaborate and develop inclusive regional strategies for economic prosperity.


An Action Plan for Equitable Economic Revitalization
800 300 CA FWD

Rethinking California’s infrastructure programs to balance growth with real, immediate investments in communities in need.

Addressing racial inequities in the spotlight as regions plan for recovery
800 300 Nadine Ono

How economic planning can build more equity featured during Regions Recover Together workshop

Creating an investment strategy for California’s economic recovery
800 300 Micah Weinberg and Fred Silva

Four ways to use the state budget to get Californians back to work and upwardly mobile

Broad coalition calls for inclusive regional economic planning in state’s recovery
800 400 CA FWD

Legislation would create path for more collaboration between local, nonprofit, business, and philanthropy leaders in California’s regions

    Ecosystems & Climate Resiliency


More than ever, it is important to reduce the significant racial and geographic inequalities within our state. The events we have seen unfold are decades in the making. They are chronic symptoms of the inequities reflected in policies that maintain the status quo and create barriers that deny opportunities for some – but not for others. We must be deliberate about changing the power and economic imbalances in society.


  Amplify the urgent need to increase the pace of forest treatment and development of wood products industries to reduce wildfires, strengthen forest health and landscape resilience, and revitalize rural economies by communicating the key facts and principles in the Summit’s report, “California’s Wildfire Crisis: A Call to Action,” and generating endorsements in support.

  Support a budget augmentation to facilitate the expansion of the Rural Urban Connections Strategy (RUCS) into the foundation of an open-source, statewide decision support tool to map and model ecosystem services and the related economic benefits.

  Build multi-stakeholder support, in collaboration with the CA Dept. of Water Resources, to design and implement successful multi-benefit flood management and groundwater recharge projects.

  Support partners in implementing the Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley through their development of a community-based collaborative strategy to establish guiding principles, goals, and outcomes for water sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley.


PolicyWise Podcast Episode 4: The Environment and Sustainability
800 350 Nadine Ono

Hosts Demi and Michael welcome a climate activist and an energy policy adviser to the show to talk about environmental justice and California energy policy.

The give and take of enterprise offers hope in California’s wildfire crisis
800 300 Deb Kollars

North Bay group identifying monetary benefits that can flow from healthy, resilient forests

    Thriving Economies

welder working

By bringing government, business, and civic leaders together to identify regional priorities, share innovations and align with state investments and other policies we can target the root causes of economic insecurity and unsustainable resource management.

The result of this unified effort will be the establishment of a functioning system of “California Capitalism” that will be a model for the rest of the nation and the world.


  Explore opportunities for legislation or budget augmentation to promote regional priority setting that informs regional planning and state policy to advance an inclusive economy through equity, prosperity, and sustainability, while responding to market forces.

  Work with the Newsom Administration to establish a California Sustainable Manufacturing Council led by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to create a consistent and beneficial policy for a thriving California manufacturing ecosystem.

  Support the efforts of the California Capital Markets Task Force to advance community-based investing throughout the state to harness the capacity of public and private investment fiduciaries toward the priorities of ensuring economic, environmental and social well-being.


Newsom Budget Points to a Regional, Inclusive Way Forward
800 241 John Guenther

Funds supporting a regions-up approach to solving problems aligns with CA Fwd and Summit priorities

How manufacturing in California will remain part of our economic future
580 200 Ed Coghlan

Regions are working to raise awareness of manufacturing jobs right in students’ backyards

    Education Cradle to Career

Graduation hats in the air

California’s learning ecosystem must prepare workers to earn a livable wage.

While educational institutions have the largest role to play, an effective lifelong learning ecosystem requires alignment of strategies and tactics among multiple institutions – from early childhood development and preschool until retirement. To be successful, this approach requires the involvement of stakeholders, political leaders, faith leaders, civic leaders and others. An explicit focus on equity requires identification and dismantling of all obstacles to opportunity.


  Work with the Newsom Administration to establish a grant program that will encourage early adopters to measurably demonstrate the benefits of integrated “Cradle to Career” approaches. This grant program will help support early pilots for a longitudinal data system. It will also support eligible local or regional organizations to develop a systems-level infrastructure that will significantly improve educational and developmental outcomes.

  Mobilize support for pending legislation that provides community college students with additional direct financial resources and basic needs assistance so they can afford to enroll and succeed in college. Facilitate design sessions to develop a prototype for financing a lifelong learning system.

  Support the establishment of Regional Talent Development collaboratives built upon a stronger regional business intermediary system. This system will be designed to enrich the efforts of regional training providers and other workforce entities. The focus areas of this effort include development and deployment of analytically based, industry-validated, region-specific career education programs that are fully aligned to regional economic conditions. These collaborations will facilitate purposeful employer engagement to create a thriving local economy to support upward economic mobility for each region’s most underserved communities.


Dr. Alma Salazar awarded 2020 Regional Steward Leader Award
800 350 Nadine Ono

L.A. regional leader left her mark on California workforce development and was dedicated to the marginalized, underserved, and undocumented

San Luis Obispo apprenticeship program earns praise and a Summit workforce award
640 451 Ed Coghlan

Partnership helps close skills gaps in tech and advanced manufacturing while helping residents earn enough to stay in their communities

Student-led nonprofit to win workforce award at California Economic Summit
1000 450 Ed Coghlan

STEM program pivoted to manufacturing PPE supplies during the COVID-19 outbreak

Year Up program earns top Summit workforce award
500 250 CA FWD

Intensive Bay Area training program bridges opportunity gap and fills workforce gaps

    Connecting California

California Highway

1 in 8 homes in California still lacks access to high-speed broadband through a computing device or smartphone. The public health pandemic has displayed and even added to the current digital divide, disproportionately affecting our most vulnerable communities.

CA FWD believes that investments in infrastructure are vital to providing the access our communities need to stay connected and to thrive.


  Partner with the Newsom Administration in the implementation of the “Broadband for All” initiative to capitalize on the established civic infrastructure of the Regional Broadband Consortia and the integration of the California Stewardship Network with California Forward to support and strengthen connections among regions and communities in closing the digital divide.

“To help close the digital divide that exists in communities across California, the Governor announced at the 2019 California Economic Summit in Fresno that he will convene stakeholders, the private sector, education institutions, and government agencies with a goal of developing an inclusive “Broadband for All” plan for the state.”


COVID-19 shows that Gov. Newsom, legislators must close California’s digital divide
800 350 Pete Weber and Eduardo Gonzalez

Too many California residents suffer from the digital divide of those who can afford technology and those who cannot. Elected leaders must bridge the gap.

Call for New Federal Partnership on Broadband Access in California
800 448 Nadine Ono

Recent CA FWD webinar explored how federal funds could augment California’s broadband action plan

New State Broadband Action Plan Seeks Community-Based Input
800 300 Deb Kollars

First of two listening sessions draws diverse group of regional leaders

Internet providers must take lead on closing digital divide
610 210 Barbara O'Connor and John Chiang

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent executive order directing state agencies to address the digital divide is a great start. But leadership must go beyond government. Internet access is a 21st century civil right.

    Health & Well-being

Venice beach sunset

When people think about maintaining their health, the medical world of doctors, prescriptions, clinics and hospitals often comes to mind. But health professionals, policy experts and community advocates are increasingly embracing a more comprehensive view – one that takes into account the many significant inputs that surround and shape our home and work lives, our health, and our well-being.

Social and environmental factors have a powerful influence on the quality of people’s health. Known as the “Social Determinants of Health,” these conditions shape not only the health of individuals, but the well-being and prosperity of their families, communities, and the state as a whole. When people lack adequate education, income, and economic security and face economic conditions including systemic racism and discrimination, everybody pays.


  Priority Action 1

  Priority Action 2


Creating Equal Access to Oral Health Care
800 300 Jade Magaña and Amber Bolden

Four-year college graduate goes back to school to upskill and contribute to community health

Inland Empire Community Organizations Combat Health Disparities
750 300 Amber Bolden

Free doula services provided to Riverside residents to address significant disparities in maternal wellness

Will we have enough health care workers to care for our aging population?
580 200 Van Ton-Quinlivan

California will need almost 450,000 new workers in the “hidden health care workforce” through 2024

    Government Performance & Accountability

Dome of California State capitol

Since our launch in 2008, CA FWD has been committed to improving government performance and accountability. We believe all Californians regardless deserve state, county and local governments that works for them. 

We have had a successful track record of proposing, endorsing and promoting a variety of reforms that have positively impacted the residents of California. Learn more here.

   Justice System Change Initiative (JSCI)

In 2014, CA FWD launched the Justice System Change Initiative (JSCI) to help counties transform their incarceration practices to better advocate for public safety and equity while making government more efficient and accountable. JSCI has conducted Jail Utilization Studies (JUS) in five counties – Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Cruz, El Dorado and Merced. Each county’s goal was to address the issue of lowering their jail populations while at the same time not compromising public safety.


Reading to their children helps incarcerated parents maintain a powerful connection
610 200 Nadine Ono

Program allows parents in San Bernardino jails to record themselves reading books and sharing personal messages

Want to get more involved lending your time and talent to creating solutions and policies that move the state forward? Let us know by emailing or via our contact form.