CA FWD’s commitment to creating inclusive and sustainable growth is driven by supporting interrelated policy action areas that help all Californians prosper. From housing for all, to ecosystems and climate resiliency, these diverse areas are inextricably linked.

The policy priorities listed below are advanced in the coming year with the strength of our collaborative approach, including the California Stewardship Network, the California Economic Summit network and work groups, and our Young Leaders Advisory Council — and we measure our progress with the California Dream Index.

To stay up-to-date on the Action Areas below and receive our weekly CA FWD Newsletter, sign up today!

Priority Actions

For 2023, California Forward has identified the following priority actions.

    Housing for All

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, has risen to this challenge with ambitious policy initiatives and strategic alliances with triple-bottom-line economic development organizations.

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


Building wealth through housing entrepreneurship and supporting small BIPOC developers

2023 Priorities

Support and strengthen local capacity to maximize participation in middle density development

Advocate for state-level solutions and legislation that enables middle density development

Advance the creation of a BIPOC developer fund to add capacity and reduce barriers for small-scale developers of color


The 2024 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity is Here!
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Announcing the launch of the 2024 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity, which outlines the important work we and our partners are helping advance this year.

Aerial photo of Long Beach, CA
How California’s Tax System Puts Up Barriers to New Housing
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CA FWD report details the dilemma resulting in much less new housing in L.A. County’s Gateway Cities

Working to Build Affordable Housing for Farmworker Families and Beyond
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The Chavez Foundation includes a team leading efforts to build housing in four western states

Making the Space to Talk Solutions to Homelessness in Tuolumne County
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Dana Butow works to bring the public into conversations about solutions to homelessness in the rural county

    Ecosystems & Climate Resiliency


Water and land are the most foundational and critical resources on the planet. Consecutive years of drought, flooding, and destructive wildfires demonstrate the varied impacts of climate change and the urgent need for deliberate, impactful action.


Cultivating energy strategies that lead California towards an inclusive, net zero economy

2023 Priorities

CA FWD is committed to fostering and supporting regions-up collaboration and decision-making on energy transition policies focused on the following priorities that arose from our energy call to action and input from stakeholders who attended the 2022 California Economic Summit:

We Must Act Urgently & Carefully: California must more rapidly plan, permit and build new energy generation and transmission projects, while strategically calibrating its actions to ensure the energy system it creates is sustainable, reliable, affordable and equitable.

We Must Increase Renewable Energy Production & Be Technology Agnostic: California needs an energy approach that embraces the full range of carbon-free sources of energy and reinvests in our domestic manufacturing sector to support their deployment.

We Must Address Baseload Energy Today & For the Future: California needs a reliable grid, which will require a combination of dramatically increasing battery/long-duration energy storage systems, accelerating the deployment of geothermal power, reconsidering nuclear energy and/or a robust regional transmission grid.

We Must Invest in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) & Non-Carbon Energies: An array of carbon capture technologies will help us mitigate emissions from the imperfect-but-necessary energies/industries we still need today as we work to develop a diverse portfolio of zero-carbon energy sources for the future.

We Must Show Leadership & Share the Decision-Making: State policymakers and regulators have to make some hard choices and trade-offs and must engage regional collaboratives and community-driven planning to equitably drive this change.


Fostering a more equitable, prosperous and climate-resilient future

2023 Priorities

Collaborate across action areas to embed climate and equity as fundamental elements of each decision we make about economic systems like land use, housing, transportation, career pathways, natural resource management and community investment

Promote and raise awareness of collaboration across climate and economic development stakeholders and across state and federal economic and climate programs


Meeting climate goals by reducing wildfire risk and supporting rural communities

2023 Priorities

Establish an evidence-driven basis for ensuring California invests in wildfire and forest resilience solutions that match the size and scale of the crisis

Support the establishment and implementation of a statewide biomass utilization strategy to advance forest health and scale up a bio-economy

Broaden outreach and coalition building across diverse communities, sectors and lands to advance solutions, including viable bio-based and wood products industries


The 2024 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity is Here!
1024 576 CA FWD

Announcing the launch of the 2024 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity, which outlines the important work we and our partners are helping advance this year.

Rescuing Left-behind Produce for Food-insecure Families in the Coachella Valley
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Hidden Harvest creates a win-win for low-income communities and farmworkers paid to harvest unwanted crops

Embedding Climate Across Summit Priorities and Actions
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New California Economic Summit work group aims to build regional resilience to climate impacts

Ffirefighters from Stockton, Calif., put out flames off of Hidden Valley Rd.
Mobilizing to Address California’s Wildfire Crisis
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With an estimated 4.5 million homes near wildfire danger zones, solutions that take on the crisis are growing more critical

    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.


Supporting California’s unique demographics through inter-regional information sharing and advocacy

2023 Priorities

Strengthen and support a regions-based Community of Practice to share learnings and generate promising practices

Encourage state alignment of other resources and programs towards CERF regions to support regional inclusive economic strategy implementation

Create opportunities and support for learning and alignment within regions

Create spaces for philanthropic engagement and support


Ensuring California’s creative communities and cultural heritage thrive

2023 Priorities

Strengthen a creative workforce and industry grounded in equity

  • Build out a model for a statewide pilot program to support creative workforce development and pathways into high paying jobs and high road training partnerships
  • Scale regional creative workforce development initiatives to increase racial diversity representation while setting an entry-level living wage
  • Develop partnerships with local workforce boards

Prioritize the creative economy as a leading industry in California

  • Build out a model for a statewide pilot program to support a Creative Economy planning group and a multi-agency strategic plan to envision the future of the creative economy for California
  • Increase public investment in arts and culture

Integrate arts and culture into local community and economic development strategies

  • Promote arts and culture as partners to community and economic development organizations
  • Collaborate across sectors to support arts and culture in regional economic development and infrastructure projects

Develop policies to support creative small businesses and self-employed arts workers

  • Build out a model for a statewide creative entrepreneurship academy and cross-sector collaboration on unemployment and safety net solutions to support independent arts workers


Building a supportive ecosystem for the state’s entrepreneurs and small business owners

2023 Priorities

Support a small business ecosystem grounded in equity by:

  • Advancing solutions to capital access barriers and other persistent systemic inequities faced by women and POC owned small businesses, as outlined in the group’s 2021 framework document
  • Integrating small business voices into regional economic development and planning processes

Identify barriers to equitable small business participation in the state’s economy and leverage state policy and regional practice to foster greater inclusion


Strengthening California’s manufacturing ecosystem and regional economies through a unified, strategic approach

Following a highly productive associated event at the 2022 California Economic Summit, the Advancing Manufacturing work group has been newly relaunched to actively promote the policy priorities below in the year ahead.

2023 Priorities

Form a statewide Manufacturing Council to advise state leaders and coordinate manufacturing-related activities to maximize state and federal funding opportunities

Elevate the role of manufacturing in meeting the state’s decarbonization and economic development goals

Identify specific needs to best position the state’s manufacturing sector for growth (e.g., regulatory reform, funding, education and public awareness, workforce development and DEI goals, data/research)


The 2024 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity is Here!
1024 576 CA FWD

Announcing the launch of the 2024 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity, which outlines the important work we and our partners are helping advance this year.

How to Elevate Manufacturing in California’s Decarbonization and Economic Goals
1024 576 Nadine Ono

This year’s California Economic Summit marks the return of the Advancing Manufacturing work group and its priorities

The Effort to Strengthen California’s Manufacturing Ecosystem Goes on the Road
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A critical conversation about the six key elements to maintaining a manufacturing economy is taking place around the state

    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.


Supporting equitable economic mobility through a more cohesive education and workforce system

2023 Priorities

Advocate for a systems approach to education and workforce development that emphasizes collaboration over competition

  • Further develop, advocate for and implement state policies and regional practices to support seamless transitions between education and workforce segments (early childhood, K-12, post-secondary, workforce)

Raise awareness of affordable, quality early childhood care and education as an equity and workforce issue and support efforts to reduce barriers to access


How the Number of Higher Wage Jobs Varies Across California’s Regions
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New measurement shows significant differences in who holds higher wage jobs across demographics and regions

Building a Path from Early Childhood Education to Good Paying Jobs for Californians
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A look at new efforts to better align the state’s lifelong learning system

Scholarship Powers Creation of Diverse Pipeline of Electrical Lineworkers in California
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Community engagement leader at Southern California Edison shares how her background helped her build the program

    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.


Bridging the Digital Divide

2023 Priorities

Advocate for the state and federal governments’ historic broadband investments, including SB 156, to be implemented swiftly, efficiently and equitably across California

Ensure that the needs and priorities of the regions, as advanced by the Regional Broadband Consortia and other partners, are fully reflected in state digital equity planning processes

“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.”


Moving to Action: How the Young Leaders Advisory Council is Working to Inspire Change
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CA FWD’s Young Leaders Advisory Council (YLAC) publishes their annual Call to Action!

Young girl using a laptop to participate in class via Zoom
The Digital Divide’s Impact on Youth
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The importance of broadband is one of the foundational pieces of infrastructure for 21st century California—potential policy changes lay the groundwork for closing the digital divide for good.

Closing California’s Digital Divide through Collective Action
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Although broadband access has expanded significant gaps persist across all regions

State Launches Broadband Portal and Roundtable Gatherings
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California created an online portal and series of virtual roundtables to provide information on efforts to expand broadband access

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.