The City of Fresno ranked 59th out of California’s largest 59 cities for racial and economic disparity according to the Urban Institute’s 2018 report on economic mobility. That’s why a coalition of community leaders launched the Fresno DRIVE (Developing the Region’s Inclusive a Vibrant Economy) Initiative in 2019 to address the systemic inequities that face the region.
On this week’s PolicyWise podcast (Episode 15), Demetria Wack and Michael Wiafe welcome Ashley Swearengin, CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation, and Dr. Tania Pacheco-Werner, co-director at the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at California State University, Fresno. They discuss the genesis of the DRIVE Initiative and what it hopes to achieve. The draft plan of the DRIVE Initiative was unveiled at the 2019 California Economic Summit hosted in Fresno.
“It’s really about economic development, but also recognizing that we have to change the way we think about racism in relationship to the economy, if we’re going to get anywhere and address this head on,” said Dr. Pacheco-Werner.
“It means dealing with individual mindsets that have stood against this kind of change for a long time in Fresno and institutional barriers,” added Swearengin, who is also vice chair of the CA FWD Leadership Council. “We are awakening our senses to this place and where those barriers are.”