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Program Areas

The Foundation’s mission is expressed in two current program areas: English Learners and the First Amendment. We are in a learning phase right now and making investments to help us determine a longer term strategy.   

First Amendment protections on free speech, expression, and a free press.

First Amendment

In its exploratory phase to embark on a major First Amendment strategy, the James B. McClatchy Foundation launched the LIFT Initiative as a grant making pilot to advance awareness of and engagement with the First Amendment as it relates to free speech, freedom of expression, and a free press in Central Valley communities.

Through a listening journey with communities, we partner with Central Valley organizations to uncover the core support needed to engage in First Amendment freedoms and sustain a vibrant civic life. What surfaced is a vivid civic engagement ecosystem of connected partners ranging from community organizers, civic educators and journalists to First Amendment advocates. Collectively, they create a blueprint for how to successfully uplift the First Amendment in the Central Valley. As the LIFT pilot evolves into a longer-term strategy, we embrace opportunities to safeguard local news and amplify community voices that represent the future of the Central Valley.

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Building Brilliant Futures for English Learners


The James B. McClatchy Foundation has awarded grants to school districts in the Central Valley since 2009 with the primary purpose of advancing the academic achievement of the Valley’s English Learners.  In 2017, JBMF (then the Central Valley Foundation) formed the English Learner Advisory Group in order to identify potential high impact grantmaking opportunities for English Learners in the Central Valley. One such opportunity was improving the quality of and increasing access to prekindergarten programs. As a result, the “Growing Strong Learners” initiative launched in 2018.   

The approach of the Growing Strong Learners initiative is asset-based, and prioritizes home language and culture, as well as English acquisition.  In this vein, JBMF supports school systems, programs, and partners as they leverage the strengths of the Valley’s diverse learners and their families. The initiative’s goal is that all Dual Language Learners in the Central Valley enter Kindergarten at the same level or beyond that of their native English-speaking peers and are supported by lasting structures that ensure they thrive throughout their educational journeys.

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