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"A democracy is never on cruise control - it needs guidance that is wise, strong, farsighted, fair-minded and concerned for the welfare of everyone. It requires leadership from citizens who have the general welfare at heart, rather than control by the special interest groups that dominate so many issues."

James B. McClatchy, 2001

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.

First Amendment

Why It is Important

The James B. McClatchy Foundation envisions communities across the Central Valley thriving in all facets of civic life — from organizing their churches and neighborhoods — to showing up at city council or school board meetings, to creating more local news outlets to uplift voices in the home language of residents.

It is with the First Amendment freedoms of speech, and expression, and a free press, the LIFT Initiative strives to support and activate civic engagement in the Central Valley through examples such as:

  • Local Journalism and Community Media: Local news, a core tenet of our democracy, is declining. Can we preserve and innovate newsrooms in the Central Valley and support new media outlets forming in response to local news deserts? How can we lift up community voices and intentionally create a diverse pipeline of journalists and stories?
  • Media Literacy and Civic Education: Informed and engaged communities are necessary for equitable civic engagement. Are students and families familiar with their rights as residents? How can we support local communities to exercise their First Amendment freedoms?
  • Civic Leadership: Representation matters where decisions are made. With existing efforts to build leaders that represent Central Valley communities, what does it look like to create more pathways for young leaders, parents, and community members to be part of decision-making and local issues that impact their lives?


First Amendment

What We Do

Through an overall theme of community capacity building, the LIFT Initiative partners with Central Valley communities to support three broad strategic pillars:

  • Pillar 1: LIFTing Local Voices partners with community-based media labs to preserve and innovate local newsrooms and train diverse pipelines of journalists representing the Central Valley. The Foundation sees these partnerships as a learning tool to gain knowledge about the powerful impact of deeply embedded local community-driven journalism.
  • Pillar 2: LIFTing Inclusive Partnerships partners with nonprofits to foster inclusive collaborations that aim to address pertinent local issues and strengthen under-resourced communities. View the partner press release.
  • Pillar 3: LIFTing Organizational Power seeks to identify core operational capacity needs of emerging leaders who are creating new initiatives and narratives to empower a vibrant civic life in the Central Valley.
First Amendment

LIFTing Local Leaders

Lifting Local Leaders is JBMF’s storytelling series that profiles Central Valley leaders. Their thoughts, perspectives, vision, and wisdom were collected through interviews using the StoryEngine methodology to create beautiful and personal narratives. Read more about this in our blog. We believe in the power of sharing stories to not only highlight the work of organizers and advocates but to act as a vehicle to identify important issues communities are facing in the heart of California. Read the first seven stories HERE.