* Urban Jobs Initiative

Certain urban neighborhoods in Sacramento are losing ground in economic security, which impacts the social and economic health of the region. Addressing a multi-faceted and complicated basic need systems requires a collaborative, community-wide, data-driven, systematic response that Valley Vision is uniquely equipped to deliver. That’s why Valley Vision’s Board of Directors approved a new Urban Jobs Initiative to tackle the problems associated with concentrated poverty in the region. With a 10-year time horizon, our commitment to upend economic insecurity in Sacramento’s most vulnerable neighborhoods is Valley Vision’s first self-initiated, decade-long program of work.

What is the goal?

Reduce poverty within neighborhoods that are affected by concentrated poverty.

Why is this important?

Valley Vision’s 2016 analysis of community health indicators revealed that a lack of economic security is the most pressing Basic Needs health issue in the Sacramento region. Economic security refers to an individual’s or family’s ability to maintain financial income that supports an acceptable quality of life. Concentrated poverty, or neighborhoods where more than 40 percent of the population falls below the federal poverty threshold and often refers to neighborhoods that have become racially and economically segregated from the rest of the community, affects 83,674 residents in Sacramento County. This level of poverty within a neighborhood impacts crime rates, access to housing, education and food, and limits social mobility now and for generations to come for those residents.

Through intensive Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs) that Valley conducted for 17 different hospital service areas in 2016 across the Capital Region, economic insecurity was cited in 77 percent of all interviews and focus groups. The aspects of economic insecurity that were mentioned most are those also supported by quantitative data as significant issues in our region, especially within Sacramento County.  These include:

  • Geographic disparities (or concentrations of poverty) and gentrification:  Concentrated neighborhood poverty affects everyone in the neighborhood and “shapes everything from higher crime rates to limited social mobility for the people—and especially the children—who live in these neighborhoods” (Florida, 2015).  The majority of the 21 Sacramento County census tracts that have concentrated poverty are located within the urban core of Sacramento.  This illustrates the extent to which certain urban neighborhoods are losing ground in economic security and are enveloped by concentrated poverty.
  • Working poor and un-or under-employment:  In the census tracts where there is concentrated poverty, unemployment rates range from 12-47% with an average of 23 percent unemployment within those census tracts.  This is approximately 283 percent higher than the rest of Sacramento County.  Further, incomes for lower income individuals and families are falling, while economic disparities are growing.  In 2015, California was the 6th highest state in terms of income inequality — top incomes are 40 percent higher than they were in 1980, while middle incomes are only 5 percent higher and low incomes are 19 percent lower (Public Policy Institute of CA, 2016).
  • Multigenerational cycle of poverty, including children living in poverty: Children living in poverty tend to complete less education, experience more physical and mental health issues, have poorer nutrition and have fewer job prospects (Sacramento Bee April 2015).  Of the Sacramento County census tracts that have concentrated poverty, a total of 54 percent of those residents are families with children below 18 years old.  The children in these areas of concentrated poverty likely have fewer opportunities for success in life than those not living in poverty.
  • High cost of living:  47 percent of households within the City of Sacramento are liquid asset poor, meaning they don’t have enough savings to live above the poverty line for three months.  Additionally, 14 percent of residents of City of Sacramento are unbanked. These factors reflect significant financial vulnerability that affects many residents in the urban core (United Way, 2015).

What is Valley Vision doing about it?

Through our work in health, workforce and economic development, environmental sustainability, and access to food, education and the Internet, Valley Vision has been addressing the multiple dimensions of social equity for more than 20 years. In 2016, Valley Vision conducted 17 separate Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs) across six counties in the Capital Region. The analysis of that data has given Valley Vision a unique vantage point into the most pressing health needs of our region, which points to factors such as poverty, housing, education or food access as the primary indicators that have a significant “downstream” effect on community health. 

Beginning in 2017, Valley Vision set in motion a new, systematic approach to increase opportunities for residents and investments in neighborhoods (improve the lift) and reduce burdens and improve services (decrease the drag).

The initial steps involve a complete systems change to affect near term impacts:

  • Affect system change by collaborating with community partners and leaders to guide our actions and improve alignment on goals and metrics
  • Engage with the affected neighborhoods to reflect their values in our actions and gain insights into root causes of problems and possible opportunities
  • Embark upon near-term impact projects to take action on immediate needs
  • Align Neighborhood Investments by utilizing the power of data and long-term outcomes to guide targeted neighborhood investments

What is our desired impact?

To reduce poverty in the neighborhoods that are affected by concentrated poverty by setting collaborative long term goals and metrics, increasing alignment of action, making strategic investments, and initiating projects with near-term impacts to respond to immediate needs.

How does this effort affect triple-bottom-line objectives?

Economy: The Urban Jobs Initiative is intended to improve access to job training and access to opportunities, in addition to increasing neighborhood investments. Many economic development actions do not create opportunities across all skill levels and do not reach our most vulnerable populations. This effort will strengthen the economy for all.

Environment: Many of the neighborhoods affected by concentrated poverty are also impacted by air quality and other environmental issues. Aligning investments and services can help increase capacity to address these types of issues as well. Additionally, increasing job-readiness can benefit the regional clean economy.

Equity: This initiative is primarily geared towards addressing inequity in the region. Residents of neighborhoods in concentrated poverty have fewer opportunities and often have been left behind in the economy. The Urban Jobs Initiative will address the needs of those who face barriers and lack the opportunities to reach their full potential.


This initiative was approved by the Valley Vision Board in Fall 2016 and launched in early 2017. Valley Vision adopted the Urban Jobs Initiative as a long-term (10 year +) commitment.

MUFG Union Bank, Sierra Health Foundation, SMUD