Valley Vision 2016 Impact Review

Thursday, January 12, 2017
Resource Type: 
Summary Sheet

Valley Vision is passionate about improving people’s lives.  Yet many of the biggest challenges people face — landing a great paying job, getting healthcare, or putting good food on the table — take the efforts of many people and many organizations working together.  Valley Vision serves as a catalyst for our region, helping people and groups come together to solve complex economic, environmental and social problems.  At the close of 2016, we took stock of the results we achieved over the past year thanks to the aligned efforts of hundreds of partners, leaders, and clients all across Northern California.  We’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together, and stand ready to do more in 2017. 

At the close of 2016, we took stock of the results we achieved over the past year thanks to the aligned efforts of hundreds of partners, leaders, and clients all across Northern California.  We’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together, and stand ready to do more in 2017. 

“We are not afraid of change in the face of adversity. Valley Vision believes that true leadership is embedded in the willingness to tackle the hard stuff with an appreciation that we each are part of something larger than ourselves.” – Bill Mueller, chief executive

Impact Review 2016

In everything we do, we strive to do what matters; something that makes a measurable difference in the lives of people living in and around California’s Capital Region. In 2016 we worked with a wide array of partners, investors and policy makers to create healthier communities for those living in disadvantaged neighborhoods, increase access to food for families who too often go hungry, improve air quality and reduce carbon waste, and align education and job training with the needs of today’s employers facing an uncharted mobile, high-tech, and changing global economy.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the most impactful changes that occurred in 2016 as a result of our work.

Clean Economy

OUR IMPACT: Energy savings.

WHAT WE DID: Valley Vision helped communities in the North San Joaquin Valley develop strategies to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions to improve public health, create green jobs, and improve air quality. This work is especially crucial for small cities that have limited resources to be able to convert GHG Inventories into action that meets state mandated goals. Through the Green Communities Initiative, Valley Vision assisted small businesses and municipalities in achieving over 3 million KwH of energy savings, and aided 14 local municipalities in assessing the efficacy of Energy Action Planning in their jurisdictions.

WHY IT MATTERS: With an increasing population and energy demand, finding ways to save Kilowatt Hours and lower energy bills for customers is crucial. The San Joaquin Valley was one of the hardest hit regions post-recession. Cash-strapped towns in the Valley need to tackle the state’s climate change goals from every angle.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT TODAY THAN A YEAR AGO: The Central Valley used 1 million+ fewer Kilowatt Hours of energy than the previous year. The community now also has a deeper understanding of and a plan for how to reduce energy use and improve efficiency that will save taxpayers’ money.

OUR IMPACT: Improved air quality.

WHAT WE DID: Valley Vision is driving regional collaboration around solutions for meeting air quality objectives that protect public health and promote economic growth. We’ve been involved in efforts to clean the air for more than a decade now through the Cleaner Air Partnership, working to identify and agree on new ways to reduce pollution that considers long-term population growth projections, and achieve widespread, local implementation of jobs-friendly activities that improve the region's air quality while accommodating growth.

WHY IT MATTERS: In today’s political environment, a collaborative effort between business, health, and environmental organizations will create more permanent changes than a stand-alone solution championed by a single sector. Failing to meet our “budget” for smog and soot set by the federal and state government also carries big economic consequences, including the risk of losing hundreds of millions in federal transportation funding and additional fees on businesses.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT TODAY THAN A YEAR AGO: Air quality attainment is a long-view effort. We have made huge strides over the past 25 years in reducing air pollution through collaborative efforts. Even with 50 percent population growth over that time, NOx emissions have gone down by 66 percent since 1990. And the Sacramento region is on target for meeting the national ambient air quality standards as early as 2019. However, clean air standards continue to tighten and the region’s population, traffic, and businesses continue to grow. Smart regulations, effective measurement, and wise investments in technology will make the difference.

OUR IMPACT: Food waste reduction.

WHAT WE DID: The Biomass Technical Advisory Group (BTAG) that Valley Vision co-chairs, built and now manages a coalition of stakeholders and experts who developed priorities and justification for funding needs, and is advocating that Solid Waste Authority and SMUD dedicate funds to support technical assistance programs for food waste collection. Ultimately this will divert food from landfills and reduce GHG emissions in the region while also supporting economic development and innovation for clean energy companies.

WHY IT MATTERS: As the Farm-to-Fork Capital of the nation, food production is critically important to the Capital Region’s way of life and economy. Valley Vision has a long history working on a variety of food system initiatives, and is known as a regional leader in food, agriculture and health systems. Our initiatives focus on pioneering innovations to make food and ag sustainable, healthy, productive and accessible.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT TODAY THAN A YEAR AGO: BTAG leveraged $250K to support food waste collection and recycling across Sacramento County. Our region is now better prepared and has increased capacity to divert food waste from landfills to recycling centers, supporting clean energy companies and decreasing GHG emissions.

21st Century Jobs

OUR IMPACT: Student success and workforce readiness.

WHAT WE DID: Valley Vision helped implement a new structure and national model that unites cross-sector stakeholders, maximizes multiple resources, and leverages broad support around a common vision to ensure that our region’s young people are adequately prepared for college and career. This new collaborative approach is being carried out through Align Capital Region (ACR).

WHY IT MATTERS: To maintain a vibrant and prosperous economy, it is imperative that our region has a talented workforce — educated, trained and ready for emerging opportunities in the 21st century economy. The Capital Region has a tremendous challenge when faced with advancing its college and career readiness objectives, workforce development initiatives, and overall regional prosperity goals. In our seven county region (El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba), the high school graduation rate is 81.7%, yet only 43% of graduating seniors meet the University of California or California State University course requirements for admission.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT TODAY THAN A YEAR AGO: Today there exists a new central entity—Align Capital Region—that has taken ownership of and is aligning college and career readiness efforts across a very diverse set of stakeholders.  ACR is building the systems to allow teachers, administrators, business leaders, and school districts to be more efficient, more effective, and more innovative. Students will be better prepared to succeed in college or in a career.

OUR IMPACT: Closing a critical skills gap.

WHAT WE DID: Valley Vision recently updated a 2012 Next Economy analysis of the region’s six high-growth clusters to understand today’s workforce growth trends, high priority occupational demand, skills gaps, and educational resources. The result, combined with broad community input on leading priorities, is a first-ever Regional Workforce Action Plan.

WHY IT MATTERS: The region has a job-skills mismatch that will worsen as baby boomers retire. Addressing high priority skills gaps through delivery of demand-driven education and training will give companies the competitive advantages they need in the global marketplace, while enabling workers to attain a living wage and pathways to opportunities. The Workforce Action Plan is centered on employer engagement in career awareness, developing a pipeline of skilled workers and educators, and alignment and advancement of life-changing internships, mentorships and apprenticeships.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT TODAY THAN A YEAR AGO: The Action Plan sets a clear path to address occupational needs and skills gaps for employers and workers both to thrive. The region’s workforce development boards and community colleges have adopted this framework for their workforce and education investments and curriculum. The new Community College Strong Workforce Program investments and Career Technical Education are aligned with Action Plan implementation. There is strong collaboration among education and workforce development partners and a defined process for new partners and strategies that engage employers in workforce strategies.


OUR IMPACT: Increased digital literacy.

WHAT WE DID: Valley Vision has been facilitating the School to Home Neighborhood Transformation program at Leataata Floyd Elementary (LFE) School in Sacramento, the most underperforming school in the school district. The work involves development of a Connected Community Plan to more fully support students and families, while working with school, city and county leaders, and community partners. School2Home focuses on residents living in the Sacramento’s two largest public housing projects with chronic levels of poverty and is one of 31 school pilots statewide being funded by the California Emerging Technology Fund. Our work is giving students and families in these disadvantaged communities the resources and digital literacy they need for long-term life success.  

WHY IT MATTERS: Broadband is a vital 21st century infrastructure and integration of technology into the learning environment in the early years is necessary for young students to be prepared for college and career. But it’s often difficult to achieve in schools in low-income or poverty stricken areas. School2Home opens up an “opportunity” pathway for students and families, on and off campus, by providing access to the tools, knowledge and resources needed to become digitally literate. The project leverages the area’s Promise Zone designation.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT TODAY THAN A YEAR AGO: LFE teachers now have the training and tools needed to integrate technology into daily learning, and more than 60 young children have increased their digital skills. Additionally, roughly 50 percent of the parents have also received technology training. The program’s success has been so evident that it is now being expanded to four grade levels. LFE plans to take the program school-wide with a new technology grant. And the school district, County Board of Supervisors and city leaders have all signed a partnership commitment and have dedicated more resources to the school and community.

Healthy Communities

OUR IMPACT: Reduced health disparities.

WHAT WE DID: Valley Vision has conducted Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs) for hospital systems in the Greater Sacramento Region for 10 years. CHNAs involve measuring and understanding the health status and priority health needs of the medically underserved, low income and minority populations.  CHNAs provide valuable information for hospitals, local officials and community partners by identifying the significant health issues in their service areas.  These assessments also highlight the associated drivers behind health disparities and the services that are most needed to improve health conditions. The 2016 CHNA process involved a collaborative effort representing 16 hospital services areas across six counties. The research Valley Vision provided is helping hospitals focus their business and community investments in priority areas to create stronger, healthier communities for all.

WHY IT MATTERS: To make the region the nation’s top livable community, all residents must first have basic needs met. This work is important because CHNAs help health providers understand and address the conditions, behaviors, socioeconomic and environmental factors that drive health.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT TODAY THAN A YEAR AGO: Local hospitals now have access to extensive qualitative and quantitative data on the health conditions and disparities across the Sacramento region. The data is being used to shape policy and programming decisions for health improvements and to target services within communities where it is most challenging for residents to access primary and mental healthcare, healthy foods, safe places to be active, a good education system and affordable housing.

Food + Ag Economy

OUR IMPACT: Job growth.

WHAT WE DID: Through federal funding Valley Vision is implementing the Central Valley Ag Plus Food and Beverage Manufacturing Consortium Action Plan that will strengthen the manufacturing ecosystem and accelerate business and job growth. The Consortium is one of only four federally designated food and beverage regions of 24 nationally that leverages federal economic development investments. Workforce strategies address critical skills gaps in food processing and are helping to prepare the next generation of farmers in order to keep the sector viable for generations to come.

WHY IT MATTERS: Our regional Food and Ag cluster generates more than $7 billion in economic impact for the region and is one of the top economic drivers of our regional economy. But our food and ag economy also faces challenges. By strengthening the ecosystem and facilitating a coordinated regional food system agenda, our farmers, ranchers, food economy entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and those in distribution and support industries can expand and thrive. The focus on growing our local food system also involves increasing levels of consumption of locally grown foods, which today stands at only two percent. Increasing local food procurement, creating new market distribution channels and infrastructure allows us to better address food insecurity at the community level by getting more locally grown foods to schools and communities.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT TODAY THAN A YEAR AGO: Valley Vision leads a broad portfolio of food and ag projects which has elevated the profile of the food and ag economy over the past decade. Regional expertise and cross-sector collaboration has increased locally and new national and federal agency partners are providing increased levels of support to the region. Through a range of capacity assistance to nonprofits and businesses, Valley Vision has increased attention to the region’s food and ag assets. This has generated new resources to connect farmers and food and ag businesses with financing resources, helped identify critical workforce skills gaps across the sector, and lead to new certified apprenticeship programs that introduce and prepare our next generation of farmers.

OUR IMPACT: Reduced hunger.

WHAT WE DID: Valley Vision invested in an innovative online food hub called CropMobster that connects those who have food surplus with those who need it. Valley Vision introduced CropMobster-Sacramento to change the way we share, distribute and access food. It's a revolutionary way to link traders and sellers from local farms, food businesses, restaurants, hunger relief organizations and even gardening enthusiasts so that good food gets in the hands of those who need and want it, instead of going to landfills. The goal is to reduce food waste both on-farm and after, increase the amount of food making its way into our local food system, support farmers and ranchers, increase health and nutrition across our communities, and expand the region’s reputation as an innovator in food and agricultural practices. 

WHY IT MATTERS: The region’s food and agriculture system is one of the most prized in the world, yet one in six residents in Sacramento County is food insecure. At the same time, it’s estimated that as much as 40 percent of all food produced in the U.S. winds up as waste. This equals 133 billion pounds and $161 billion in food value. CropMobster offers an accessible and practical solution to closing the gap between unnecessary hunger and preventable food waste. Opening up valuable connections across the local food system benefits farms, food banks, restaurants, food businesses, and local residents alike. It also helps grow local farming businesses, alleviates food insecurity across our communities, reduces food waste headed for landfills, and ultimately helps bolster our region's essential food economy.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT TODAY THAN A YEAR AGO: Today there exists a free online community easily accessible to traders, sellers and residents to exchange healthy food. Since Valley Vision introduced CropMobster in June 2015, almost 600 users have utilized the platform and more than 22,000 pounds of edible food has been redirected from landfills to food banks.

Innovation + Entreprenuership

OUR IMPACT: Advance entrepreneurship and innovation.

WHAT WE DID: Innovation and entrepreneur-led economic activity is an important source of economic diversification and growth for any region. Through the Capital Region SlingShot initiative, Valley Vision is working with the region’s four workforce development boards to leverage a $1 million investment to create a stronger innovation ecosystem across six high-growth business clusters. SlingShot serves to increase the region’s capacity to innovate, while ensuring that the region's talent pool is prepared to access the opportunities available in the innovation economy.

WHY IT MATTERS: Diversifying our economy by providing economic opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovation-led activities builds our reputation as a supportive community for startups to thrive. This improves our national reputation and lends to vibrancy and increased marketability. To boost the innovation environment in California's Capital region, bolster high-revenue producing employment sectors and effectively compete in a globalized, information-age economy, entrepreneurship, new startups and human capital must permeate all sectors of our economy.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT TODAY THAN A YEAR AGO: SlingShot has formalized and unified regional workforce strategies to bolster regional innovation. SlingShot also gave rise to an unprecedented partnership across the region’s four local workforce development boards that will inject $1 million in new funding to enable a nine-county geography to strengthen the support to entrepreneurs, small businesses and startups. Funding will be allocated in early 2017.


The outcomes described in this Impact Review were achieved by working collaboratively with a wide range of partners, investors, and community leaders. The broad impact is made possible because of those who are willing to commit resources to addressing important—and often thorny—issues. We are proud to have been your partner in shepherding our collective interest of making our communities even better than they are today.

  • Align Capital Region
  • Alignment USA
  • Bank of America
  • Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails
  • Burris Service Group
  • California Emerging Technology Fund
  • Central Valley Ag Plus Food and Beverage Manufacturing Consortium
  • CropMobster
  • Dignity Health
  • Golden Sierra Workforce Board
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Leataata Floyd Elementary
  • Los Rios Community College District
  • North Central Counties Consortium
  • Pacific Gas & Electric
  • Sacramento County
  • Sacramento Employment and Training Agency
  • Sacramento Metro Chamber
  • Sacramento Municipal Air Quality District
  • Sacramento Region Community Foundation
  • Sierra Health Foundation
  • SMUD
  • Solid Waste Authority
  • Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region
  • UC Davis Medical Center
  • Wal-Mart
  • Yolo County Workforce Development Board

Valley Vision is ready to steward through new and changing times.

The regional challenges we face today are more complex than ever before. As one of California’s major economic centers, we are impacted by increasing interconnectivity through movement of products, technology, people and information, as well as other global challenges such as water, climate, energy and resource constraints. Effective regional stewardship requires innovative thinking and an entrepreneurial mindset to generate creative and concrete solutions. Valley Vision brings this type of mindset to 2017.

We have and will continue to create the conditions for regional partners and influencers to come together, design collaborative approaches to addressing our biggest challenges, and championing a shared regional agenda that serves the needs of our communities.

We look forward to our work ahead in 2017—with all of you—to make our communities better, stronger and more resilient in every way.

“As our regional economy grows, we need to make sure we are creating opportunity and making investments that help everyone succeed,” – Bill Mueller, chief executive

To advance our work in 2017, Valley Vision has shifted its business model and introduced new organizational capacities.

As stewards for the region, Valley Vision is more prepared than ever to galvanize leadership and influence in 2017 through a new board-directed Innovation Fund, opinion research to guide important decision-making, and taking stands that shine a light on priority issues deserving attention.

Taking public stands on carefully selected social and policy issues was inaugurated in a landmark action in September when Valley Vision’s board committed to focus on reducing unacceptable levels of economic insecurity and social disparities.

An urban jobs strategy was unanimously adopted by the board of directors and Valley Vision is now committed to reduce economic insecurity in the Capital Region over the next 10 years based on key data gleaned from the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessments. This place-based initiative will address rising urban poverty primarily in disadvantaged communities where concentrated poverty is highest.

A board-directed Innovation Fund was established that will now allocate resources toward important activities deserving attention, but that may have no ready sponsor.

Public opinion research, through a new a partnership with Sacramento State’s Institute for Social Research (ISR), will uncover community-level views about the regional issues that trouble them most. The information will be used to draw attention and needed action to challenges and trends that may not otherwise be detected.

Improving Transit in the region is recognized as exceedingly important.  Valley Vision will work closely with Sacramento Regional Transit (the largest of 33 transit providers in the six-county region) to support RT in carrying out a change agenda to improve system safety, reliability and service levels. 

An “Epic Trail” is a landmark regional asset within reach. Valley Vision will pursue widespread interest in connecting the El Dorado County trail system to the American River Bike Trail, with additional connections into Davis and beyond.  The result would be a contiguous 100-mile-long, multi-use trail that would be “epic” in length and quality, providing a distinct athletic, health, and marketing asset to the region.

Geographic expansion into San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties will continue in the coming year. Valley Vision opened a satellite office in Stockton in early 2016. The Huddle office is driving green jobs initiatives, energy reduction strategies, and designing job-growth action plans for the food and ag sector across the Central Valley.