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The Great Valley Center: Connect. Inspire. Act.

Updates & Highlights

November 2011

Autumn is a time of change. The green colors of summer give way to the yellows, reds and browns of fall. The days grow shorter and the nights turn colder. Change, while at times unsettling, can also bring with it wonderful new opportunities.  
The Great Valley team is excited to bring you the first edition of our new monthly e-newsletter. The purpose is to provide you with brief information on current GVC programs, as well as bring you news, accomplishments and highlights from around the Central Valley. We know so many of you are working hard to support our Great Valley and we want to know what is going on in your community that is impacting the region.  Please share noteworthy programs, accomplishments and other news from your organization. Together let us tackle the valley’s challenges and celebrate the region’s achievements.                                            
-- Dejeune Shelton, Executive Director


GVC Program Updates

California Connects seeks community partnerships:
The CA Connects program is targeted at increasing Internet use for Californians not yet connected. The Great Valley Center is responsible for hiring, preparing and equipping bilingual community trainers in 18 counties. Nine trainers are actively holding trainings, and trainers are being recruited in the other counties. The success of this program is dependent upon leveraging existing resources in each county and establishing mutually beneficial partnerships. For example, CA Connects has developed a strong partnership with CASA del Rio and the Riverbank Unified School District and is now offering Internet classes in labs at two school campuses in Riverbank - click here to read more

We are seeking additional community agencies, educational institutions and governmental organizations to partner with in this initiative. Partnership may consist of providing a location with computers for holding trainings, helping reach targeted audiences or publicizing the digital literacy training opportunities. For more information on CA Connects community partnerships contact Desiree Holden, Program Manager, at or (209) 522-5103 x136.
American Leadership Forum – Great Valley Chapter selecting 2012 class:
Selection is underway for the 2012 class of ALF - Great Valley Chapter!  Decision makers in businesses, education, elected office and heads of community organizations will have the opportunity to build a network and work together to address the challenges their communities are facing in a new way, strengthened by bonds of friendship, trust, and respect for one another.

The ALF program is specifically designed to prepare key leaders across all sectors – public, private, and nonprofit – to collaborate on issues of importance to the community and to develop a leadership network.  Classes will begin in June of 2012 and the year-long course will run through May of 2013. For more ALF information contact Dejeune Shelton, Executive Director, or (209) 522-5103 x120.

Child abuse prevention program underway:
The Child Abuse Protection and Treatment Act (CAPTA) federal grant program is targeted at Spanish speaking parents within Merced County.  Curriculum has been developed and is being used by three Merced schools.  Additional schools are being sought to adopt the program curriculum. Videos in both English and Spanish are also being produced. For more information contact Jami Westerverlt, Senior Program Manager, at or (209) 522-5103 x122.
Environmental best practices to be highlighted in report:
Environmental success stories in the Central Valley will be highlighted as part of a report prepared by the Great Valley Center for publication to the GVC website. The report will include environmental indicator information and will spotlight select programs in the valley that have shown a positive impact or are working successfully to improve the valley’s environment in the areas of air, climate, habitat, water, land use and recycling.  Sharing examples of successful programs is targeted towards stimulating similar “best practices” that can be adopted or adapted in other valley communities.  Does your organization have an environmental success story to share?  Contact Linda Hoile, Program Manager, or (209) 522-5103 x140.
Green Communities program helps local governments measure emissions:
With the successful completion of ten greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories in Stanislaus and Merced Counties as of August, the Great Valley Center is actively engaging local governments in San Joaquin County, Merced County, and west Kern County to offer GHG inventory assistance. Green Communities is a partnership between the Great Valley Center, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA. The program provides funding for GVC staff and trained interns to develop “carbon footprint” measurements for each local government participant as a starting-point for reducing GHG emissions in future operations.

Nine of the local governments from Stanislaus County that partnered with the GVC during this first round of the Green Communities Program have since obtained funding through Proposition 84 to continue with GHG emission reduction efforts at a regional level.  To learn more about the Green Communities program contact Bryce Dias, Program Associate, at or (209) 522-5103 x112.
National Parks Institute scheduled for April 2012:
Twenty-five executives in park and protected area management from around the world will convene for the third National Parks Institute Executive Leadership Seminar to be held April 17 – 28, 2012.  “Leading Strategic Change” is the theme of this 12-day intensive seminar on leadership, innovation, and organizational renewal. The course will begin at the Institute at the Golden Gate in San Francisco, proceed to UC Merced, and finish in Yosemite National Park. The Great Valley Center is one of the organizations partnering with UC Merced on this exciting opportunity.  More information on the National Parks Institute is available by contacting Jami Westerverlt, Senior Program Manager, at or (209) 522-5103 x122.
Circle members invited:
The Great Valley Center is seeking renewals and new membership for the President’s Circle and other donor circles.  GVC donors contributing an annual gift of $5,000 or more are recognized as members of the President’s Circle, and those giving $1,000 are recognized as members of the Oak Circle.  Looking to leverage your power to make a positive difference in our valley? This is the perfect opportunity!  Businesses, individuals and organizations are invited to join a GVC circle and the year-end timing is good for receiving a tax break.

Of course, when you make a contribution in any amount to the Great Valley Center, please know that it will be used to make the most impact possible for this great valley we all call home!  For more information contact Dejeune Shelton, Executive Director, or (209) 522-5103 x120.


Valley Highlights

New video from California Partnership for SJV:
The California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley has released a new video
highlighting the work of the Valley Legacy Grant, which included a partnership with the Great Valley Center to provide computer technology instruction that prepared job seekers for work in Stockton, Pixley and Delano.

Economic development funds head to rural cities:
The California Department of Housing and Community Development is processing over $3 million in federal funds to help smaller California cities and counties with economic development. Several Central Valley communities will share in the money: Avenal; Colusa; Corcoran; Farmersville; Firebaugh; Lindsay; Maricopa; Oroville; Parlier; Wasco; Weed; West Sacramento; Williams; Willows, plus Butte County, Kings County, and Tulare County. Funds are used for planning and economic development activities.
Comcast provides Internet Essentials program in the Central Valley:
Comcast is rolling out the
Internet Essentials program in the Central Valley, offering low-income families in its service territory $10/month Internet connections and access to $150 computers.  Any family with at least one child who qualifies for the free lunch program at public schools can subscribe to a low-speed (1.5Mbps) Comcast Internet connection for $9.95 a month.  Comcast guarantees that it won't raise the price and offers the plan without equipment rental or activation fees.  Subscribers also cannot have "an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment," and they can't have had Comcast Internet in the last 90 days.  Comcast has agreed to sign up families to the program for at least three years, and it also promises to provide free Internet and computer training to those who need it.
Merced County jail gains solar power:
Merced County has “switched on” a 1.4 megawatt solar array to power the county’s Merced Correctional facilities in El Nido.  The county contracted with Siemens Industry Inc., Clean Energy Projects to deliver the solar photovoltaic system.  It is designed to provide approximately 70 percent of the facilities’ peak electricity consumption.  They expect more than $300,000 in equivalent electricity savings every year and a net positive cash flow is projected to reach
nearly $9 million over 25 years.  The system’s construction is being paid for by Tobacco Securitization funds designated for capital improvements at county facilities.
Valley teacher and student receive national FFA awards:
Beth Knapp, co-chair of the agriculture department at Atwater High School, was named the Agriscience Teacher of the Year, and Mary Steves, a senior at Escalon High School, was named Agriscience Student of the Year at the 84th National Future Farmers of America Convention held in October in Indianapolis.  Under Knapp's leadership the ag department has grown to serve over 800 students and won state championships in horse judging in 2010 and in agronomy in 2011.  Steves conducted research comparing the immune responses of Barbados Blackbelly hair sheep and Suffolk crossbred sheep to gastrointestinal nematodes.  The National FFA Agriscience Student of the Year program recognizes high school students who, through scientific research and reasoning, find creative solutions to challenges within the field of agriculture.

On The Calendar

Aricultural Business Management Conference:
November 10, 8:15 a.m., Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, downtown Fresno. A keynote luncheon address will be presented by Karen Ross, secretary of the Department of Food and Agriculture. The half-day event will also feature experts in water storage and delivery, immigration and labor issues, international exporting opportunities and global food production. The annual event is hosted by CSU Fresno’s Center for Agricultural Business and registration is $125.  For more information, call (559) 278-4405 or visit

UC Merced Center on Health Disparities Lecture:
November 10, 6:00 p.m. (5:30 for reception with refreshments), Mercy Medical Center Merced, Classrooms C & D, free – public welcome.  Dr. Rudy Ortiz, UC Merced professor, will speak on Ethnic & Gender Disparities in Adolescent Obesity & Physical Activity Levels in Merced County: Impact on Blood Pressure.

Kern County 5th Annual Energy Summit:
November 16, 7:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center. Mark Jaccard, Nobel Peace Prize recipient for his work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, will offer a keynote address on “Partnering for the Future in Energy.”  A variety of other presenters from energy-related and utility fields are also scheduled.  Registration is available online at by clicking the green “Energy Summit 2011” button.

Great Valley Center Board Meeting:
November 17, 12 noon – 2 p.m., GVC Board Room, 201 Needham Street in Modesto.

Links of Interest

California adopts cap-and-trade system, serves as greenhouse guinea pig
Foreclosure rates decline across Valley

Stanislaus population growing faster than cities

CA water plight gets lifeline from technology

$4.8 million study will fight child obesity in Central Valley
Davis company gets funds to squeeze more oil from plants

CSU Fresno study documents health consequences of Valley air pollution
Dollars & Sense:  Analysis of Spending and Revenue Patterns to Inform Fiscal Planning for California Higher Education

San Joaquin Regional Transit District gets $8.5 million grant

UC Davis and BGI announce partnership to establish genome center in Sacramento
Latino college enrollment skyrockets, but will upward mobility follow?

Valley indicator increase points to waning economic growth