Cradled in Silicon Valley, San Jose is the 10th largest city in the nation and an epicenter of innovation, opportunity, and wealth. San Jose also boasts a rich connection to its culture, history, and diversity. Consider San Jose’s rich history in grassroots organizing, including community activism by leaders like Cesar Chavez and Sophia Mendoza, who led movements for farmworker rights, hospital access, and other local priorities that served as a model for future organizing. Yet stark racial and economic inequities persist in San Jose, leaving a significant portion of residents unhoused, food insecure, feeling unsafe with police, and living in poverty. Among those most affected are Black, Latinx, and working-class residents as well as those living in historically disenfranchised neighborhoods like the East Side.
To address these inequities, we launched our current local grantmaking strategy in 2019 with the goal of building resident power in San Jose to change policies and systems and ultimately improve lives and opportunities. We do not prioritize specific issues or approaches, but rather walk alongside our community partners and work to lift up their self-identified priorities. We focus on residents who have been historically marginalized from decision-making, including immigrants, BIPOC residents, residents from low-income households, and young people. Through the redistribution of wealth and power, we ultimately envision a more economically and racially just San Jose.
With input from San Jose community leaders, we identified three strategies for building resident power in San Jose: