Dear friends of FIELD,
We have a lot of good news to report this month about all the goings on at FIELD. We’re busy planning for 2024 and beyond and how we can make an even bigger impact for the community we serve.
First, we’re delighted to announce that we’ve been approved to receive up to $1.5 million for an Early Childhood Education Infrastructure Grant from the California Dept. of Social Services that will help our students fill the enormous childcare gap in the state. The grant was just announced, and will be used to help us build out our childcare centers – a much needed commodity here in the Central Valley and across the state. We will keep you posted on this project as it comes online.
Our new facility on Union Avenue in Bakersfield is finally getting a facelift thanks to a federal tax credit program. The New Market Tax Credits money is earmarked for development or acquisition projects located in economically distressed communities. This funding will allow us to upgrade our facility to better serve our Career Technical Education and EPIC students, and provide stability in terms of housing for our Chavez Environmental Corps corpsmembers who are in need. We are demolitioning parts of the site as we speak. In addition to building dorms to provide housing to our corpsmembers, we are expanding our commercial kitchen facilities to provide healthy nutrition to our students, giving our childcare centers a facelift, and doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint with the addition of solar to the property. We will be signing the papers soon and hope to be funded up to $2 million by next spring. These investments will help breathe new life into underserved, low-income communities like ours.
I also wanted to let you know some good news about the relaunch of our English as Second Language (ESL) program. We’ve gained hundreds of new students this past year and hope to be able to return to our pre-COVID numbers in the near future. Before the pandemic we were serving almost 7,000 students a year across the state. However, during COVID and with everything moving to an online platform, this impacted the program drastically and it was put on hold. But now I’m happy to report we’re back and offering ESL in 5 cities with the goal to expand to nine cities by the end of June 2024.
In more good news, the Paso Robles School District just approved by a vote of 7-0 a partnership with FIELD to host our EPIC High School, ESL and childcare facilities in their portable classrooms. Paso Robles is a large wine community, with no Latino presence in its wine packing processes. We are planning to help grow our own harvesting and packing cooperatives with growers in the region. We will keep you posted.
And finally, great news for our Cesar Chavez Environmental Corps. CalTrans has expanded our litter abatement and recycling contract in response to our corpsmembers great work. Paso Robles, Bakersfield and Bishop now are doubling our contracts with them. Additionally, our natural resources corpsmembers have done such terrific work restoring the fire ridden terrain that California State Parks wants to triple the number of contracts we have with them. Kudos to our corpsmembers for doing this important work.
So going into this holiday season, I wish you all good cheer. Please share our good news and remember, there is much work to be done to help empower the underserved living in our communities. We hope you will donate to our important work during this year’s Giving Tuesday, November 28, 2023. We will also be hosting our annual Toys For Tots program to make sure our little ones have presents under the tree this year. Here are photos from last year’s event.
Click here to see photos from last year’s event.
Our students are making a difference. And FIELD is helping make a difference in their lives. Giving them hope, inspiration and the training they need for a better life. We hope you will join us in embracing Cesar’s vision of a better world for all through cooperative ownership and programs leading to self sufficiency.
Si, Se Puede!
David Villarino Gonzalez