An Opportunity To Influence San Diego Economic and Workforce Development

Everything you need to know about the California Jobs First Regional Investment Initiative.


Background Context

In 2021, the State of California launched the Community Economic Resilience Fund – or CERF as many came to know it – a $600 million fund with a goal “to ensure that as California’s economy grows and adapts to climate change and other challenges, that good-paying jobs and prosperous communities are created for the benefit of all Californians.” The name of this fund evolved to the California Jobs First Regional Investment Initiative (try acronymizing that one!) and the planning phase of a multi-year process is now underway in our region.

Read on to learn more about what this process looks like and how you can get involved.  

The Planning Phase 

Central to the approach of California Jobs First is creating pathways for investment that will bring community-driven, regionally governed economic blueprints to life–plans that will ultimately create good-paying jobs and build a clean energy economy. To that end, $5 million has been allocated to each region to develop their plan, with the goal of supporting communities to identify “shovel-ready” projects that can be moved forward in the next phase of funding. Each region has access to $14 million to prepare projects. In Phase 2, regions will apply for implementation funds through a $268 million competitive round of funding. 

To support the plan creation and ensure an equitable approach, our region established the Southern Border Coalition, a coalition of 30 working groups representing 15 different sectors each in San Diego and Imperial County. These sectors include philanthropic organizations, government agencies, divested communities, and environmental justice organizations, among others. The full list of sectors can be found here 

A preliminary Draft Phase I plan is underway and available for public comment here. 


Who’s Involved 

Our region’s efforts are led by San Diego State University, serving as a fiscal sponsor, along with co-conveners Comite Cívico del Valle, Imperial Valley Equity & Justice Coalition, Imperial Valley Wellness Foundation, SBCS, San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council, San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center, and Universidad Popular.  

Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties serves as the Philanthropic Sector Lead for San Diego, working alongside Imperial Valley Community Foundation in Imperial County to identify ways that philanthropic contributions, networks, and advocacy can enhance community capacity and help to shape our region’s plan. The group will also look for areas where philanthropy can enhance public funding in support of California Jobs First projects. 


Learn More 

This process is designed to make it easy for any individual who wants to be involved to jump in. The Planning phase is an influential and important time to make sure that philanthropic organizations and individuals are plugged into the many community-led initiatives that will emerge!

Here are three easy ways to get involved: 

  1. Browse the calendar of meetings to learn more about the plan and priorities. These are designed for philanthropists and philanthropic organizations, but all are welcome! 
  2. Sign up for regional updates by becoming a coalition member (no charge and no responsibilities other than commitment to the mission and vision). 
  3. Meetings for all 15 sectors can be viewed on this Google Calendar and are open to all.