Photo by Brian Diener


Fresno DRIVE Initiative

What is the Fresno DRIVE Initiative?

The D.R.I.V.E. Initiative (Developing the Region’s Inclusive and Vibrant Economy) is a 10-year investment plan to develop a sustainable economy for the residents of the greater Fresno region.

What is the goal of DRIVE?

The goal of DRIVE is to create opportunities for all residents to move from poverty to prosperity by creating an inclusive economy that is vibrant and sustainable.

How is DRIVE achieving this goal?

The DRIVE Initiative assessed community and economic data in three areas: economic development, human capital, and neighborhood quality. This evaluation of our region’s challenges helped build a collective understanding of our city’s unique position, and guided the Steering Committee towards a shared, 10-year vision to transform Fresno. The comprehensive plan developed a portfolio of investable initiatives to increase economic mobility and address racial disparities.

Who is involved with DRIVE?

DRIVE is coordinated by the Central Valley Community Foundation with support from The James Irvine Foundation. The DRIVE Initiative is guided by a Steering Committee of 150+ organizations and over 300 community leaders, and supported by a consulting and research team that includes McKinsey & Company, Fresno State’s Central Valley Health Policy Institute, Brookings Institution, Jobs for the Future, and the Urban Institute.

Were residents involved in the DRIVE process?

Fresno Building Healthy Communities, in partnership with the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at Fresno State, conducted focus groups in Summer/Fall 2019 to gather community input and feedback on the DRIVE Initiative plan. Click here to download the Focus Groups Report. The DRIVE Initiative includes mulitple opportunities for resident engagement, follow us on Facebook or Twitter to learn more.

What projects are included in the DRIVE Initiative?

Developing the draft DRIVE Community Investment Plan began with a community-wide inventory of existing initiatives directly relating to DRIVE’s 10-year vision and focus on economic development, human capital, and neighborhood development. In total, 125 initiatives were reviewed, categorized, and assessed for inclusion based on their alignment, momentum and community buy-in, impact, feasibility, and diversity of impact. The assessment process, based on national best practices and coordination efforts with external experts, resulted in 25 major investment themes, which were ultimately developed into 19 community investment initiatives. Click here to learn more.

Why Fresno?

Fresno is currently one of the fastest growing regions in the United States with 20 percent population growth since 2000 and has historically been the largest city in California’s Central Valley. The Urban Institute’s 2018 research on economic mobility revealed that Fresno ranks 59th out of California’s 59 largest cities for economic and racial disparity, and our current economy doesn’t create the volume and opportunities needed to break the cycle of economic distress. While impressive progress has been made to combat these challenges in recent years, but there is more to be done. The DRIVE Initiative is a comprehensive and inclusive economic development plan that will guide public and private investments for the next decade.

How was the DRIVE Initiative developed?

In May 2019, Governor Newsom’s office announced a new ‘Regions Rise Together” initiative designed to develop a comprehensive economic plan to benefit all parts of California, specifically the Inland regions. The DRIVE Initiative capitalized on this statewide momentum, with a diverse group of civic, community, and business leaders to develop a strategy for Fresno.

The DRIVE Initiative launched on July 10, 2019 in Downtown Fresno to a Steering Committee of 300 participants. After a 6-week business planning procress, the draft plan was presented to community groups for input and feedback. On October 31, 2019 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, a coalition of DRIVE leaders presented the draft Investment Plan to Governor Newsom, and on November 7-8, the plan was presented at the 2019 California Economic Summit hosted in Fresno.

In 2020, the DRIVE coalition created a race equity framework to guide the ongoing development of DRIVE iniatitives, and attracted investment capital for individual workplans.