Community Economic Mobilization Initiative (CEMI)

Responding to a Generational Opportunity

California is on the cusp of receiving an unprecedented level of financial investments to strengthen its climate resiliency, transportation infrastructure, housing and more.

The size of these investments and timelines for their deployment have placed intense political and social pressure on economic development organizations to quickly ramp up planning activities. At the same time, these organizations must pivot to meet new federal and state community engagement requirements. History has shown that quick economic development results in limited and inequitable participation. Communities that are under-resourced and home to vulnerable and marginalized populations usually do not influence the process or benefit from the investments.

Funding Opportunity

A new CEMI funding opportunity was open to all organizations that met eligibility criteria and requirements. Proposals were due January 20 at 5 p.m. Due to the large number of applications we received, applications are in their final review stage.

CEMI Resources for Grantee Partners

Visit, our online hub providing training, technical assistance and guidance for community organizations.

CEMI Brochure

View the new CEMI brochure to learn more about CEMI’s collaborative approach to inclusive economic development.

Our Solution for Increasing Inclusive Economic Development

The Center at Sierra Health Foundation launched the Community Economic Mobilization Initiative (CEMI) to assist nonprofits in building their knowledge and capacity so that they are poised to participate in these funding opportunities. CEMI is an innovative effort to advance equity, inclusion and the goals of federal and state climate-resilient economic development initiatives.

  • Provides grant funding for community-based organizations to leverage public funding opportunities
  • Strengthens the capacity of nonprofits to address disproportionate and historic economic and employment disparities in under-resourced and BIPOC communities
  • Establishes new policy frameworks and practice models that increase and sustain nonprofit engagement in recovery planning and implementation efforts and ensure underserved communities benefit from recovery investments
  • Organizes across funder and interest area portfolios to link and leverage the impact of individual and collective investments made by public and private partners
  • Assesses the scope and impact of enhanced community engagement and influence within and across selected economic and climate-resilient regions

Core CEMI Components

A Funder-designated Advised Fund and a Pooled Fund offers ways for community partners to participate in CEMI. The Center manages and regrants the funds.

Technical Assistance and Training builds on our funded partners’ existing organizational capacity and includes the CEMI Resources website, a Steering Committee to provide guidance and oversight, peer learning and linkages to support organizing and power-building.

Mobilizing Community and Building Power to create a statewide advocacy network to amplify and build a grassroots constituency, develop and cultivate relationships with policy champions, and create accountability to ensure that goals are integrated at all levels of activity.

Importance of Inclusive Economic Development

Research from William Julius Wilson, Ron Ferguson, Katharine Bradbury and Robert Triest has shown that to be inclusive, economic development planning and implementation need to be driven by changes in policy as well as practice and funding. Chris Benner and Manuel Pastor, in a paper titled Inclusive Economy Indicators, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and distributed by Brookings Institute, identified five key components of effective inclusive economic development:

Growth: Increasing good job and work opportunity

Equitable: Upward mobility and reduction of inequality

Sustainability: Social and economic well-being is increasingly sustained over time

Participation: People can access and participate in markets as workers, consumers, and business owners

Stability: Public and private confidence in the future and ability to predict outcome of economic decisions

Join Us!

If you are a funder who would like to drive generational inclusive economic development for communities across California, please contact us for more information.

CEMI is funded by a collaborative of philanthropic partners including Sierra Health Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, Blue Shield of California Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation, The California Endowment and The California Wellness Foundation, and it is managed by The Center.


The Center Announces Second-Round CEMI Grantees

Learn more in the February-March issue of Partnerships.
March 24, 2023

CEMI Announces Inaugural Grantees

November 3, 2022

Virtual Briefing for Community-Based Organizations

November 29, 2022
Access the webinar recording (

Ensuring Equitable and Sustainable Public Funding: Philanthropy’s Critical Role
SoCal Grantmakers Virtual Event

June 30, 2022
Learn more at

New $15 Million Fund for Inclusive Economic Development

News release
Sierra Health Foundation and The James Irvine Foundation
April 27, 2022

In the Media

UC Santa Cruz scholar receives major new grant to support inclusive community development throughout California
UC Santa Cruz
Dec. 13, 2022

Philanthropy Needs to Ensure That Massive Infrastructure Spending Goes to Communities That Too Often Miss Out
The Chronicle of Philanthropy
June 1, 2022

Sierra Health Foundation and The Center Senior Vice President of Programs and Partnerships Kaying Hang presented at Together for Good: Northern California Grantmakers Annual Conference
May 5, 2022

Project to Help Non-Profits Gain Access to Almost $200B in State and Fed Funds
Observer News Group
May 4, 2022

Sierra Health Foundation and The Center President and CEO Chet P. Hewitt interviewed with KCRA-TV Sacramento
May 3, 2022

California Foundations Look to Ensure Billions in Government Aid Are Allocated Equitably
Inside Philanthropy
Subscription-only access
April 27, 2022

James Irvine Foundation Commits $107 Million to New Prosperity Program
The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Subscription-only access
April 6, 2022

Irvine Foundation awards $35 million, launches $107 million initiative
Philanthropy News Digest
April 4, 2022