Bakersfield, Calif. – Organizations, advocates, students and families delivered a simple message during a recent press event at the Liberty Bell: health is more than health care and everyone, particularly the most vulnerable members of our community, is at risk.

As an example, residents, in partnership with Building Healthy Communities South Kern including Faith in the Valley, Dignity Health’s Community Health Initiative, Clinica Sierra Vista, Vision y Compromiso, California Partnership, say that the expansion of Medi-Cal has helped boost the regional economy by creating new jobs and providing people with basic preventative services. Specifically, in Kern County, if life-saving health coverage were to be reduced or dramatically cut, we could:

  • Lose health insurance for about 160,000 children, seniors and working family members;

  • Get rid of about 14,700 jobs and;

  • Rip about $305 million from our local economy

“We want to educate our fellow Kern County residents about what it means to create a healthy Kern County,” said Lorena Lara of Faith in the Valley Kern. “Cutting health care will hurt real families directly and hurt all of us indirectly by crushing our economy.”

Family financial stability advocates also say that the proposed changes currently being considered to our tax system would have devastating consequences for the economic health of our communities. For example, abolishing deductions for state/local taxes and itemized charitable deductions, which would sharply raise Californians’ tax bill, will hurt our capacity to invest in the things that matter most to us.

“We already know that over 80% of all donations made nationally come from individuals—not foundations or corporations,” said Jill Egland, Vice President of Community Impact, United Way of Kern County. “Those same numbers hold true for us here in Kern. Furthermore, we’re not just talking about contributions from the very wealthy. We’re talking about the bulk of charitable investment coming from working- and middle-class incomes. Reducing or abolishing these deductions? We’ll feel it here, most definitely, in our loss of ability to invest in our parks, our schools, our places of worship, our emergency relief efforts. We need to empower communities. Not cripple them.”

BHC-SK is a broad collaborative of community groups and organizations, public agencies, residents, and youth leaders who are partnering and advocating towards community and health equity in Kern’s underserved communities.                                     



December 14, 2017

Media Contact: Reyna Olaguez, Building Healthy Communities South Kern
(661) 817-3577,

Hundreds of Residents Are Expected to Attend Screening of ‘American Migrant Stories’

Building Healthy Communities South Kern is proud to present a special screening of ‘American Migrant Stories’ to a special audience today at CSU Bakersfield (CSUB).

We are thrilled to present this documentary to the folks who may share a similar story to the stories told in this gripping production that exposes the pain that families face in their search for prosperity.

BHC-SK will be busing in residents from Delano, McFarland, Arvin, Lamont, Weedpatch and Greenfield to watch this riveting documentary produced by CSU Bakersfield’s Center for Social Justice with financial support from BHC-SK.

The community is welcome to attend this free screening today, Dec. 14 at CSU Bakersfield’s Dore Theatre, 9000 Stockdale Hwy. in Bakersfield, CA at 6:30 p.m. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with local attorney’s David Torres, H.A. Sala, Win Eaton, Xochitl Garcia and Bakersfield Chief of Police, Lyle Martin.

BHC-SK is a broad collaborative of community groups and organizations, public agencies, residents, and youth leaders who are partnering and advocating towards community and health equity in Kern’s underserved communities.


The Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN) held bi-annual Roots of Resistance Conference on October 21 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center. The conference included workshops and trainings from nonprofit and community leaders.

“The purpose of this conference is to showcase the environmental justice victories from Fresno and Kern Counties, as well as an in-depth analysis of the struggles and resistance efforts in Southern San Joaquin Valley,” said Gustavo Aguirre, Jr. of CCEJN and the Kern Environmental Enforcement Network (KEEN).

Nearly 200 people attended the conference which included speakers from the Committee for a Better Arvin who spoke about their work to enforce pesticide drift buffer zones around schools, and implementing resident-based air quality monitoring technology.

After such a successful Roots of Resistance Conference, Aguirre hopes to continue the momentum and energy created back to South Kern, starting with young leaders in South Kern.

After parents in the Mojave Unified School District reached out to the Dolores Huerta Foundation for help in addressing the racial disparities in school suspensions, Building Healthy Communities South Kern’s Kern Education Justice Collaborative partners began their work to find a solution to the extreme suspension and expulsion rates for students of color in the district. Outdated disciplinary practices remove students from the classroom and allow these same students to fall behind in school.

In a series of education justice op-eds in The Bakersfield Californian, Gerald Cantu, Education Policy Director at the Dolores Huerta Foundation, cites that students of color across Kern are pushed out of schools through disciplinary practices, as brought to light in recent the Kern High School District settlement. Mojave Unified School District has the highest rate of suspensions in the county, with approximately 41% of student body suspended between 2014 and 2015, the majority of whom were black. Despite being a minority in the district, black students were expelled two times more than their white and Latino counterparts.

BHC-SK asked Cantu to tell us how this campaign will look like in Mojave.

“As we begin our work in Mojave Unified, we intend to apply the lessons learned through our years-long efforts at Kern High School District, where we worked with parents to advocate for adoption and faithful implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and restorative justice practices, training on implicit bias, and a diverse staff representative of the student body,” Cantu states.

“We are training parents and residents to become leaders with the tools to advocate for discipline reforms at school board meetings and to run for school board. It’s going to mean progress towards the dismantling of the school-to-prison pipeline for students of color. Two school board trustees will be up for election in 2018, and we intend to hold candidate forums where parents and community members will have an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates.”

Read more from Gerald Cantu in The Bakersfield Californian here.

Kern County Public Health Services, in collaboration with Building Healthy Communities-South Kern, California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) and Kern County Library, invite you to the Language Access Workshop. This workshop is a follow-up event to the Language Access Convening held on November 9, 2016. The workshop, like the convening, will focus on the Indigenous Mexican community living in Kern County. Indigenous communities from Mexico speak distinct languages that bear no linguistic similarity to English or Spanish.

At the convening, service providers will be able to:

  • Identify current resources for providing language access to indigenous language speakers in Kern County;
  • Identify potential long-term solutions for achieving more reliable and cost-effective language services to indigenous populations in the County; and,
  • Discuss next steps toward achieving short and long-term solutions.

Please fill out this registration form below or use this link (

The workshop will be held May 11 at Bakersfield’s Beale Memorial Library, 701 Truxtun Ave. from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.



There’s a new skate park in Arvin, and skaters from all over the area have been breaking in the state of the art park that was finished last week. The skate park has plenty of spaces to grind, thanks to dozens of young leaders who gathered signatures, received input from members of the community and presented plans to the city.

“The youth worked hard for what they desperately needed in their community,” says Adam Kahler, of Bike Bakersfield, a nonprofit organization who seeks to create a culture of biking as a safe, and fun alternative to everyday transportation. “They knew what they wanted and they achieved it.”

The action park, which has both skate and bike-friendly features, will attract more Arvin youth to “stay engaged, healthy, and off of the streets,” according to Kahler.

Building youth leaders and creating safe places for youth is one of Building Healthy Communities South Kern’s priorities. City leaders say this park is an example of how community organizations can work together with local government to help build youth leadership.

20170315_161959“The new skate park will be a great asset for our community and will serve as proof that when we work together, engage our community, and make bold decisions, we truly have the power to make our vision for Arvin a reality,” said Arvin Mayor Jose Gurrola.

Community leaders say the park will eventually have a positive health impact on the environment of the whole city.

“This skate park will give kids a healthy activity, attract economic development and ultimately improve the quality of life for the entire community,” says the mayor of Arvin, Jose Gurrola.

The skate park was made possible thanks to a partnership between the City of Arvin, Bike Bakersfield, Tony Hawk Foundation, Mountain Side Disposal, and Building Healthy Communities South Kern.

“This project starts to answer some of the needs and desires of our community. It brings together healthy initiatives by promoting physical activities in a safe environment. This project reflects the real results of a community-wide transformation process to improve the quality of life in Arvin,” says Alfonso Noyola, City Manager of Arvin.

The skate park is located at DiGiorgio Park, 699 Haven Dr. in Arvin.


Committee for a Better Arvin, Comite Progreso de Lamont, and Center on Race Poverty and the Environment (CRPE) reached an agreement with Recology over the company’s new operation of Recology Blossom Valley Organics, a composting facility outside of Lamont.

“This agreement signifies a new beginning for the residents of Lamont and Arvin in terms public health and safety, and a partnership between Recology and the local community,” wrote CRPE in a press release.

The community agreement will ensure the operation is safe, protects public health, and also makes significant financial investments in the community.

“Recology has committed to installing an aeration system that will reduce pollution by at least 80 percent, this commitment was a driving factor for the community groups to enter into negotiations,” read the press release. “The goals of the agreement are to maintain an open line of communication with the nearby residents of Lamont, Weedpatch and Arvin, improve neighborhood safety and livability, and ensure a high quality of environmental standards are met.”

The history of relationships between economically disadvantaged communities and industrial corporations is often one of conflict. This win is an example of how corporations can work together with residents and why it’s important that corporations engage community residents into business processes.

We are proud to announce that Building Healthy Communities South Kern is sponsoring Bakersfield College’s Public Health Hackathon, an event that will bring together public health and science students to develop solutions to community health challenges. 
One of the challenges that will be poised to students is the need for a Building Healthy Communities South Kern application, so that partners can be connected and communicate in real time. 
The free event takes place March 17, 18, & 19 at Bakersfield College, 1801 Panorama Dr. in Bakersfield. Participants interested in collaborating can sign up for the hackathon at For more information, please call Allyssa Haas at (661) 368-5482.

Building Healthy Communities South Kern, CSU Bakersfield’s Social Justice Center and the Kern Rural Teacher Residency will host best-selling author Jonathan Kozol as he leads future and current educators and advocates in a discussion about educational inequality and racial justice.

Kozol, in his latest book, ‘Savage Inequalities,” brings into question the reality of equal opportunity in the country’s public education system.

The free event takes place Saturday, March 25 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Cal State Bakersfield’s Dore Theatre, 9000 Stockdale Hwy. Free parking is available in Lots B and C. Please click here to register for the event.