State of the Inland Empire Series


State of Education Equity in the Inland Empire


Much like in the rest of the country, the historical legacies and contemporary manifestations of racial segregation and discrimination have led to deep inequities in educational attainment in the Inland Empire. Historically, the Inland Empire has been a place where indigenous education was delegitimized and anglicized, and where public education was marked by a high degree of racial segregation and disinvestment in communities of color.

At the same time, the Inland Empire has also been a place of community empowerment and progress. The region spawned great community leaders like Frances Grice who fought local busing laws all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. The work of community engagement and empowerment to produce educational equity continues today, as is evident in the various nonprofit organizations we profile. Important, too, are the efforts of allies within government and educational systems, who are working in various ways to reform policies and practices that improve educational attainment, particularly among students of color.

This report highlights several important partnerships and collaboratives that are already underway, including those focused on “collective impact” involving leaders and administrators across educational and workforce systems. Fostering greater community engagement and influence in these efforts would ensure that these collective efforts move with greater urgency, and have greater impact.



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The state of nonprofits in the Inland Empire is improving in several respects, based on our analysis of IRS data on nonprofits, foundation giving data, employment data, and our surveys and interviews with regional nonprofit leaders. Boosting public and private investments in the region’s nonprofits is especially critical post-2020, given the context of a post-Census drop in funding to grassroots organizations and the economic havoc of COVID-19 that disproportionately hurts low-wage workers and communities heavily reliant on hospitality and retail.

Boosting funding in the Inland Empire is not just a matter of need, but also one of strategic opportunity. Investors would be well served to pay attention to emerging and innovative organizations, many led by youth and people of color. Investments in leadership development and advocacy also hold the promise of better leveraging state/federal dollars and growing public-private partnerships. Finally, our research indicates that diversity and inclusion are important priorities for executive leadership and board leadership critical for a region that is predominantly people of color, and fast-growing.



A community’s strength depends on its level of civic engagement, which includes voting, volunteerism, and other forms of civic and political participation. This is particularly true in the Inland Empire, a rapidly growing region of 4.6 million residents that is poised to add another 2 million in the next 40 years. It is also a racially diverse region where Latinos are a majority of the resident population, yet lag significantly behind in their level of civic engagement. This report provides a mix of historical, quantitative, and qualitative data with respect to civic engagement in the region.



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This report provides an overview of the state of women in the Inland Empire region of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, a fast-growing area with 2.3 million women. As a historically marginalized group, women in the region, and especially women of color, have faced significant economic and societal challenges, as well as barriers to nonprofit leadership and political representation.

Overall, women in the Inland Empire earn just 68 cents for every dollar earned by men in the region. This gap widens when accounting for race or ethnicity. Native American and Latina women have the largest earnings gaps, making only 36 and 42 cents, respectively, on the dollar when compared to White men. The gender gap also persists within racial and ethnic groups, as women earn less than men of the same race or ethnicity. In addition, rising costs of childcare and other economic challenges make it difficult for women to remain in the workforce, limiting household incomes.



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This report provides an overview of the state of work in the Inland Empire region of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, an area that accounts for one of every 9 California residents. The region has added over 300,000 jobs since the peak of unemployment in July 2010, with logistics and healthcare driving much of the gains. At the same time, only about 4 in 10 jobs pay enough for working families to make ends meet. This problem is particularly acute for communities of color, a majority of the region’s workforce.

Improving earnings, benefits, and job stability for workers in the Inland Empire would not only help families in poverty, it would also increase consumer spending and local revenues, creating positive ripple effects for the entire regional economy.



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One in five residents in the Inland Empire is an immigrant. Migration has been a central feature of the region for centuries, and there are now nearly 1 million immigrants living in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. As in decades past, the region’s economic strength and cultural vitality depends on the contributions of immigrants and native born alike.

State of Immigrants in the Inland Empire sets forth the history, resources, and partnerships that support the pressing issues and needs of immigrants in the region. It calls forth key policy issues that have affected—and continue to affect—local immigrant communities. As the region continues to grow, it is important to examine key issues pertaining to its immigrant communities, including poverty, education, employment, and social service needs.