To improve the quality of life of underrepresented and marginalized residents of California’s Central Valley by advocating for social and environmental justice.
In 2012 a group of activists and community organizers from the Northern San Joaquin Valley came together under the name Valley Improvement Projects, or V.I.P., with the mission of improving the quality of life of underrepresented and marginalized residents of California’s Central Valley by advocating for social and environmental justice.
V.I.P. opened and ran the Community Center for Social & Environmental Justice in downtown Modesto from 2013-2014. The Center provided a unique space and opportunity for local organizers, activists, advocates, and other community members to meet, learn, and take united action. In 2015 V.I.P. suffered the tragic loss of our Co-Founder and long-time community advocate Emiliano Mataka, Rest In Peace Emi, we miss you everyday!.
Since then, V.I.P has carried on Emi’s legacy and worked to fulfill his vision: a grassroots organization made up of local community members dedicated to bringing justice and equity to the most disadvantaged communities of our area. V.I.P. is proud to continue his hard work by ever-expanding our outreach and presence in the community and always fighting for Social and Environmental Justice in Stanislaus County and the Central Valley!
Our Advocates and Volunteers:
Bianca Lopez – Co-Founder/Project Director
Thomas Helme – Co-Founder/Project Director
John X. Mataka – Community Advocate
Rosenda Mataka – Community Advocate
Marissa Chavez – Community Advocate
VIP Volunteers and Advocates at the Modesto Earth Day Festival
Environmental Justice: The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. VIP advocates for:
- Clean Air: Reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants, especially in disadvantaged communities.
- Pesticide Reduction: Reduce the use of, and exposure to, harmful pesticides in rural, disadvantaged communities and near schools.
- Clean Drinking Water: Expand access to safe and affordable drinking water for all community members.
- Sustainable Communities: Implement local development practices that include:
- Walk-able/bike-able communities and adequate public transportation systems.
- “Infill” development of affordable housing, not sprawl into farmland and open spaces.
- Access to healthy food and safe drinking water in disadvantaged communities.
- Increase and improvement of local recycling, composting, and product re-use opportunities and practices.
- Reduction in the use of non-biodegradable, “single-use” styrofoam and plastic products such as bottles, bags, cups, straws, food containers and utensils.
- Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change, especially through the development and utilization of true renewable energy.
Social Justice: The equal access to resources, health, well-being, justice, and opportunity for all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income. VIP advocates for:
- Law Enforcement Accountability: Eliminate abuses of authority and police brutality by:
- Encouraging community members to “CopWatch” by providing them with training on safely and legally observing police conduct.
- Providing forms, information, and support to community members who file complaints against local law enforcement officials.
- Demanding transparency and community access to police reports, files, and videos.
- Providing basic “Know Your Rights” information to vulnerable communities involving law enforcement interactions at home, in a car, or on the street.
- Criminal Justice Reform: Stop mass incarceration by investing in alternatives to incarceration and the “cash bail” system.
- Tenant’s Rights and Housing Access: Provide information to tenants on their rights, expose slumlords, and develop more affordable housing for disadvantaged communities.
- Homeless Support and Outreach: End anti-homeless ordinances and expand the distribution of food and needed supplies for the local homeless community.
Outreach, Networking, and Solidarity:
- Disadvantaged and Vulnerable Communities: VIP strives to reach-out to the poor, working poor, communities of color, immigrants, Spanish-speakers, LGBTQ community, religious minorities, indigenous communities, youth, elders, people with disabilities, the homeless, and many others who carry extra burdens in our society.
- Youth Outreach and Education: VIP works to provide our local young people with productive recreational activities as well as socially and culturally relevant educational workshops and information.
- Representatives and Officials: VIP maintains contact with elected representatives and relevant agency officials and advocates for solutions to social and environmental justice issues on behalf of our disadvantaged communities.
- Regional and Statewide Coalitions: VIP is a proud member of the California Environmental Justice Coalition (CEJC), Central Valley Air Quality Coalition (CVAQ), Stanislaus Sustainable Communities Coalition (SSCC), Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN), and California Cleaner Freight Coalition (CCFC).
Our Contact Info:
Valley Improvement Projects (V.I.P.)
P.O. Box 4214
Modesto, CA 95352