Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation CEO Dora Westerlund is among six Californians honored by the James Irvine Foundation for developing innovative approaches to some of the state’s most critical challenges, and her foundation will receive $200,000 to continue its work.
Westerlund offers would-be business owners in the Central Valley new avenues to economic opportunity through entrepreneurship, the Irvine Foundation said.
She expanded the Fresno foundation’s existing microloan program and launched a bilingual incubator to provide new entrepreneurs with technical assistance, business planning and on-site services needed to start and sustain small businesses. It is the first such incubator in the Western United States, the Irvine Foundation said.
Westerlund is expanding her work to bring small business workshops to the region’s rural areas. Since 2011, the foundation estimates that it has helped create or retain more than 12,000 jobs in the region with an economic impact of $200 million.
Other recipients of the 2017 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards were honored for improving student success and inspiring youth achievement, extending autism care to underserved families, restoring dignity to the homeless and broadening access to justice and legal aid in rural California.
The James Irvine Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California. With about $2 billion in assets, the Irvine Foundation will make grants of $90 million in 2017.