Self-Help Enterprises and EDF Partner to Support California Department of Conservation in Coordination and Peer Learning for Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program

Co-chairs will focus on participation of historically underrepresented communities and working with agriculture to create new benefits for people and wildlife

May 25, 2022
Ronna Kelly, (415) 293-6161,; Sonia Sanchez, (559) 802-1689,;

Sonia Sanchez, (559) 802-1689,
Ronna Kelly, (415) 293-6161,

(SACRAMENTO, CA – May 25, 2022) Self-Help Enterprises and Environmental Defense Fund have been selected by the California Department of Conservation to coordinate technical assistance and outreach for the state’s new Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program. 

The Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program was created by the state last year with an initial $50 million in funding to help rural communities and the agricultural sector balance groundwater supply and demand, as required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, while creating new benefits for communities and ecosystems.

Working together as co-chairs of the “statewide support entity” for the program, SHE and EDF will provide broad support to groundwater sustainability agencies and other grantees to help achieve program goals. One of the most important goals is meaningful engagement of historically underserved groups — such as small farmers, farmers of color, disadvantaged communities and tribes — to ensure that they have the ability to shape the program and that projects benefit a diverse array of stakeholders.

As part of the $2 million, four-year grant, SHE and EDF also will facilitate communication, collaboration and learning among grantees and partners; provide guidance, training and technical assistance; support program monitoring and outcomes reporting; and coordinate communication.   

“We have a demonstrated commitment to equity and know that meaningful progress comes when all stakeholders are at the table,” said Tom Collishaw, President and CEO of Self-Help Enterprises. “As a statewide support entity co-chair, we look forward to pursuing a collaborative process to identify and pursue sustainable solutions for the San Joaquin Valley and entire state.”

“The new Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program gives rural communities and the agricultural sector a unique opportunity to reshape their landscapes in ways that help achieve groundwater sustainability and build resilience to climate change while creating new benefits, such as groundwater recharge to support agriculture, open space for people and habitat for wildlife,” said Ann Hayden, Associate Vice President, Climate Resilient Water Systems, Environmental Defense Fund. “To advance the most equitable strategies, EDF and SHE will be laser focused on ensuring historically underserved communities are actively helping to identify and shape land projects, especially those that affect them directly.”

SHE and EDF will work with a team of implementing partners to advise grantees on issues related to working lands practices, grower outreach, habitat restoration, and diverse stakeholder engagement. Those advisers will include experts from the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts and CivicWell. An advisory committee also will be created to provide high level policy guidance and connect grantees to other funding opportunities.

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Self-Help Enterprises (SHE) is a nationally recognized community development organization whose mission is to work together with low-income families to build and sustain healthy homes and communities. The pioneer and leading provider of mutual self-help housing in the United States, SHE’s efforts today encompass a range of efforts to build better homes and communities for farmworkers and other hard-working families. Since 1965, SHE has helped more than 6,400 families to build their own homes, rehabilitated over 6,800 unsafe homes, developed nearly 2,000 units of affordable rental housing, and has provided technical assistance for reliable access to safe drinking water and sanitary sewer infrastructures which has affected the lives of over 33,000 individuals in 160 small communities. SHE’s commitment to providing resources and training for individuals builds the capacity of highly effective leaders in communities that also promote collaborative solutions for improving communities. These combined efforts have touched the lives of over 65,000 families, providing security and stability for families and building more productive communities. 

One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund ( creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @GrowingReturns and subscribe to our On the Water Front newsletter and blog at