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Abigail Rodela - Wendy Wayne Award Winner

FITV Youth Leader Among 2024 Wendy Wayne Ethics Award Winners

Congratulations to Abby Rodela, one of our youth leaders in Kern County, who recently received the 2024 Wendy Wayne Ethics Youth Award. In a world craving positive change and ethical leadership, this award is a testament to Abby's unwavering commitment to community and ethical action. Housed at Cal State Bakersfield, the Kegley Institute of Ethics serves as a go-to spot in the Central Valley for diving into the big questions about how we should live and act in the world. The awards celebrate adults and youth alike who, through their ethical actions and commitment, significantly uplift their communities. In her…

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Our Work in Kern

In partnership with the Kern Educational Justice Collaborative (KEJC), Faith in Kern leaders have been working diligently to end the school to prison pipeline and keep restorative justice on the forefront. With partners, Faith in Kern leaders diverted two million dollars from policing to hire four PBIS counselors and 8 additional school counselors, and to allocate additional funding to parent centers and workshops. Faith in Kern leaders are currently supporting the implementation of PBIS, healing circles for students and parent participation in the classroom.

We are also laying the groundwork to shape the Kern Medical Center health plan to become the first pubic hospital in the Central Valley to provide preventative and specialty care for undocumented community members.

Faith in Kern leaders were also successful in securing the commitment of the Bakersfield Police Department to begin implementation of 21st Century Policing, building on our 8-year history of working with the Bakersfield Safe Streets Partnership.

Moving forward, we are advocating for more diverse hiring of police officers, implicit bias training and greater accountability and transparency, including advancing investigation and review of deadly force.

Our key issues include:

  • Live Free/Heat: improving public safety and criminal justice reform (Prop. 47)
  • Education Team: dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline and influencing LCAP/LCFF to improve student education and success
  • Health For Kern: organizing health coverage for the undocumented residents of Kern County
Faith in Kern organizers and leaders
Faith in Kern organizers and leaders
Faith in Kern organizers and leaders

Doing this work is keeping me aware of my rights, and I'm able to share information with others so we can work together to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and protect immigrant families to build a better future for all.

Laura Melendez
Live Free Leader

Faith In The Valley is the only body in Kern that can organize churches, community partners, secular organizations and unions to shine the "light" on local social injustices that local government fail to acknowledge.

Francisco Javier Martinez
St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, SEIU 521

Being a lone African American parishioner of my church has been an eye opener and Faith in the Valley has become valuable to me. I've lived in Bakersfield since 2002, but have never been aware of the deep issues that keep people separated and fearful here in Kern County.

Eula Lee Fairgood
St. Philip the Apostle Church

Our Key Accomplishments

Kern High School District hired more counselors in 2016 and invested less in campus police due to Faith In Kern efforts working with partners in the Kern Educational Justice Collaborative

The California Department of Justice launched a civil rights and police practices investigation into the Kern County Sheriff’s Department and Bakersfield Police Department as a result of organizing efforts led by Faith In Kern and families directly impacted by police killings

Featured in The Guardian’s 2015 documentary showing that Kern County had America’s deadliest police department. The Guardian series and Live Free organizing efforts led to the early retirement and resignation of Police Chief Greg Williamson in late 2016

Successfully organized with our partners to get Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green to sign off on U-Visa applications for undocumented residents—something Sheriff Youngblood refused to do

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