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[whitespace] Joint Venture adapts with the times

Organization redefines its mission, appoints new CEO

Cupertino--In these uncertain times, organizations across Silicon Valley have stepped up efforts to redefine ideas of the area's community. Joint Venture: Silicon Valley, a nonprofit organization committed to creating opportunities for all in the new economy, has taken a step toward that goal by redefining its own priorities and mission.

The group, which uses networks of business and community leaders, as well as grassroots organizers, to accomplish its initiatives, has merged with its Civic Action Network and refocused its priorities for the coming years. The newly formed organization, still called Joint Venture, will use the action network's Silicon Valley 2010 vision as its guide for future action. For the upcoming year, Joint Venture will focus on three regional goals: broadened prosperity, livable communities and civic engagement.

The new board currently has a search underway for a new chief executive officer. The previous CEO left the group to take a position in the Bush administration.

Dr. Martha Kanter, president of De Anza College and chair of the group's transition team, says the internal restructuring will help to "mobilize community efforts to support the 2010 vision." This vision relies upon Silicon Valley's "innovative, entrepreneurial spirit" to build a community, whereby the region can maintain its prosperity and health, while retaining its natural beauty and the inclusiveness of its communities.

The Vision Leadership Team built its framework around the communities' responses to a survey,, regarding their concerns about the present and future status of life in the valley. The framework involves two broad goals of shared prosperity and livable communities. The 2010 framework hopes to promote these goals, by working to bridge the digital divide between the strata of society and encouraging smart growth that will protect the valley's high standards of living.

To these ends, the framework includes a number of goals divided into four major categories: support for the region's innovative economy, protection of livable environment, fostering the inclusive nature of the area's society and the promotion of regional stewardship by its residents.

Kanter says the new Joint Venture board of directors has "made realizing the 2010 goals the centerpiece of what they are trying to accomplish over the next 10 years."

The 2010 vision has also received over 120 resolutions of commitment to its goals since its inception in 1998, including resolutions from the city of Cupertino and the Cupertino Union School District.

Kanter says Joint Venture hopes to combat the "isolation and apathy that are pervading American society, by getting people involved in their community." She believes one of the most critical aspects of the organization lies with its ability to bring together civic leaders and offer ideas for cooperative projects. She stresses that the group offers a neutral platform for groups, made up of individuals from different backgrounds to come together and discuss issues facing the region.

"We can't do it alone," Kanter says. "We need to work together, we need to connect people to a bigger picture of how we're doing and where we're going."

Joint Venture, according to Kanter, will continue to perform many of the functions it has in the past, including the Index of Silicon Valley, now in its sixth year of production. The index reports on regional trends, and Kanter calls it "a benchmark for us."

The organization will also focus on new projects, including plans for a "network of networks," an Internet portal connecting groups from every area of life in Silicon Valley, according to specific issues. The network hasn't made it out of the design phase yet, but Kanter predicts a prototype in six months to a year.

Joint Venture will also focus on mapping the geographic concentrations of poverty in the area, and work toward finding ways to connect the people in those communities to the resources available to them.

"Joint Venture adds value by connecting those resources and opportunities across the valley to the people who need them," Kanter says.
Kevin Fayle

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Web extra to the May 24-30, 2001 issue of Metro.

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