Uplift Central Coast

A 6-county coalition lifting up the region’s residents

A six-county partnership working to attract investment and expand opportunity for Central Coast residents

Map of Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties

Spanning Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the Uplift Central Coast partnership came together under the federal Build Back Better Challenge in 2021 with a multi-faceted initiative to cultivate the Central Coast’s space + aeronautics ecosystem. 

Led by three economic development organizations — the Economic Development Collaborative, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership and REACH — Uplift is widening and deepening its collaborative efforts under California’s Community Economic Resilience Fund, a promising new opportunity to bring resources to the region.

The Uplift Central Coast Coalition has been awarded a $5 million grant through California’s Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF)

The grant will fund a 2-year planning process to create an inclusive economic development plan for the six Central Coast counties with a focus on equity, sustainability, job quality, economic competitiveness and resilience.

Thank you to those who partnered and collaborated with us as we crafted our application for the Community Economic Resilience Fund. We greatly value the time, input and feedback given in the development of our vision and goals for the future of the 6-county Central Coast region. Below you will find links to the application’s executive summary and the list of support letters from organizations representing more than dozen different community sectors and perspectives.


economic development organizations


letters of support

Uplift and CERF

A quick look at the regional grant opportunity

What’s CERF?

California’s Community Economic Resilience Fund — CERF for short — is a $600 million program created to catalyze planning and action to realize an equitable and sustainable economy across the state’s diverse regions and develop industries that create high-quality, broadly accessible jobs for all Californians.

Our six-county region was identified as one of 13 regions eligible for a $5 million planning grant, with potential to compete for a larger implementation investment. The planning grants are intended to create an inclusive economic development process with a focus on equity, sustainability, job quality, economic competitiveness and resilience.

Learn more about CERF.

Who’s involved?

Led by REACH, MBEP and EDC, the Uplift partnership assembled a collaborative regional coalition that reflects the diversity of the Central Coast to work together to build a more inclusive economy.

Our table of tables includes: 

  • Community-based organizations
    Represent triple bottom line interests
    Advance equity, environmental and social justice
  • Education + workforce development
    Full continuum of preschool through higher education
    Workforce Development Boards as key funders and enablers of career pathways and training ecosystems
  • Employees/labor
    Represent broad spectrum of workers and demographics
    Advocate for labor rights and inclusive opportunity
  • Government
    Sets policy and provides funding
    Delivers services
    Protects residents
  • Investors/funders
    Provide capital, investment
    Participate in risk/reward transfer for new ideas
  • Private sector/employers
    Hire/retain and grow talent
    Operationalize innovation and employment
    Provide goods and services

(Note: this represents a framework of the Central Coast ecosystem — dubbed a High Road Transition Collaborative by the state — and is not meant to be exhaustive of the entire current or future ecosystem.)

Graphic representing the collaborative regional coalition the Uplift partnership is assembling

REACH is serving as the regional convener, facilitating meetings and organizing an inclusive group of stakeholders. EDC is serving as the fiscal agent, responsible for grant management. 


July 25, 2022 | Deadline for Uplift to submit planning grant application

Leading up to the due date, Uplift worked to mobilize a diverse Central Coast ecosystem of stakeholders, developed a vision and goals, and crafted an inclusive outreach and engagement plan and process.

October-2024 | Phase 1: Planning 

On October 20th, 2022, the Uplift Coalition was awarded the grant. Uplift will now enter a 18-24 month planning phase. This involves: building out Central Coast ecosystem to include additional voices and perspectives; implementing an inclusive outreach and engagement plan; and developing a regional plan with collaborative partnerships.

Beyond | Phase 2: Programs and Projects 

Going forward, Uplift will work to advance and implement projects and programs resulting from the inclusive regional planning efforts. The state has set aside $500 million, though the planning phase is also intended as a catalyst to compete for a range of other federal, philanthropic and state funding.

Alphabet soup: CERF v CEDS

Many regions have what’s called a CEDS: a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. REACH is in the process of developing a CEDS for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, with REACH 2030 designated as the region’s temporary CEDS.

In short: Similar names, different programs. Here’s a chart to help keep them straight.

Program origin
State government Federal government
Grant administrator
GO-Biz, Office of Planning and Research, Labor Department Economic Development Administration
Project applicant
Uplift Coalition REACH
Community matching funds?
No SLO County, Santa Barbara County, Bank of America
6-county region defined by the state (Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, SLO, Santa Barbara, Ventura) 2-county region defined by REACH (SLO, Santa Barbara)
Application due July 25; Program runs Oct 2022 – Sept 2024 Current – Fall 2023
To be competitive for $500M in CERF implementation funds and beyond To be competitive for federal investment

Learn more about the CEDS project

Uplift Central Coast at a glance


May 20th - Uplift Central Coast Kickoff Roundtable

The virtual kickoff addressed the details of the CERF program, the phases and requirements of the application, and what it means for the Central Coast.

Watch Webinar

June 16th and 17th - Uplift Central Coast Working Sessions

At both sessions, Uplift discussed the framework of the project plan and broke into four working groups to dig into the core areas of project planning.

Watch Webinar

July 19th - Uplift Central Coast Final Working Session

At this final regional working session, we reviewed and discussed the building blocks of our application based on community iteration and feedback.

Watch Webinar

Space + aeronautics

Uplift first partnered on a multi-faceted project to cultivate the Central Coast’s space + aeronautics ecosystem.

A collage of aerospace images