Standing on a table by a food truck at a brewery in downtown Fresno, former Mayor Ashley Swearengin addressed a crowd of curious attendees who came to learn how to get involved in Fresno; she gave them much more than that.

Next Generation Philanthropy (hereafter: NextGen) held a mixer Thursday evening at Tioga Sequoia Brewing, and their mission of developing tomorrow’s community leaders had attracted the best kinds of Fresnans. This program is a function of the Central Valley Community Foundation, a leader in philanthropy in the region, and seeks to build a network of community members from all sectors who share a common goal in advancing Fresno’s interests.

In her usual bravado, Ashley fired off the laundry list of accomplishments that Fresno has achieved in the onerous uphill battle she says began in the 90’s. Beginning her work for the city in 1996, she has bested issues such as urban sprawl and gang violence, but that work has only “set the table for what comes next. The past decade plus of assembling infrastructure has us poised for the coming decade of investment.”

NextGen’s founder, Justin Vartanian, accompanied Ashley atop her table talking about all the positive change he’s seen in his and others lives through the program. The group has granted funds in support of agriculture, education, revitalization and more, while the true value comes in the individuals learning about the ongoing efforts in Fresno and becoming activated as members to ‘carry the torch’ forward.

Fresno State Humanics Professor Dr. Don Simmons was recognized for his impact in Fresno’s philanthropy community as he has advised organizations across the local landscape. As participants in the Students4Giving Philanthropy Project, Central Valley Community Foundation is a close partner to Dr. Jendian’s growing program.

Next Generation Philanthropy is an awesome program that Humanics scholars are encouraged to engage with, serving as a relevant next step beyond graduation to develop CBO leaders in Fresno.

For more information, please contact Justin Vartanian at or visit NextGen’s website.