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Approach: An Investment Playbook for San Bernardino

Developed in collaboration with the Aspen Latinos and Society Program, the City of San Bernardino, California State University San Bernardino, and dozens of local stakeholders, with support from the James Irvine Foundation, this Playbook sets out concrete, actionable investments that advance climate readiness, boost equitable economic growth, and improve daily life for all residents.

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Why now?

Over the past year and a half, the federal government has embarked on a massive effort to accelerate climate action and equitable economic growth in American communities. This unprecedented level of federal funding has created new possibilities for transformative investment at scale. 



American Rescue Plan (ARPA)



Infrastructure Investment
and Jobs Act (IIJA) 



CHIPS and Science Act (CHIPS) 



Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)

Making the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is no simple task


Funds are being dispersed through dozens of different federal programs, each governed by different agencies with different application processes, delivery mechanisms, timelines, and reporting requirements. State governments have funds to disburse as well, both from federal allocations and through their own budgetary authority. 

If cities hope to maximize return on these extraordinary investments, they must organize now.

City Graphic Showing Funding Sources
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An innovative approach to transformative investment  

A growing number of cities throughout the United States are using Investment Playbooks to organize themselves for action


An Investment Playbook will help San Bernardino meet this unusual moment

The San Bernardino Investment Playbook offers a cohesive approach to climate action and economic recovery that leverages San Bernardino’s existing strengths and makes the most of public, private, and civic investment. Anchored in community priorities and distinctive local strengths, the Playbook highlights needed investments and explains how they can be staged and sequenced in order to deliver benefits that are more than the sum of their parts.


The Playbook also explains how to move from idea to action. It sets out a process for matching local projects with federal funding and other private, public, and civic resources. It also addresses a make-or-break factor—capacity to act—to ensure that projects are financed and delivered in a coordinated and timely fashion. 

Uses & Sources

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Coordinated investments that benefit everyone


Playbook investments were identified through more than 40 individual and group interviews with local stakeholders. Each project was selected based on its ability to:


Build on San
Bernardino's strengths


Leverage market momentum and work underway


Unlock federal, state, and local resources 

Drive equitable growth via community wealth-building strategies


Some projects focus on the downtown core, the geographic focus of this Playbook. Others address citywide concerns and capacity-building needs. Together these investments will strengthen infrastructure and climate readiness, alleviate housing shortages, boost innovation activity, encourage entrepreneurship, and improve opportunities and outcomes for all San Bernardino residents, regardless of where they live.

Three levels of project readiness

The Playbook’s 36 transformational investments represent the building blocks of a more sustainable and broadly prosperous future. Projects that made the cut took one of three forms:


These projects are largely complete, with clear design, costs, and plans for implementation


These intermediate-stage projects need to get specific on design and cost 


These early-stage projects need more development before they are ready to fund and implement


A new way of working

Conventional approaches have not led to better outcomes. Reliance on one-and-done planning, top-down decision making, and minimal coordination across projects has meant that investments do not benefit everyone and longstanding disparities remain unresolved.


Investment Playbooks offer a different approach. Based on community needs and local strengths, Playbooks address disparities and improve quality of life for all residents. What’s more, they are designed to evolve over time, coordinating and sequencing investments for maximum impact.

The first stage of an ongoing process

The San Bernardino Investment Playbook is a living document that will evolve over time, triggering new projects and unlocking new investment as new priorities surface. As ready-to-go projects get underway, last-mile projects will secure funds and exploratory projects will become more concrete.


Looking ahead, a more extensive design process will be needed to make the most of the recent influx of federal and state funding (e.g., CHIPS and Science Act, Inflation Reduction Act, California climate and housing legislation). The Playbook framework gives San Bernardino a way to identify new opportunities and get projects ready to go.  

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