Inspiring Conference Marks Milestone in Children's Fund Movement

Published:  May 24, 2016

On May 9, 200 advocates, elected officials, and children's service providers from all over the state gathered at San Francisco State University to share what we have all learned about developing local Children's Funds.  

Click here for power points presented at the conference.

Gavin Newson 86x120The highlight was an inspirational speech by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom.  He held the audience in the palm of his hand for over an hour.  Some of his many insights:

  • The San Francisco Children's Fund is a bottom-up story.  Where the state walked away, San Francisco walked in and created the Children's Fund.  We had the resources and flexibility to do everything from fund salad bars in schools to early care. Most solutions to problems come from the local level
  • Great progress comes from leaders in all aspects of life.  Politician merely create the conditions where success becomes irresistible.
  • The "achievement gap" is really a "life gap."  The state needs a comprehensive strategic plan and more aggressive leadership for supporting children.  I want to create the most comprehensive plan ever presented in the state.  California is way behind other states when it comes to caring for children.  I am working with businesses in the state to understand the scope of the problem and support solutions
  • Preschool is important but a 3 hour program is not enough.  We need prenatal to college. And poor quality can do more harm than good
  • We need a constitutional amendment to increase the voter threshold on revenue to support human services.
  • Last year we had more preschoolers shot and killed than officers in the line of duty.  We need to treat ammunition the way we treat firearms - we need regulations.
  • Successful people are committed; interested people find excuses.  Committed people find ways to get things done.

Five local elected officials shared their advice and rationale for supporting Children's Funds.  Dr. Tony Iton, Vice President of The California Endowment and panel facilitator, opened by pointing to the important role of women elected officials in supporting education and needs of children and youth.

Marin Supervisor Steve Kinsey emphasized the need to be prepared for the long haul.  He said those outside government need to be the inspiration, while insiders are the drivers.  "Also, find some "angels" for the cause who can help open doors."

Jay Schenirer, City Council member of Sacramento, is leading the Children and Youth Fund campaign there by proposing a tax on marijuana sales.  He has been surprised by the strong opposition from the City Manager, business and community groups, including pastors, the labor council, the Chamber of Commerce, non-profits, charter schools, the police and fire unions and even fellow Council members.  He says, "We must redefine public safety" and start electing people who walk into office with the right thinking on investing in youth and education instead of only the number of police on the streets.

Solano Supervisor Kathy Miller, first female supervisor in 30 years, has polled on the proposal that funds for children would be set-aside only from the her county's increases in dollars over the next 10 years.  She said the only thing that polled higher than that was potholes.  Miller talked about the importance of framing, saying they had to turn their Children's Bill of Rights into a Resolution of Commitment to satisfy one conservative Board member who didn't want the Bill of Rights to imply entitlement.

Supervisor Shirlee ZaneSonoma Supervisor Shirlee Zane emphasized the importance of the theme of "upstream investments," a good PR campaign, and "packing the chambers."  

Solano Supervisor Linda Seifert recommended developing a good business case and enlisting support of the cities in the county.  "You have to compete with streets and infrastructure."

The preceding was an excerpt from the Funding the Next Generations Newsletter