Vote Yes on Proposition C
I was coming up on my second year at JVS – way back in 2000 – when I got a call from Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth. They were looking for young people to talk about the importance of the Children’s Fund to potential supporters and policymakers. What’s the Children’s Fund I wondered?
Turns out, the Children’s Fund is the most important piece of budgetary legislation to support children in San Francisco. Initially passed in 1991 as a response to inadequate and inconsistent local funding for children and youth services, the Children’s Fund provides a voter-approved, property tax set-aside to support critical services such as health and wellness, after school programs, violence prevention – and what I care about most – helping young people get jobs.
Jobs help young people think about new possibilities for their future, careers they may never have thought of, or considered out of reach. Jobs help young people develop communication, problem solving and financial management skills. Jobs foster pride, sense of accomplishment and independence. And, very importantly, working helps youth to develop positive values and behaviors about money, and to connect with positive role models. It’s the foundation they need to become adults.
Unfortunately, many youth in San Francisco do not get the opportunity to work. In San Francisco, approximately 7,000 youth are neither working nor in school. Nationally, teen employment has stayed anchored at record lows the last several years, creating a generation of youth with lower lifetime earnings and fewer opportunities in the years ahead.
The Children’s Fund tackles this problem head on. This past summer, 7,600 youth worked as part of the Mayor’s Jobs + Initiative, and annually over 9,000 teens are connected with skill-building opportunities, paid jobs and internships. At JVS, I lead a team of 11 people, who support more than 600 youth each year. We work closely with the San Francisco Unified School District, community partners and employers to help youth with disabilities, foster youth and youth not on track to graduate. We help them get the training and experiences they need to prepare for adulthood. Our youth work with San Francisco Department of Recreation and Parks, CVS, Boys and Girls Clubs, The Bike Hut and more than 80 other companies. Without the Children’s Fund, these important programs and the youth they support would be at risk.
Nearly fifteen years later, Proposition C – The Children and Families First Initiative – again asks voters to re-authorize the Children’s Fund. I’m more than a bystander this time. I’ve been working for 2 years with other community leaders, policymakers and youth to make sure this initiative got on the ballot. I’ve smothered my social media networks with information about Prop C, and I’ve gone door-to-door in my neighborhood, telling people what these funds mean to the young people in my city. I’ve seen the lives that are changed every day when a young person is able to work, earn money and plan a better future. This time, I’m all in.
With more two decades of success and great need remaining in our community, it is essential that San Francisco voters pass Prop C. Children can’t vote, so you must. Learn more at http://www.ourchildrenourcity.com.