Promoting Local Revenue Streams for Children, Youth, Families April, 2015




Audience cheering as Board of Supervisors votes for children.

On April 21, the  Napa Board of Supervisors considered a resolution brought forth by  Funding the Next Generation Napa , calling for the creation of a children's budget and the adoption of a Bill of Rights for Napa's children.  T he Supervisors looked out on an irresistible sea of yellow stickers saying in Spanish and English, "Nosotros   Nuestros Ninos." 


Supervisor Luce praised the group's strategy of starting with a vision and setting a baseline for children's services. Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht, who has been involved in the work of Funding the Next Generation for over a year, said the intent was to "develop a plan to ensure that the Bill of Rights become a reality."  President Dillon pointed out the difficulty of solving national issues and the need to look at what can be done locally.  Supervisor Pedroza reminded his colleagues of the overwhelming needs of Latino children, who represent half of the children in Napa County.

The data presented by the group reported that 25% of residents in Napa live in poverty - using a formula from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) which measures poverty by comparing the cost of living in a county to family income. (According to the PPIC, the only county with a higher rate using this measurement is LA.) 

Sara Cakebread gave a stirring speech on behalf of Funding the Next Generation Napa - saying, "By adopting the Children's Bill of Rights this morning, you will inspire all individuals and organizations in Napa County who work with, have or care about our children and families to adopt, promote and use the Bill of Rights as a guidepost for creating and implementing programs and policies that benefit our children."  The County staff was then directed by Supervisors to determine what is currently being spent on kids so gaps can be identified and strategies developed to fill them.

The Board of S
upervisors received a standing ovation when they unanimously passed the children's legislation.
(Left to right in back) Supervisors Pedroza, Dillon, Wagenknecht, and Luce listen intently as Joelle Gallagher, ED of Copy Family Center, and Sara Cakebread, Funding the Next Generation Napa (on right), report on needs of Napa's children



Sets stage for community engagement in budget process


A remarkable thing happened on April 14 in Del Norte County: The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed resolutions adopting a Bill of Rights for children and youth, and even more importantly, stating the following: "THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors will develop a Children's Budget as part of its annual budget process that focuses on prevention activities and that the County's community partners and stakeholders will have ample opportunity to provide input in the preparation of the Children's Budget."

David Finigan, Chair of Board of Supervisors sponsored the Bill of Rights and Children's Budget

Board President David Finigan said:
"We have given a lot of lip service to supporting children, and now we want to put actions behind it.  We need to start with a baseline - understanding what we are funding, what is effective, and more importantly, what we are missing.  We want to do real results-based budgeting - and the key is to follow the money - so we can then debate what policies we want, particularly what is prevention and what is intervention."


The  staff report to the Board of Supervisors stated:
"The idea is to create a more detailed budget that can be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors, public and county and partners and improves public engagement in the use of available financial resources specifically for children.  The budget...will allow the Board to identify priorities through a process of receiving input from partners, collaborators, County departments and the public." 

Said Patti Vernelson, the Executive Director of First 5 Del Norte, the moving force behind this accomplishment: "This action...represents over a year of work and tremendous commitment by David Finigan to push new awareness of the rights of children and youth and how we spend public funds.  If budgets are a reflection of our values, this will hopefully begin a new community dialog and advocacy around funding for children and youth."


This accomplishment has created a platform for the community to advocate for its priorities.  Community voices will now have a forum and the information to change the fiscal landscape.


On March 27, Funding the Next Generation held its second learning network convening, with representatives of communities ranging from Kern to San Joaquin to Humboldt to Solano.  It was a "get down to business" event - with detailed sessions on analyzing local budgets and the timeline and steps for ballot measures.  


The meeting opened with the Ghandhi quote:

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."  It was a perfect sentiment for the day - as community members struggle with the early stages of sweeping policy change.


Political strategist, Larry Tramutola, engaged meeting attendees in a fun game of 'Whack-a-Mole' where people identified the obstacles they were facing in their work. Whether it was competing interests, finding volunteers or a lack of transparency on local budgets, Larry urged people not to be discouraged by those pesky moles. As his mentor Fred Ross, Sr., often said, "If you wait until you have all the people and resources to go ahead with something, you will never get there because you didn't fill time with the action needed to get you there."

Margaret Brodkin, Funding the Next Generation Director, and Jim Keddy, VP of The California Endowment, discuss lessons learned.

On March 31 in New Orleans, Funding the Next Generation and the Forum for Youth Investment sponsored what we believe was the first national training on developing local dedicated funding streams for children and youth.  Representatives from over 20 local communities attended - from Detroit to Sunflower County in Mississippi, Leon County in Florida, to Boston.  They learned from the materials created by Funding the Next Generation (assessing readiness, steps on the journey, decision matrix ) - hearing California stories, as well as the stories about the Broward County Children's Services Council in Florida and the Portland Children's Levy in Oregon.  Margaret Brodkin was joined by staff from TAYSF (Transitional Age Youth San Francisco) in presenting how the city developed a Children's Fund.  

TAY SF Fellows, Mia "Tu Mutch" Satya and Jessica Allen, joined Brodkin in New Orleans and described the role young people can play in winning support for dedicated funding.


TIPS from Dave Metz, FM3 Research

Things to think about when deciding whether to do a poll:


*     What is it that you want to learn by doing a poll?  What is it that you don't know about public opinion that you would like to find out?  What decisions might you be able to make if you knew the answers?

*     Is there any existing polling you can find and review - which might either prevent you from having to develop your own poll, or at least allow you to build on (and not repeat) past efforts?

*      What can you learn from successful polling that has been done in other jurisdictions? Are there questions or approaches that yielded valuable insights elsewhere that you can integrate?

*     Would the poll be for external use (sharing with external decision-makers who could give you money, endorse, or vote to put your measure on the ballot) or for internal use (helping your coalition to make decisions about whether to move forward, how to write the measure, or how to plan for a campaign)

*      If you are comfortable with all of the findings being public, is there a public agency that could fund the polling effort?

*      Designing and reviewing the findings of polls can be a great way to unify a coalition and build consensus on a strategic approach - are there partners you should invite into the polling design process in order to strengthen relationships and resolve potential disagreements?

*      How can the poll help you with a "Plan B?"  You want an investment in research to provide multiple and lasting benefits - if the poll shows a ballot measure isn't viable, are you asking other questions that may show you another path forward, or at least give you helpful insights on messaging and communications?

If you are interested in learning more about Funding the Next Generation and helping your city or county explore the potential of a dedicated public funding stream for children, youth and families, please contact:

Margaret Brodkin headshot at desk
Founder and Director 
Funding the Next Generation      
phone: 415-794-4963 



What we have learned in the past six months.


Kids poll really well -
We learned the power of polling on kids issues -  results are so impressive that they immediately give you credibility - and quickly get you beyond the "ignore you" and "laugh at you" stages of organizing.

Walk and chew gum at the same time -  There is no time to waste when involved in either a budget or ballot process - the dates are set by the government, and there is no deviation.   You must work continuously along the parallel paths of research, organizing, public education, and policy development.

Staff is essential - If you want to succeed, it has to be someone's job to wake up every morning and take the next step.

Inside-outside game - Success takes champions on the inside and advocates, activists and organizers on the outside.

Look for the sweet spot - between what you want and what you have to do to make it politically possible.  

It's a big lift - There are only two ways to get money: Reallocate existing dollars (or some would say "steal" other people's money); or impose a new revenue stream (some would rightfully call that "a tax."  Both are hard.

But don't let resistance stop you - or you will never get anywhere.

It's never over - 23 years after San Francisco passed the first dedicated children's fund in California and the third time it was on the ballot - it was still improving - adding money, serving transitional age youth, and expanding transparency.


Ed Harrington, public finance expert and consultant to Funding the Next Generation leads workshop on March 27
Learn what is currently being spent so that you can identify gaps and document need for additional revenue.

But don't get lost in the details of the budgets - push for summary documents that lay out the big picture of uses (where the money goes) and sources (where the money comes from) and functions.

Focus on the city or county's discretionary dollars in areas you are interested in - that is often hard to determine just looking at numbers.

Get help - Ask (nicely) financial officials to put the needed information together, or have local elected champions make the "ask" as just happened in Napa and Del Norte.

If you want to ask for money through the local budget process, first understand the budget timeline:

  • July - June: City/County sends departments budget instructions;
  • October - December: Departments plan budgets and hold hearings;
  • April - May: County/City budget office and Executive branch develops budget;
  • June: Board of Supervisors or City Council deliberate on and pass budget.

Hint: Don't want until public hearings at the end to start the advocacy.  You can even seek input into the budget instructions the executive branch delivers to its departments.



What does it take to win?

Winning takes vision, discipline, and daily effort.  It takes research; you can't assume you know everything.  Most importantly, you need to strategically blend your limited resources of time, people and money to achieve your goal.


Is grassroots organizing pass??

Grassroots organizing is the most important thing we do (at Tramutola Advisors in getting ballot measures passed).  It moves people to action.  Direct mail, social media and advertising are tools that have their place, but if you want to inspire people to take meaningful action, one-on-one organizing is essential.


Funding the Next Generation
The nation's first initiative to help communities develop local public funding streams for children, youth and families.

Collaborating Partners
- California Child Care Resource and Referral Network
- California Coverage and Health Initiatives
- California Network of Family Strengthening Networks
- California School-Age Consortium
- Children Now 
-  CA Children's Defense Fund 
- First 5 Association of California
FM3 Research
 - Prevent Child Abuse California  
- Kidango
- Tramutola Advisors
- The Children's Partnership
- Youth Leadership Institute 

Pro-Bono LegalTeam
  Orrick Public Finance Group 

The California Endowment
S.H. Cowell Foundation