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Coming Together for Richmond Youth

Richmond’s children, youth and young adults have long needed more life-changing services and opportunities. Now, local community based organizations, labor unions, and political leaders have come together and agreed to establish a Richmond Fund for Children and Youth in order to more effectively invest in our youth.

A diverse coalition including RYSE, SEIU Local 1021, APEN, ACCE and elected leaders including County Supervisor John Gioia and Richmond Vice-Mayor Melvin Willis have joined together to support two measures which will be on the June 2018 ballot:  

  • The Richmond Kids First Initiative and
  • A charter amendment revising Richmond Kids First

The goal of Kids First is to ensure that Richmond’s youth are physically, emotionally, mentally and socially healthy, educated, and live in stable, safe and supported families and communities.

The coalition has also explored how to raise additional revenue for the City to offset the costs of funding youth services under the Kids First Initiative.

What is the Richmond Kids First Initiative and the charter amendment revising Kids First?

The Kids First Initiative was drafted with input from local youth and youth-serving organizations and modeled after similar funds in San Francisco and Oakland. Youth and adult allies went door-to-door and collected about 14,000 signatures to put this measure on the ballot.

Kids First creates a dedicated funding source from the City’s general fund to support expanded services for youth and establishes a City operated Department of Children and Youth.

The charter amendment revising Kids First would do three things:

  • Removes the restriction on how much funding the City of Richmond can receive as well as the requirement that the City must partner with a non-profit
  • Adds a new requirement that the dedicated funding set aside only occurs after the passage of a general tax measure which increases revenues to the City
  • Delays the start date for the funding set aside until July 2021, or one fiscal year after the passage of a general tax measure, if no tax measure is passed by December 2020.

How much will be dedicated to youth services?

  • From July 2018 through June 2020, up to $950,000 would be spent to establish the new Department of Children and Youth, develop the community Strategic Investment Plan for youth, and create and support a community Oversight Board.
  • Starting in July 2021, 1% of the City’s unrestricted general purpose revenues
  • Starting in July 2022, 2% of the City’s unrestricted general purpose revenues
  • Starting in July 2023, 3% of the City’s unrestricted general purpose revenues
  • If a general tax measure increasing City revenues does not pass by December 2020, the set-aside will not start until the fiscal year after the passage of the tax measure
  • If the City’s revenues decrease by over 10% from previous year, the set-aside decreases down to 1% of general purpose revenues on a sliding scale.

Who will administer the Children’s Fund and decide how monies will be spent?

The Children’s Fund will be administered by the new Department of Children and Youth in the City Manager’s Office.     The City Council will appoint a 15 member community Oversight Board that will develop written policies and monitor the Fund to ensure community accountability and transparency.

After the development of a community Strategic Investment Plan, the Oversight Board will make spending recommendations to the City Council consistent with the community’s priorities. The City Council is responsible for final approval of the fund expenditures.

What types of activities and programs will be funded?

Monies will support services to children and youth up to 18 years old and their caregivers, and to disconnected transitional aged young adults through 24 years old.   The measures lists several categories of programs to be funded: violence prevention and response; education and job training; parent/guardian support; media arts, culture and technology; youth and family leadership; organizing and civic engagement; health and well-being; outdoor education and recreation; environmental health and justice; and deportation support.

How will youth programs and services be funded?

After discussions with local residents and studying what nearby cities have done, the coalition is currently recommending that a sugar-sweetened beverage distribution tax of one cent per ounce be placed on the November 2018 ballot.    Albany, Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco have recently passed a similar one cent per ounce tax.

This tax is different from Richmond’s previous 2012 soda tax measure which was a business license fee on retailers.   Instead, the tax would be levied on the distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages.  

The tax would not apply to baby formula, milk products (like chocolate milk), 100% natural fruit and vegetable juices (including aqua fresca), medical beverages, weight reduction beverages, and alcoholic beverages.   The tax would also not apply to distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages to small retailers.

The coalition continues to explore whether another type of tax to raise revenue would receive greater public support.