Throughout my career, I have been committed to preserving watersheds and natural spaces, while ensuring that the public and our young people have access to these special places. There are many ways to support children in the outdoors, and I invite you to join in defending the youth of Santa Cruz by voting yes on Measure A on November 2. Voters registered in the city of Santa Cruz can vote in person or via postal ballot for this special election.
A yes to measure A will preserve the Santa Cruz Children’s Fund. In November 2017, our Santa Cruz City Council approved the Santa Cruz Children’s Fund using part of the existing cannabis trade tax to generate funds specifically for our children. The Children’s Fund has been extremely helpful to our community, creating scholarships for low-income youth for after-school programs and summer camps, among other opportunities, and providing grants for childcare. to essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I am especially grateful for the scholarships offered to low income youth to participate in parks and recreation programs. Reducing the barriers that limit access to the outdoors and cultivating a relationship with nature will bring long-term benefits to these children and our community as a whole. I imagine a kid who could take swimming lessons for free who might not have been able to otherwise.
This child will feel comfortable in the water and will be able to become a teenager who will play freely in our bay and along our coasts. As adults, they enjoy the many physical and mental health benefits that these skills provide and may be more likely to advocate for the environment and the well-being of others as well. A seemingly minor decision to take a course has now changed the course of the recipient’s relationship with nature forever.
A yes vote on Measure A will protect the Santa Cruz Children’s Fund through the designation of voters, and not just at the discretion of current or future city council members. The measure includes a community watch committee that will provide input and expertise from community leaders on how annual revenues are spent. Measure A does not propose an increase in the commercial tax on cannabis or any other tax.
Designating fund allocations specifically for children is a growing movement as jurisdictions recognize that they underfund the needs of children who cannot vote and represent themselves in decision-making.
Cities and counties across the state and nation are generating the political will to make early childhood and children’s education a priority, including in San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, Sacramento, Seattle, Portland, San Antonio and to Hartford, Connecticut. These funds can be approved by the board and are offered or generated from a variety of revenue sources including property and sales taxes, among others.
On November 2, a yes to measure A would also go down in history. The city of Santa Cruz would become the first jurisdiction in California with a voter-approved designated children’s fund that uses part of an existing cannabis trade tax. This is not surprising, as Santa Cruz is a community that continues to demonstrate exemplary leadership in solving complex social issues.
When we created the Santa Cruz Children’s Fund, we had no idea our future would be marked by a global pandemic and devastating forest fires. Having this support network already in place has been a saving grace that has come to the aid of our youth and families when they need it most. For example, in 2020, the Santa Cruz Children’s Fund provided $ 30,317 for approximately 100 scholarships.
The beneficiaries were either income-qualifying families or experiencing financial hardship, including the impacts of COVID-19 and the CZU fire. Also in 2020, the same amount of $ 30,317 was provided in funding to Thrive by Three, which in turn distributed to 11 child care providers, providing care to a total of 178 children.
In its first year, 2018-2019, the Santa Cruz Children’s Fund provided $ 15,000 to the Neighborhood Childcare Center to maintain the program’s sliding scale fee structure to ensure child care is provided to various family structures. from different socio-economic backgrounds, $ 5,000 to the Toddler Care Center to provide scholarships to low-income families, enabling them to access high-quality early education, and $ 3,000 to the Foster Grandparent program to improve academic skills first, second and third grade children in the primary school district of the city of Santa Cruz who had fallen behind in school.
All members of the Santa Cruz City Council have approved measure A, recognizing the value it brings. The fund will continue to support innovative after-school and child care programs that benefit our families and children.
With success and opportunities early in life, our children can grow up feeling secure and supported for the things they want to accomplish. Please vote for the future of families and children in Santa Cruz. Join me and all of the current City Council of the City of Santa Cruz in supporting Measure A.
To learn more about the Santa Cruz Children’s Fund or to endorse Measure A, visit yesonsantacruzchildrensfund.org.
The Mayor’s Message is a Sunday column written by the Mayor of Santa Cruz, Donna Meyers.