Over 20 years ago, one of California’s largest city’s took on a huge task- find a way to create a dedicated funding stream for youth programming.
Margaret Brodkin, a social worker, helped pass an amendment to the city charter to create the Children’s Fund in San Francisco in 1991. Brodkin realized that she needed to help the San Franciscan youth by finding a budget process that works how the government works after losing year long battle struggles with the city.
“It’s a quilt of inadequate funding for young people.” Brodkin said.
Brodkin’s other titles would be 26 years as Director of Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth in San Francisco, 1/2 years as Director of San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth & Their Families, 3 years as Director of New Day for Learning, and most recently is a project to promote local dedicated funding streams for children, youth and families throughout California called Funding the Next Generation.
Since many people did not support the decision of putting the charter amendment on the ballot, Brodkin had no choice but to raise 68,000 signatures to get it on the ballot. Together with some of the cites children, Brodkin wheeled in the 68,000 signatures in red wheelbarrows to City Hall and got it passed. In 2000, the Children’s Fund was renewed overwhelmingly by the voters, passing by 74%.
“(The passing of the ballot) is a wonderful example of you take the lead, and the people will follow.” said Brodkin.
Other cities in the nation have replicated the San Francisco model with varying degrees of success.