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SF city youth programs get $377 million in funding over next 5 years

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Interim Mayor Mark Farrell gathered with other city leaders Thursday to announce $377 million in new funding for youth programs over the next five years. (Scott Morris/Bay City News)

Hundreds of millions of property tax dollars earmarked for youth services has been awarded to dozens of San Francisco nonprofits which will help fund after school programs, provide job opportunities and fund other support for young San Franciscans for years to come, city officials announced Thursday.

“When we are funding these programs we are not only investing in our residents, we are investing in the future of San Francisco,” interim Mayor Mark Farrell, flanked with students, said Thursday at a news conference held outside James Denman Middle School to announce the new funding.

The funding comes through Proposition C, a 2014 ballot measure passed by 74 percent of San Francisco voters that extended the city’s Children’s Fund until 2041. It also raised the revenue for the Children’s Fund collected from 3 percent of assessed property value to 4 percent.

The funds are then distributed by the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families, or DCYF, which administers it to community organizations providing services to children, youth, transitional age youth and their families — which includes people up to age 24.

DCYF executive director Maria Su said the ballot measure mandated that the department go through an extensive process to identify the areas of greatest need, so she and her staff spoke to school officials, other city agencies and held community meetings to determine where the funds should be spent.

Last year, DCYF issued a request for proposals and received nearly 700 proposals that would have cost $186 million each year. Eventually 151 nonprofit agencies were awarded $75 million per year for 294 programs.

“Our funding decisions were guided by the population-level data that we track regularly, and by intentionally listening to community members’ needs,” Su said in a statement. “We believe that the continuum of services that our grantees will provide for our children and youth through their development will make San Francisco an even greater place to grow up.”

The programs funded include expanding the Beacon Community School strategy — an experimental model developed in New York that turns schools into vibrant community hubs through extensive programs in the mornings, evenings and weekends.

James Denman Middle School, where city leaders held their news conference, is one of nine Beacon schools already in San Francisco. The funds announced today will triple the number of Beacon schools in San Francisco to 27, which will include all middle schools and all high-need elementary schools, Su said.

Dante Calloway, who grew up in San Francisco and is now a leadership pathways specialist at the OMI/Excelsior Beacon Center, said he would have liked to have the school grounds open on weekends when he was young.

“It’s wonderful to hear the schools are opened up on the weekends because I used to jump over the fence just to play basketball,” Calloway said. “Now I know for a fact that San Francisco is definitely invested in our young people.”

The funds will also go to support the Young Adult Court program, a model that offers case management and support services as an alternative to detention. The collaborative program includes participation from the public defender’s office and the district attorney’s office.

“The more a young person cycles through the jails in our system, it is so much more cost-effective to support them on the front end right away than to wait to let things deteriorate,” Su said.

-Scott Morris

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