City announces $25M Children's Fund grants

Laura Perez said her pregnancy at age 16 would likely have forced her out of high school if she had not found support through the Family Service Agency of San Francisco.

The nonprofit helped her get medical support, but also told her about a public high school, Hilltop, created for teenage mothers.

“I would have been stressed out, thinking, ‘Who is going to watch my baby?’ They helped me stay in school,” Perez said.

On Tuesday, city officials announced that $25.1 million was awarded to 170 community-based organizations — including Family Services Agency — courtesy of The City’s Children’s Fund, an annual general fund allocation for children, teens and families approved by voters in 1991.

The $25.1 million will support a range of services and programs, including childcare, after-school activities, tutoring, youth employment, recreation, arts, sports, family support centers, truancy reduction, gang and violence prevention and help for homeless families.

The Children’s Fund grants are allocated every three years, and are given based on a needs assessment developed by the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families.

This grant cycle, applications for more than 450 programs were received, totaling $58 million in requests.

DCYF Executive Director Margaret Brodkin, who campaigned for the creation of the Children’s Fund in 1991, when she was the head of Coleman Advocates, a San Francisco-based family-focused nonprofit, said it was “heartbreaking” to reject so many applications.

“The process made it abundantly clear that there continues to be unmet needs,” Brodkin said.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, who was on hand for the grant announcement, said he was “discouraged we couldn’t meet all the needs. … But $25-plus million is a lot of money for these programs.”

More money for families needs to be carved out of next year’s budget, said Mauricio Vela, a former school board candidate and organizer for the Family Budget Coalition, which represents a number of San Francisco organizations, including Coleman Advocates.

Coalition members held a press conference Tuesday on the steps of City Hall and called for new and expanded services for families and for violence prevention.

beslinger@examiner.com

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