Sacramento nonprofits and education officials are fighting to pass Measure L in November, which would increase funding for youth mental health.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — An estimated $10 million in annual funding for youth development and wellness programs in Sacramento hinges on Measure L, a ballot proposal that would guarantee funding equivalent to 40% of corporate tax revenue of cannabis in the city.
When city council members approved the measure in July for voters to decide the November 2022 ballot, local nonprofits and youth organizations focused on mental health and wellbeing were there.
“The City of Sacramento has really shown a lot of leadership around the new programming, but it all feels a bit unique – where they’ll be releasing funds for the community, but it’s still like, ‘We can’t guarantee that we will have that funding again,” Rachel Minnick, director of the PRO Youth and Families collective, told ABC10.
Having supported youth welfare ballot measures in the past, she said local education and nonprofit leaders have turned to the Sac Kids First coalition to help them get started. their goal to pass the measure L.
The coalition has 36 Sacramento-based organizations and nonprofits, including more than 1,900 advocates and supporters.
The coalition’s past efforts to push Measure G in 2020 have made young people aware of the mental health resources Sacramento lacks, Minnick said, but long-term sustainable funding remains scarce. Voters did not approve of Measure G.
“(City officials) are trying to squeeze some unspent money out of you and redirect it back to you, but there’s no reliable source,” she said. “So year after year, month after month, many community organizations depend on and benefit from many sources of funding, including the City of Sacramento.”
Funding for Youth Wellness and Mental Health in Sacramento
Nonprofits and community organizations that run youth wellness programs in Sacramento typically get funding in the form of grants and donations. Local programs include homelessness prevention, addiction treatment and more with the overarching goal of supporting youth mental health, Sac Kids First coordinator Monica Mares told ABC10.
However, much of the funds needed to maintain operations come from one-time grants.
For fiscal year 2022/23, the Youth Development Office budget has been reduced to $831,079, from the last two fiscal years when the budget was $1,552,594.
“We want to establish a stable and consistent fund in the city so that nonprofit organizations as well as city agencies, city programs and services can get the funds they need to run their programs,” she said. declared. “Because, of course, this one isn’t limited to nonprofits. It’s also city agencies as well as existing programs in the city that also need to be funded.”
According to the City of Sacramento fiscal budget for 2022/23, funds for youth mental health and wellness include:
- $9.4 million for youth, workforce training and gang prevention
- $6 million of the 2020/21 fiscal year mid-year allocation continues to be administered by the city for child and youth services, including the Youth Development Plan Funding Grant Program of the city of Sacramento.
- $831,079 for the Municipal Youth Development Office
- $568,850 for mental wellness programs
- $425,000 to city districts to run youth engagement and summer programs.
- $100,000 for a pilot youth engagement program and service program.
Nonprofits and local organizations receiving city grants from its 2022/23 budget include:
The city also continues to manage $10.8 million in Measure U funds received in June 2019, according to city officials, and six workers currently make up the city’s youth development division office.
Two years before Measure L, Measure G was placed on the 2020 ballot for Sacramento voters to decide whether 2.5% of city revenue should be spent on youth programs.
Under Measure G, a committee of mostly people under the age of 25 would decide how the money is spent every three years – pending city council approval. Measure G was unsuccessful, however.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg, former mayors and several city council members were against the measure. Council members Jay Schenirer, Eric Guerra and Allen Warren were in favor of the measure.
“Since March 2020, we have been working closely with the mayor as well as other elected officials … to essentially create a committee among us to form another version of a child suffrage measure that Sacramento voters will see on their ballot (this year),” Mares said.
Coalition Champion Sac Kids First Mesure L
If passed in November, Measure L would address what local leaders see as an ongoing lack of funding for youth mental health and wellness programs.
Other local leaders like City Council member Jeff Harris and former Mayor Heather Fargo say limiting $10 million in city funds to youth programs would reduce their ability to meet projected budget shortfalls.
In a recent ballot pitch form submitted to the city, Harris and Fargo go on to say that “ballot box budgeting is fiscally irresponsible,” and the measure is an attempt to fund nonprofits with tax dollars. taxpayers collected to provide essential municipal services.
For Andrew Avila, policy and advocacy manager of Improve Your Future, Measure L is about expanding access to mental health programs for black and brown youth with consistent funding. Improve Your Tomorrow is part of the Sac Kids First coalition.
Consistent funding is not the only problem. Overcoming the stigma of mental health treatment through education is essential.
It wasn’t until 2020 that mental health began to reach a new level of prevalence, sparking renewed interest in education on the subject.
The director of the PRO Youth and Families collective, Rachel Minnick, described COVID as triggering an “explosion” in the discourse on mental health.
“Black and brown youth and young men of color have historically struggled with a myriad of mental health issues, including access to resources,” Avila told ABC10. “It wasn’t until the pandemic, which exacerbated all of these issues and brought them to light, that we were able to understand how badly young black and brown people had it.”
Previously working in the California State Legislature, Avila said some lawmakers viewed mental health issues as a response-based issue rather than one requiring prevention and intervention.
Some of the ways members of the Sac Kids First coalition are campaigning for Measure L include knocking on doors, hosting community events and posting on social media.
“As a coalition, we met with members of the city council. We let them know exactly what we were asking for and got their feedback on the impact it might have on young people in their neighborhood,” the coordinator said. by Sac Kids First, Monica Mares. “Fortunately, we got the support of eight of the nine elected leaders.”
The Sacramento Child and Youth Health and Safety Act (Measure L) is expected to be one of several measures in place for a vote on the California ballot on Nov. 8.
For more information on the L measurement, click here.
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