Pollsters, policy makers and educators gathered at the Seven Hills Conference Center on Monday to speak to a packed room about strategies to create funding streams for children through an organization called Funding the Next Generation.
“The basic premise of this effort is that this is a major social justice issue,” said conference organizer and FNG founder Margaret Brodkin.
“What our budgets look like is a reflection of our values and frankly in every community we’re valuing the wrong thing,” said Brodkin. “We’re putting way too much money on punishment and way too much money intervening way down the line and almost nothing in prevention.”
Brodkin, who is also an adjunct faculty member at SF State in the School of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, said the conference reflected a major shift in policy in what can be done at the local level.
FNG shapes policy to support locally funded, self-sustaining services like early childhood education, health care, violence prevention, parental support, and afterschool and summer programs. While Oakland and San Francisco have already established such services, Brodkin has a much more ambitious goal, with 38 communities currently participating in training and conferences on how to create change in their communities.
“Let’s see what we can do around the state,” said Brodkin. “The idea is if we have some successes in November, it has a kind of ripple effect.”