by MEDA Chief Strategy Officer Richard Raya
(MEDA is the backbone agency of the Mission Promise Neighborhood)

I’m thrilled to announce the It Takes A Village Act, AB 2517, and grateful for Assemblymember Mia Bonta’s leadership. This legislation proposes state funding for up to 10 new and existing Promise Neighborhoods in California, at up to $3 million per community annually, along with additional funding for regional cradle-to-career networks.

Now more than ever, we must come together in our communities to support each other. I’ve seen firsthand how we came together in the Mission District to do just that. The It Takes A Village Act will scale this approach to reach even more communities, creating a vanguard for a truly equitable recovery. This initiative is being supported by a coalition consisting of End Child Poverty in CaliforniaCalifornia Promise Neighborhood NetworkStriveTogether and others.

Here in San Francisco, with Mission Promise Neighborhood, we are the quarterback for a team of 15 community-based organizations, providing a seamless web of support for low-income families. We do so by bringing together and fully coordinating early learning centers, community health clinics, the school district and the City.

We connect students and their families to affordable housing, mental health services, tenants’ rights, job training, small business loans, tax assistance and more. For example, we helped families secure $5M in tax refunds in the last year alone. Over the years, we helped families complete 26,000 affordable-housing applications, and eventually saw the kinder-readiness rate increase to 71%, compared to the neighborhood average of 41%, and the graduation rate increase from 68% to 86%.

When COVID-19 first arrived, it hit our community the hardest. Although Latinos only made up 15% of the city’s population, they were more than 50% of the COVID-positive cases because of their crowded living conditions and service-sector jobs that could not be done from home. The trust that our Promise Neighborhood built with the community, and the networked approach we had developed with other agencies, put us in a position to reach these families, and to work with the City to play a central role in distributing emergency resources to these hard-to-reach families. This included $8M in income-replacement funds to 6,000 families, allowing residents to quarantine at home when needed – and $9M in relief funds for nearly 300 small business owners.    

We came together as a community – a village – to provide for our neighbors who were in greatest need. This is good government. It’s community-driven, collaborative, data-informed and accountable to results. The It Takes a Village Act will institutionalize this approach so that it is not limited to a few lucky communities, but scaled to reach more of our hardest-hit communities. Ultimately, this movement is not only about community building, it’s also about world-building. Our hope is that we are contributing to a more just, humane and collaborative world. 


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