Updated: Feb 17, 2020
Thanks to our diverse coalition, the Schools & Communities First campaign is proud to announce that it has surpassed two key benchmarks: 500,000 signatures of support in just two months and more than 500 endorsers! Just a month ago, the campaign hit the 25% signature gathering threshold by submitting roughly 250,000 signatures of support. From San Diego to Humboldt County, coalition members from all backgrounds and sectors of the economy have mobilized thousands of volunteers to engage Californians everywhere, from grocery stores to holiday parties to festivals -- Californians can’t even do their errands these days without running into a signature gatherer right now.
This comes as the opposition has started using smoke and mirrors, and other scare tactics targeted at specific communities, to hide the fact that they’re led by a handful of powerful corporate interests desperate to protect their property tax loopholes and avoid paying their fair share.
But Californians know what Schools & Communities First means for the future of our state, and to shape this future in a way that best reflects the values we all hold dear. In this fight of a generation, here are just a few of the diverse coalition members who have launched signature gathering and organizing efforts recently:
Pastor Samuel Casey, Founder and Executive Director of Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE), on the Schools & Communities First initiative: “What we’re seeing from the opposition is akin to the fox guarding the henhouse. I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact 40 years of disinvestment has had on communities of color and our schools. Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE) was founded for a very specific reason: to leverage the strength of religious leaders to protect and revitalize our communities that we live, work, and worship in. That’s why our organization supports Schools & Communities First, and it’s why we just launched a new effort to organize congregations throughout the region in support of the initiative.”
Seng So, Statewide Organizer of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), speaking about the launching of signature gathering events: “One of our core missions at the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) is to ensure that Asian immigrant and refugee communities across California have access to quality health care, education and emergency responder services. That's why we are collecting signatures to qualify Schools and Communities First for the 2020 ballot. APEN has launched a new signature gathering effort across the Bay Area, already collecting hundreds of signatures to date. Our volunteers are hitting the streets every week to educate voters about the Schools and Communities First ballot initiative because we believe that our children deserve more!”
Maria Brenes, Executive Director for InnerCity Struggle, on signature gathering efforts: "The momentum supporting the Schools & Communities First initiative is growing. In the Eastside of Los Angeles, volunteers trained at InnerCity Struggle are being activated to educate voters about the opportunity to reclaim $12 billion every year for education and other vital services. It's inspiring that voters are responding positively and asking how they can help!"
John Ballon, small business owner, homeowner, and parent in Glendale: “As a small business owner, taxpayer, and homeowner, I’ve seen how 40 years of corporate property tax loopholes have shifted costs and created an unfair playing field. When the big corporations don’t pay their fair share, we have to make up the difference and it puts my business at a competitive disadvantage. The Schools & Communities First initiative is good for a business like mine because it institutes new small business tax relief and it would make the big corporation down the street pay the same market rate the rest of us are subject to – people who tell you otherwise are using scare tactics.”
These are just a few of the more than 500 diverse community leaders, coalition groups, and small businesses that have powered Schools & Communities First throughout the state to these significant achievements.