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Updated: Feb 17, 2020

Schools & Communities First collected roughly 250,000 signatures in only one month


In another sign of the campaign’s strength and growing momentum, Schools & Communities First officially hit the 25% signature gathering benchmark earlier than expected — collecting nearly 250,000 signatures in roughly one month. The campaign hit this benchmark on November 20th and was confirmed by the California Secretary of State’s office on November 27th.


Californians throughout the state have been submitting their signatures of support at breakneck speed for the initiative to reclaim $12 billion every year for their schools and local communities by closing corporate property tax loopholes. Hitting this critical benchmark at this early phase of the campaign was achieved due to the strong, diverse coalition backing the initiative and the critical volume of grassroots volunteers on the ground throughout the state. Schools & Communities First will continue engaging Californians and collecting signatures of support to exceed the roughly one million signatures required to gain access to the November ballot for 2020.


“Hitting this critical 25% signature gathering benchmark at such a quick rate is really a testament to the momentum behind Schools & Communities First and the strong, diverse statewide coalition that has been powering this movement,” said Schools & Communities First Communications Director Alex Stack. “The writing is on the wall: Californians are ready to reclaim $12 billion every year for schools and local communities by closing corporate tax loopholes. This development is another big win for Schools & Communities First.” 

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.

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

In another sign that the initiative to reclaim $12 billion for schools and local communities continues to gain momentum throughout California and attract the support of the state’s most influential leaders, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti just endorsed Schools & Communities First.


Mayor Garcetti knows better than most what the Schools & Communities First initiative represents, and his endorsement echoes what mayors, elected officials, and community leaders throughout the state have been saying all along: California’s schools and local communities need to reclaim the $12 billion per year from corporations exploiting tax loopholes in order to provide world-class education and address communities’ most pressing needs. Mayor Garcetti also emphasized the importance of the initiative’s protections for residents and tax relief for small businesses:


“I am proud to strongly support the Schools & Communities First campaign, which prioritizes our kids and communities over corporate tax loopholes. This historic initiative will generate more than $12 billion every year for public schools and local services to house the homeless, maintain our streets and respond to emergencies while protecting homeowners and renters and providing a critical tax break for small business owners. It's time we had the resources needed to invest in thriving schools, safe neighborhoods and vital local services that benefit all Californians.”


This endorsement follows a series of successful events throughout the state kicking off efforts to collect 1.6 million signatures of support and a spate of endorsements for Schools & Communities First from leading presidential candidates, elected officials throughout the state, some of the most influential organizations in California, community leaders, and more. 

Schools & Communities First Communications Director Alex Stack issued the following statement:


"Mayor Garcetti’s strong endorsement is another huge boost of momentum for the Schools & Communities First campaign to close corporate loopholes and reclaim $12 billion for our schools and local communities. With the mayor of California's largest city behind this initiative, the strength and diversity of our coalition – comprised of teachers, parents, community leaders, organized labor, leading presidential candidates, small business owners, and more – is growing throughout the state. Mayors are on the front line of addressing many of California’s most pressing challenges, and they know that this initiative is a historic step towards investing in our future.”


The Schools & Communities First initiative reclaims $12 billion every year for California’s schools and local communities by closing commercial property tax loopholes benefiting a fraction of corporations and wealthy investors. The initiative benefits residents and small businesses by exempting homeowners and renters from any changes while implementing new tax relief for small businesses.


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