Silicon Valley Community Foundation engages in public policy conversation, hosting California gubernatorial debate

Californians will hear from candidates running to be their next governor during the first statewide-televised 2018 Gubernatorial Debate, co-hosted by Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) and NBC Bay Area, on May 8 at 6:30 p.m. PDT. The event will be moderated by Chuck Todd of NBC’s Meet the Press and broadcast live by NBC, KQED, and Telemundo affiliates statewide.

SVCF has always engaged our state capitol on the most pressing issues facing Californians, and this is an opportunity to hear directly from the state’s next chief executive on topics such as early childhood education, immigration and housing.

SVCF is dedicated to helping communities through our world-leading philanthropy, as well as advocacy for policies that will strengthen our communities now, and into the future.

One of the most pressing issues today for most Californians is housing affordability. SVCF has pushed for reforms to streamline local zoning laws and speed up development in areas that have failed to build enough housing for their growing population (listen to our recent podcast with Senator Weiner). We have championed state policies that encourage cities to be accountable to their housing goals and ensure we have the infrastructure in place to handle our cities’ growing density. We have to meet the challenge of creating more housing with a fresh approach. What is at risk is the diversity, inclusivity and vibrancy of our neighborhoods – central tenets and values to SVCF’s work.

The future of California’s economy also depends on the education of our workforce. SVCF has devoted significant time, funding and energy to promote policies that expand access to early childhood education and help keep students from disadvantaged communities enrolled in college-track high school courses in mathematics. This year our Choose Children 2018 initiative is aimed at ensuring California’s next governor stands up for children and makes future generations a statewide priority. Research is clear that investments in early childhood policies and programs can help stem poverty. Several years ago, we also partnered with State Senator Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles to enact legislation that would protect qualified students from being relegated to less challenging math classes – a first step in remedying the growing problem of “math misplacement,” which can impede a capable student’s progress both in learning math and advancing toward higher education and career goals.

The issue of immigration looms large in our state; we are home to the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the country. Our next governor has to assure thousands of families whose futures still remain uncertain in this volatile situation. In the last few months, SVCF has made aggressive moves to support DREAMers by pushing for permanent solutions on DACA at the federal level. SVCF has also helped provide resources for legal representation to families who are working to resolve their immigration status. In Silicon Valley, we understand that immigrants make us stronger and bring value to our economy, in tech and all other industries. It’s important for California’s next governor to better include immigrants into our society and push for national, comprehensive immigration reform.

We have remained focused on making sure all Californians have a fair shot at being contributing members of society and on removing unjust barriers to their success. In addition to our work on housing, education and immigration, we have also partnered with policymakers to curb predatory lending and ensure local ordinances that restrict growth of payday lenders in our communities. This year, we are also working to address inequities in the state’s traffic court system. The current system makes it more likely for low-income Californians to lose their driver’s licenses and suffer other serious penalties because of simple infractions. We are supporting legislation by Senator Bob Hertzberg of Los Angeles to require a court to determine a defendant’s ability to pay before issuing the fine. Hertzberg recently joined us on a podcast to talk about the issue.

The most impactful change we have made since SVCF was founded in 2007 is through our community investments. Last year we awarded $1.3 billion to nonprofit organizations through the generosity of SVCF’s individual and corporate donors. Locally, $436 million (34 percent) of the $1.3 billion supported nonprofit organizations in the nine counties of the San Francisco Bay Area, bringing the amount granted to nonprofits in California last year to $515 million. This formidable grantmaking has the power to enable large-scale community impact directly from Silicon Valley to the rest of the world. But we know, to make real and lasting change, we must have a voice in the policies that shape our state and we need to engage voters early in the process, so that together we will elect a governor that truly has our state, and all Californians, at heart.

From advocacy and public education campaigns to direct lobbying, we use all the tools in our philanthropic toolbox to solve our region’s and the state’s most challenging problems.

We hope you will join us for the May 8 gubernatorial debate, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. PDT. It’s a great opportunity to become informed and help shape priorities for the future of California. You can also be a part of the conversation by following us on Twitter and Facebook @siliconvalleycf and using #CAGovDebate.

More information: Silicon Valley Community Foundation and NBC Bay Area to Host California Gubernatorial Candidate Debate Moderated by NBC News’ Chuck Todd on May 8