Driving together toward impact: Funders’ briefing on the Schools and Communities First initiative

Communities First
Judith Bell, Vice President of Programs, The San Francisco Foundation, Gina Dalma, Vice President of Government Relations, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Amy Fitzgerald, Senior Program Officer, East Bay Community Foundation

On May 14, SVCF convened staff from 10 partner foundations to learn more about the Schools and Communities First Initiative. SVCF fully supports this initiative, which if successful, could bring an additional $11 billion per year to communities to invest in K-12 schools and community colleges, support human services and help ensure the continued growth and competitiveness of innovative companies.

The initiative would achieve this by closing a loophole in California’s current system of taxing commercial property. You can read a report on this topic from SVCF and the Make It Fair coalition here.

The Schools and Communities First Initiative would close this corporate property tax loophole that has existed for decades in California because of Proposition 13, and it would do so while guaranteeing protections for homeowners, residential renters, agricultural land, and small businesses. Proposition 13 was passed in 1978 and initiated sweeping changes to the California property tax system. The proposition passed amidst a tidal wave of anti-government, anti-tax popular sentiment in California and across our nation. The proposition’s fiscal impact on our state has been significant. California’s overall revenue per person has decreased from $790 dollars when Proposition 13 was enacted, to $640 in 2014-2015.

There is ample research pointing to Proposition 13 as a key driver of disinvestment at the local and state levels, which in turn has starved our education, health services, and other community systems for the past 40 years. 

SVCF is joining forces with our colleagues at The San Francisco Foundation and East Bay Community Foundation and calling upon other partners to join this movement. Working together, we will have a better chance of success – and success would mean more than $11 billion dollars allocated to our schools, community colleges and community services such as health clinics, trauma care centers, parks, libraries and public safety. 

For more information and to get involved visit schoolsandcommunitiesfirst.org