The Human Rights Commission, advised by the community, aims to improve outcomes for Black youth and their families
San Francisco – Mayor London N. Breed and Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton announced on Feb. 25 the city’s plan for reinvesting $120 million in San Francisco’s African American community over the next two years with the creation of the new citywide “Dream Keeper Initiative.”
This funding follows an extensive community and stakeholder engagement process and is part of Mayor Breed’s roadmap for reforming public safety and addressing structural inequities in San Francisco.
The goal of the Dream Keeper Initiative is to improve outcomes for San Francisco’s Black and African American youth and their families and will provide family-based navigation supports to ensure that the needs of all family members are addressed cohesively and comprehensively.
With this coordinated approach, the Dream Keeper Initiative aims to break the cycle of poverty and involvement in the criminal justice system for the families in its city programs and ensure that new investments, including in youth development, economic opportunity, community-led change, arts and culture, workforce and homeownership are accessible to San Francisco’s families who are most in need.
“We know that to actually see true, lasting change, we need to focus on helping entire families – from early education for kids to job training and workforce support for their parents and service for communities that have been systematically harmed by past policies,” said Mayor London Breed.
“To make these decisions, we’ve listened to the African American community about what’s worked and what hasn’t, and we are committed to actually delivering on the promises that are made but all too often aren’t kept. It’s not enough to say that Black Lives Matter.
“We must listen to Black voices, commit the resources and create the programs that will actually right past wrongs and get people resources and services so they can build their futures here in San Francisco and know that their city has their back.
“I want to thank the Human Rights Commission and Director Sheryl Davis as well as all the community members who have put in the time to put together something that will help people take care of their families and their parents and live with dignity.”
In June 2020, following the killing of George Floyd, Mayor Breed and Supervisor Walton announced a plan to prioritize the redirection of resources from law enforcement to support the African American community. Following that plan, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission (HRC) led an extensive and collaborative process with the community to identify and prioritize funding needs and developed a report to guide the reinvestment.
In San Francisco, the average income for a Black household is $31,000, as compared with $110,000 for white families. As many as 19 percent of African American children in San Francisco live in poverty.
The community engagement process included more than 60 community meetings, listening sessions, coalition convenings and surveys with over 700 respondents. As part of the budget process, Mayor Breed redirected $120 million from law enforcement for investments in the African American community for fiscal years 2020-21 and 2021-22.
“This initial investment to improve outcomes for the Black community and overturn years of disinvestment and inequitable resource distribution is just the first step in righting the wrongs of history,” said President of the Board of Supervisors Shamann Walton.
“We now have to continue to prioritize communities that have never had a chance to build true wealth and this is a first step towards true reparations for the Black community here in San Francisco. We are proud of this work and looking forward to doing more.”
“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to design and lead the community engagement process. On the heels of a divisive period in history, we were able to convene people with diverse thoughts, experiences and voices to develop strategies for change,” said San Francisco Human Rights Commission Executive Director Sheryl Davis.
“Participants in the meetings expressed gratitude to Mayor Breed and President Walton for creating a space that encouraged conversation and creating a plan for resources to improve outcomes, mend broken hearts, heal wounded spirits and begin to fix the systems that caused the damage.”
Decades of disinvestment in the African American community and racially disparate policies in San Francisco have exacerbated disproportionate harm in Black communities, affecting outcomes from health and wellness to housing insecurity and economic outcomes.
The Dream Keeper Initiative, inspired by Langston Hughes’s line, “What happens to a dream deferred?” seeks to address and remedy those racially disparate policies and make meaningful investments in San Francisco’s Black and African American community.
In San Francisco, the average income for a Black household is $31,000, as compared with $110,000 for white families. As many as 19 percent of African American children in San Francisco live in poverty. Black and African American individuals comprise 35 percent of the city’s unhoused population despite making up only 5 percent of the population as a whole.
This inequality perpetuates the systemic social determinants of health. Black communities in San Francisco have higher rates of diabetes, higher rates of maternal mortality and are more likely to be hospitalized for heart disease than other races.
The Dream Keeper Initiative, inspired by Langston Hughes’s line, “What happens to a dream deferred?” seeks to address and remedy those racially disparate policies and make meaningful investments in San Francisco’s Black and African American community. With $60 million in funding for fiscal year 2020-21, the city will begin to implement programs and allocate funds through existing programs and new requests for proposals.
Dream Keeper Initiative: Investment in San Francisco’s Black and African American community
The initiative recognizes the diversity of San Francisco’s Black community and includes investments in a wide range of programs that will support youth, families, seniors and members of the Black LGBTQ+ community. The Dream Keeper Initiative aims to refocus the city’s approach to youth by focusing on the entire family and providing the support to navigate and connect to existing community and public programs.
The $60 million in the Dream Keeper Initiative for fiscal year 2020-21 will support the following programs, and the numbers below are approximate. Investments will inform the allocations for the second year of reinvestment funding, as well any ongoing funding in future years.
- Youth Development and Education: $3.6 million for youth development and early education programs to support families and address the academic, social and emotional learning needs of youth with a cultural and racial equity lens. Programs funded by this investment will be in the areas of family engagement, academic support and literacy and early education.
- Arts and Culture: $2.1 million to provide art and culture opportunities for low-income and Black communities will help Black-led and Black-serving arts organizations build organizational capacity to successfully compete for grant funding and will direct funding toward Black theater companies, artist mini grants and artist collaboratives.
- Accountability and Systems Change: $6.6 million to ensure accountability mechanisms and enable Black-led organizations to support and track its various outcomes and impacts. This funding will help African American and Black-led nonprofit organizations with technical assistance and capacity-building so they are better positioned to work with the city in developing and implementing programs that are part of the Dream Keeper Initiative and other city programs. Funding will also go toward a new program that will connect approximately 400 Black and African American children and their families with a Family Advocate who will provide case management, connection to services and long-term investments, with the mission to make a lasting impact in each family’s life.
- City Employment Pipelines: $4.8 million to increase diversity in city employment and creating employment pipelines and human resources infrastructure that will support increased representation of Black people in city classifications and roles in which they are currently underrepresented.
- Workforce Training and Development: $6 million to workforce training and development programs for youth and adults; will support initiatives being led by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. This includes stipends for people in training programs, providing financial incentives for students pursuing higher education and funding arts workforce opportunities.
- Guaranteed Income: $7 million to create a guaranteed income program, which will complement other programs in the Initiative.
- Culturally Affirming Spaces: $2 million to promote culturally affirming spaces, such as investments in commercial corridors in historically African American neighborhoods, incubation hubs for small businesses and community groups and funding for African American cultural events.
- Business and Entrepreneur Support: $3 million to provide support for Black-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs, including trans-owned businesses, ranging from business development and technical assistance and anti-displacement services to support for new business storefronts and business start-up grants.
- Health and Wellbeing: $14.9 million to promote community health and wellbeing, including through restorative justice programs, food security and culturally-competent mental health services.
- Housing and Homeownership: $10 million to provide housing support and stabilization and promote homeownership for San Francisco’s Black and African American community.
The above programs and initiatives involve multiple city departments, including the Human Rights Commission, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Department of Children, Youth and Their Families, Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, Department of Public Health, Department of Human Resources, Office of Early Care and Education, Arts Commission, Department of Child Support Services, HOPE SF and the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector.