Billions in Change: A Ballot Initiative to Raise Revenue for Schools and Local Governments

Californians will head to the polls to decide on a ballot measure that could drive more money to education. Schools and Communities First is a statewide ballot initiative that seeks to channel over $12 billion a year to improve schools and community colleges, social services, libraries, and health clinics. If passed, it would re-assess commercial properties at market rate, while maintaining property tax stability for residences. Join us to learn more about this ballot initiative, hear from stakeholders, and understand its implications for your grantmaking.


Christopher Hoene, Executive Director, California Budget & Policy Center (moderator)

Chris Hoene became the Budget Center’s executive director in October 2012, bringing to the organization 15 years of leadership in state and local policy research and analysis. He leads the strategic direction of the organization, acts as primary spokesperson, and works with the board of directors and community partners to implement our vision and mission. Prior to joining the Budget Center, Chris was director of the Center for Research and Innovation at the National League of Cities in Washington, DC, leading efforts to analyze trends in local and state government and promote constructive policy action on issues including public finance, economic development, housing, poverty reduction, infrastructure, and governance. Chris also previously worked for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, DC, and the Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco. Chris holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Claremont Graduate University and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science of the College of Idaho. In 2011, in recognition of his service to the state and local community, Chris was elected as a Fellow into the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA).

Judith Bell, Chief Impact Officer, San Francisco Foundation

Chief Impact Officer, San Francisco Foundation Judith brings extensive experience in strategic planning and policy development, with a focus on economic and social equity to the Foundation. Previous to joining the Foundation, Judith was the President of PolicyLink where she had been since its inception, becoming President in 2004. Her leadership helped ignite a new national narrative around access and opportunity for all people with a focus on improving health and infrastructure, including increasing access to healthy foods.

Dr. Jennifer Martinez, Chief Strategy Officer, PICO California

Jennifer Martinez is the Chief Strategy Officer for PICO California, the largest faith-based community organizing network in California. PICO CA supports the development and action of grassroots leadership to advocate for racial and economic justice. Jennifer has been an organizer since 2001 where her work has focused on housing justice, immigrant rights, restorative justice and quality education. With Jennifer's leadership, PICO CA has been at the forefront of addressing the housing affordability and displacement crisis, recently co-sponsoring the state's ant-gouging rent cap (AB 1482). PICO CA is also co-leading the Schools & Communities First initiative on the November 2020 ballot to close the corporate loophole in Prop 13 and restore $12 billion a year to California schools and neighborhoods.

Jennifer has a BA from Stanford University and an MA and PhD from the University of Nottingham, England. Her graduate research focused on social movement strategies in the struggle for housing and land rights in Venezuela and South Africa, and in 2011, her PhD won the British International Studies Association thesis of the year award. Born into a Mexican-Irish family in Southern California, Jennifer now calls the San Francisco Bay Area home.

Jennifer Ito, Research Director, Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, University of Southern California

Jennifer Ito is the Research Director at USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) where she conducts research on issues of regional inclusion and social movement building. Jennifer has co-authored several PERE publications including Getting Real about Reform II: Estimating Revenue Gains from Changes to California’s System of Assessing Commercial Real Estate (2020). Before joining PERE, she was the Research Director for Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE). Appointed by the California Assembly Speaker, she served on the California Commission on the 21st Century Economy in 2009. In 2015, she served on the California State Controller’s Council of Economic Advisors. She currently serves on the boards of the Economic Roundtable, California Budget and Policy Center, and Asian Pacific Environmental Network Action. She holds a Masters in Urban Planning from UCLA.l Foundation’s Community Funding Board. She holds a Masters in Urban Planning from UCLA.

Target Audience

This program is open to NCG, SCG, and SDG members and non-member funders. 


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