Schools & Communities First Initiative Makes History With Most Signatures Ever Submitted

On April 2, the Schools & Communities First campaign proudly announced the submission of more than 1.7 million signatures of support to qualify for the November 2020 ballot — the most signatures ever submitted in California for a ballot initiative. This historic benchmark was achieved weeks ahead of schedule and surpassed the original 1.6 million goal set by the campaign.

The Schools & Communities First initiative would direct $12 billion every year to the most pressing needs in our communities, including critical local services and schools, while protecting homeowners, renters and small businesses.

In a sign of the Schools & Communities First coalition’s robust statewide infrastructure and support, a massive grassroots volunteer operation collected more than 410,000 signatures of the total — an unprecedented number. This statewide infrastructure will be key to victory in November. 

“Schools & Communities First is proud to make history by submitting more than 1.7 million signatures of support from Californians, illustrating the momentum and support for this initiative. Now more than ever, we need to support those heroes on the front lines who have been caring for the most vulnerable, educating our children, and keeping Californians safe — the Schools & Communities First initiative puts more resources back in the hands of local leaders who best know how to address local needs and priorities.” Alex Stack, Schools & Communities First Communications Director

The Schools & Communities First coalition is composed of everyday Californians who are motivated for the common good, and groups and organizations advocating on behalf of those on the front lines throughout the state who deliver critical services and hold our communities together. 

“For months leading up to the crisis we find ourselves in now, thousands of volunteers gathered signatures from voters eager to create a California where all people can belong, whatever their race or where they come from. This is reason to celebrate in the midst of a very challenging time for families in our communities. These 1.7 million signatures represent 1.7 million reasons to pass Schools & Communities First in November, in support of our teachers, public health workers, nurses, doctors, sanitation workers, and first responders who are saving lives and making our communities more resilient.” —Joseph Tomás McKellar of PICO California, a network of faith-based, multicultural community organizations representing 400 congregations and 450,000 families across California dedicated to developing clergy and grassroots community leaders to enrich congregational life through racial and economic justice

“Whether during a crisis or in normal times, schools and colleges are the heart of our communities. That’s why CFT members have made Schools & Communities First our top priority, and we are proud to have collected 20,000 signatures to help qualify this critical initiative. Today, we, alongside our labor and community partners, are submitting these signatures to quality Schools & Communities First for the November ballot.” —Jeff Freitas, a former high school math teacher and president of the California Federation of Teachers, a union of educators and classified employees committed to promoting high-quality education and securing the conditions necessary to provide the best services to California’s students

“San Diegans are thrilled to have done their part in providing the most signatures ever submitted in California for a ballot initiative. These signatures send a strong message that we need to prioritize resources to cities and counties so they can respond to health threats and other community needs quickly and compassionately. Let their signatures be a reminder that we still need to support our teachers and frontline responders who are called to rise to every crisis in support of our community’s well-being.” —Andrea Guerrero of Alliance San Diego, a community empowerment organization working to ensure that all people can achieve their full potential in an environment of harmony, safety, equality, and justice

“The overwhelming support for the Schools and Communities first initiative is reflected by the 1.7 million signatures, the most ever gathered in California, to put this important measure on the ballot. At this moment, we are witnessing the need for this very measure as educators, healthcare workers, first responders and communities as a whole grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on each one of our lives. The lack of resources has become ever-so-evident with so many students and families across California not having access to internet or computers. Schools & Communities First will help provide the resources our students, families and communities need for public education, healthcare, housing and public safety. Thank you to all who have joined with educators and our broad coalition to put this measure before California’s voters.” —E. Toby Boyd, kindergarten teacher and president of the California Teachers Association, the voice of 310,000 educators in California’s public schools and colleges

“This historic accomplishment doesn’t come easy, and it illustrates the fact that Californians overwhelmingly want to bring more resources back locally for our critical government services and schools. Those local leaders on the front lines know exactly what the most pressing needs are in their communities, and now more than ever we must ensure they have the tools at their disposal to continue doing their jobs.” —Anthony Thigpenn of California Calls, an alliance of 31 grassroots organizations throughout the state dedicated to engaging, educating, and motivating new and infrequent voters to make California’s electorate reflect the state’s diverse population

“Nurses, clinic workers, school workers, home care workers, and so many other dedicated workers are at the front lines of this crisis, caring for our seniors, our children, and the sick. Now more than ever we need strong and well prepared communities and infrastructure to meet moments like these. That’s why SEIU members gathered so many signatures and are more committed then ever to closing these corporate tax loopholes and building up our communities.” —Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU California and SEIU Local 721, a union fighting for progressive change for working people across the state

A recent report from the University of Southern California (USC) showed that every county in the state stands to benefit from the Schools & Communities First initiative, and polling has shown that the Schools & Communities First initiative is supported by 58% of likely California voters.