Kids First Initiative to fund youth programs in Richmond

Bay Area

Counting down to the June election.

There’s one initiative on the ballot to fund youth programs in an East Bay city that has virtually zero opposition. 

“We have been involved in other efforts, supporting other efforts but this is the first time that RYSE is anchoring a campaign of this magnitude and putting something for the voters to vote on,” said Jamileh Ebrahim of RYSE, a nonprofit youth support organization. 

Kids First Initiative E and Charter Amendment K are both on the June ballot in Richmond. 

Both are all about helping Richmond youth, according to Ebrahim. 

RYSE is behind the proposal.

“Some of the programs to be funded include outdoor education, education a career support, media, arts and technology, violence prevention and support for young people who want to be leaders in civic engagement,” said Ebrahim. 

The Kids First Initiative is experiencing overwhelming support. 

When KRON4 asked if everyone’s on board, Ebrahim said “everyone.”

“Everyone, including the entire city council and the mayor,” Ebrahim added.

But that wasn’t always the case, according to Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, due to the funding mechanism being tied to the city treasury that would take money away from city employees.

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Goia stepped in with a solution in Charter Amendment K. 

“It will dedicate up to three percent of the city’s general fund for youth services but that only happens only another tax measure happens passes in November, which we are working on a soda tax led by young people,” said Goia. 

He says the soda tax measure is modeled after successful soda tax measures in San Francisco and Oakland. 

This means the Kids First Initiative will be at the mercy of the ballot box twice. 

“So it is two parts, E and K in June, then a soda tax in November,” Goia said. 

The folks at RYSE believe it’s an achievable goal considering what’s on the line.

“It is in the hands of the voters, the voters will be able to decide if young people are going to have these additional resources and the support they need to become the people that they deserve to become and be able to thrive in this community or not, and I am sure and have trust in the voters, that they will say yes, yes on E and K” said Ebrahim. 

The Kids First Initiative has no organized opposition.

However, supporters anticipate a major push back from the beverage lobby in November. 

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