Utilizing Measure US and other source revenue, Long Beach City Council passes recommendation to establish Long Beach Youth Fund

Mac Harris, a youth ambassador for the Long Beach Invest in Youth Coalition, shares a spoken-word poem in the middle of the intersection of Pine Avenue and Ocean Boulevard. (Emma DiMaggio | Signal Tribune)

Long Beach City Council passed a recommendation that will utilize Measure US income and other revenue to establish a Long Beach Youth Fund during Tuesday’s meeting.

The recommendation comes after last week’s passage of the Youth and Young Adults Strategic Plan. The plan has been in development since 2019. It was given a budget of $200,000 to construct a framework around it. 

“Since 2017, young people have been helping to lead an equitable budget process in our city, and have looked forward to the day they can say they were part of establishing the first ever youth fund in the region,” lead organizer of Khmer Girls In Action Jennefer Heng said during public comment. “We have an opportunity to support long-term COVID recovery and intergenerational healing and we hope you can show youth some love tonight by voting.”

Last week, youth leaders and their co-collaborators presented their year-long findings in a presentation to the council. Their main focus was in identifying key goals and challenges that the youth face in the Long Beach community. 

One goal was to erect a Youth Development Office in the Long Beach Health Department building to serve as a central information and resource hub for the city’s youth ages 8-24.

This week, councilmembers pushed for a proactive stance on the process of establishing a fund and cleared any bureaucratic confusion. The fund is set to be established by next year’s budget deliberations for Fiscal Year 2021.

“If we start now, it’s February, we have a lot of time to make sure we design this the right way where it makes sense,” Vice Mayor Rex Richardson said. “And we begin the next fiscal year with the youth fund in place with the rules and the parameters with equity in consideration.”

The youth fund will receive revenue from Measure US, a 30 cent per barrel oil tax that was voted and passed in November of last year, with the intent to fund programs for youth, climate, and community health. The measure is set to begin generating funds at no cost to Long Beach residents in October. 

Richardson clarified that although Measure US was passed, it did not ensure a fund. By passing this resolution, the development of a specific youth fund will not be lost in translation.

Councilmembers discussed the language of the recommendation and made sure to address transparency about the funding directly related to youth prosperity.

“We hear a lot from the community that they want to know how much we’re investing in our youth,” Councilmember Stacy Mungo said.“I think that a component of this that’s really going to be important, is being able to bring all of that together so we know where all those investments are being made, so that we’re able to see the return on that investment and the outcomes.”  

Councilmember Suely Saro added onto Mungo’s statement stating that she feels it is important to prioritize a youth fund in order to see how much it truly takes to support youth development.

“I am passionate about a youth fund,” Mungo said. “I am passionate about stopping issues in our community and empowering youth to find those solutions but I also want to do it in a way that doesn’t create a false sense of hope, or a false tool that’s not available.”

The next Long Beach City Council meeting will occur next Tuesday, March 2 at 5 p.m. via teleconference. 

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