Co-founder in residence, PolicyLink
Learn more about Rey >>
President and CEO, StriveTogether
Learn more about Jennifer >>
Senior manager of policy and partnerships, StriveTogether
Learn more about Christian >>
Christian Motley, senior manager of policy and partnerships, StriveTogether
[00:19] Hi, I’m Christian Motley from StriveTogether, your host of Together for Change. Here we share expert perspective on what’s possible in communities that commit to equitable recovery. Today we are talking about how national organizations are responding to COVID-19 and alarming incidents of racial injustice. Joining me are Rey Saldaña, president and CEO of Communities In Schools, and Jennifer Blatz, president and CEO at StriveTogether.
Communities In Schools is a national organization that ensures all students are empowered to stay in school and are on a path to a brighter future. One such student was Rey Saldaña. He is the first in his family to graduate from college and now leads Communities In Schools. Rey, how are you?
Rey Saldaña, president and CEO, Communities In Schools
[01:00] I’m doing very well. Good morning. Thanks for having me, Christian.
[01:03] No, glad to have you. StriveTogether is a national network spanning 70 communities across the United States that works to ensure the success of every child from cradle to career. Jennifer has spent the last two decades designing and implementing strategies that drive large scale community improvement through the Cradle to Career Network. Jennifer, thanks for being here.
Jennifer Blatz, president and CEO, StriveTogether
[01:23] Hey, Christian. Thanks for having me.
[01:26] Well, let’s get started. First question, how have you and your organizations responded to these twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism? What are you learning along the way? Rey, let’s start with you.
[01:40] Yeah, Christian, well, thank you again, for having me on. This is such a such a critical time that it just involves so many forces and voices. And thinking about what’s at hand, this sort of movement and this moment, I will start by saying I joined Communities In Schools at the beginning of March, which puts me squarely at the beginning of the pandemic that has reached every corner of the world now at this point. And so, for us as Communities In Schools, we’re an organization has been around for 42 years at the center working with students in schools. And the fact that we now are working under circumstances where that access point, the safest place for schools, has been shut down, it really has put us into this place where we are trying to find ways to reconnect with students who are, in many cases, the most vulnerable in the communities that we are working in. I’m here in San Antonio, but the work stretches all across the country. So that means that in Los Angeles when I’m speaking to our executive director, over in Atlanta, or in Chicago, or in Charlotte, North Carolina, we are trying to make sense of the new situation on the ground, which is really the way we connect with students.
[03:00] While that used to be a classroom in the school where we had developed relationships with students throughout the school year, that’s now, in some cases, it sounds like a phone call. It looks like a virtual screen call on a computer or a front porch conversation. We’re delivering basic needs to students. And that’s how we responded initially. This was a response that looked almost like a paramedic arriving on the scene where you have to do immediate triage. And in many cases with the families we work with, they were, you know, they didn’t have the opportunity to stock up the pantry or prepare the materials or the disinfectants or the hand sanitizer, so it really put us in a position where we were working with students in a new context.
It’s brought us together in a new way. And that really just kind of addresses the pandemic piece now with 3,500 site coordinators, and that’s what we call the professionals working with students. Now with 3,500 site coordinators, building relationships in new ways, the second real trial here was the death of George Floyd and the resurgence of feelings and anxiety for what we can do now. And I just got to say, our young people that we serve with are on fire, this is all they can talk about. And so, we are in the throes of understanding how we how we take advantage of a system where we’ve got students all across the country who don’t just want to navigate the system, and our site coordinators don’t just want to move them through the maze of life, they want to start talking about tackling those barriers. So, it really is a pivotal moment for our organization.
[04:45] And Rey, it was powerful to see early on the way that many schools, you talked about that critical access point that schools end up being, and the work that we saw schools doing to meet those immediate needs, I think was really powerful. Jennifer, at StriveTogether, many of your communities are working as intermediaries and I just wonder what that work has looked like again, in the in the midst of this this twin pandemic.
[05:15] I think StriveTogether and Communities In Schools are such great partners in this work. We take a slightly different approach, but certainly moving towards the same result. In our work, it is, as you said, Christian, supporting a set of intermediaries. In fact, 70 across the country, these cross-sector, community-based partnerships working to improve systems to produce more equitable outcomes for every child, cradle to career. And so similarly, were going down a path with a very ambitious strategic plan to work very deeply in some communities to transform systems and really show we could spread that across our network and show what that looks like for the field. And when COVID hit, we realized that for more than a decade, we’ve worked to build this cradle-to-career civic infrastructure in communities across the country, and that we were going to need to pivot our strategy to support and stabilize and preserve as much of that infrastructure in communities as possible.
I think we quickly realized that it changes the way we do work because we do work and we support these intermediary organizations and communities that do work in and with community. As Rey mentioned, we were going to have to make a shift to doing that work virtually. But the work has never been more important.
[06:43] And so for us, it was about how do we preserve that infrastructure and communities and support these cradle-to-career partnerships to do the work that they were designed to do, which is to transform systems so that they produce more equitable outcomes. And so, what that looked like is building on core strengths as a network and is really looking at how do we get as much data and stories about what’s happening on the ground as quickly as possible. And so, we started talking with our partnerships. And we learned very quickly that COVID-19 had only exacerbated the inequities that we knew existed in communities but we were hearing stories and examples around the digital divide and the learning loss that would be associated with that digital divide. Child care challenges, health care, food security, housing, challenges faced by undocumented families who were hesitant to reach out and get to support services. So with that data, we began to pivot on the types of supports that we provide to our communities and to the network of communities. So we’re really doubling down on how to provide virtual supports, and how to connect with community and lift up community voices when you can’t be in the community. So, using a lot of Zoom, and just really thinking about how we can best help our partnerships understand their unique value proposition during this time.
And as things began to unfold, after the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and so many others, we really had to think about how are we supporting partnerships who are doing this type of work.
[08:27] It’s complex work in the best of times. And now we’re essentially facing dual pandemics with this health care crisis and social unrest. It certainly has an impact on the children and families that our work is designed to support and lift up. And that’s children and families of color and especially black youth and black families.
And so, with that we had been doing a lot of work for the past two years to really be more explicit about our commitment to racial equity. And right before the pandemic, we released a year’s worth of work towards a racial and ethnic equity statement for StriveTogether and for our network. And we built this statement with the Network, but it’s words on paper. And so what we’ve been doing since that point, and it’s certainly been accelerated given what’s happening in the country, is figuring out how to put into action the work to truly build anti-racist policies, systems and structures and do that by centering the voices of people of color in the work. It’s certainly not easy to do a behind a screen, but I think our network has adapted well, and we’re making some great progress as we move this work forward.
[09:43] Okay, thank you, Jennifer. And both of you describe just the importance of doing this work and your work in a way that meets the moment. Of course, in some cases, building on what you do well, and the unique value proposition that both organizations have in communities, but also adapting and ensuring that you know, at base level, we stabilize communities and again, meet this moment.
Policymakers have a task ahead of them as they work to meet this moment and craft recovery plans. And I wonder what your perspectives might be on how they embed, again, how they embed equity into recovery. You know, why is it important they embed equity into their recovery plans? And how might they do that?
[10:36] Yeah, Christian, I think if I can, I actually would start with conversations that I’m having with folks who are superintendents of school districts, principals, state (education) chiefs, who understand the difference between this moment of opening up school again and last year. And there is this, really, this sense that everything has changed. And I think what you do when you’re looking at a circumstance where everything has changed is that you try new things to approach the severity of need that you’re going to see coming back into your classrooms. And so, the conversations I had with state chiefs in Nevada or in Texas are looking like really two themes emerging around what will it look like to be prepared for what we’ve all described, which are these inequities that have surfaced in some of the communities that we serve, if we truly care about the kind of learning or the academic or life success is going to happen with the students that we serve in some of the schools that we are in.
And that the two themes are one, of course is the hardware, the digital access within the home, but the one that we are particularly interested in at Communities In Schools, especially because the schools that we serve in are in lower-income communities. 80% of the students we serve are black or brown. And the biggest issue surfacing is social-emotional trauma of relief. And the sense that what you do when you are building a recovery plan, or thinking about reopening schools or reengaging with students, is not just come up with a plan on how you’re going to socially distance your desks or take temperatures at the door for schools that are opening. It’s what are we truly doing to uncover all of those issues below the surface of our students that they’ve been grappling with.
[12:29] I don’t think for many people who are in this work, supporting families and communities in this time of highest need, it’s not a surprise that in many cases, the stress put on our families who have been laid off, our families who are living in tighter quarters in apartments, the kinds of fear that students have in unsafe homes, that all of those things need to be addressed before we can truly get to the learning that needs to happen, to the academics that needs to happen. So social-emotional supports, mental health supports, how we are training our own site coordinators who are working with these students already on how to grapple with the real heartache and deep impact of what it means to not only have struggled with poverty, but now with this new kind of poverty that has us disconnected in new ways.
And so we are working really, you know, with as much strength as we can with school districts to ensure that as they are preparing their reopening plans, that they are thinking about their students in new ways, especially as you think about broadening our scope. I think everybody has to broaden their scopes. Our school administrators, Communities In Schools, as our site coordinators are looking at the kinds of systems, and when we say systems, we defined it as things like the juvenile justice system, school discipline policies, the way that our communities are policed, the affordability issues in communities that we serve, for housing, and for access to health care. So those are all huge issues that our families are telling us these just gripping stories about how out of touch they are with the things that they need right now. That schools and organizations, nonprofits, governments need to recognize that everything has changed. So, we need to change the way we do everything.
[14:21] So I’m going to start with, Christian, just responding to something Rey started with, which is related to the reopening of schools. This is certainly top of mind for so many of our network members. And you asked, what should policymakers consider. I think what is top of mind for everyone in this is, so much of what we’re hearing right now in the conversation is, is how do we get back to normal? How do we get back to what normal looks like and kids in the classroom five days a week.
I mean we have to admit that normal wasn’t working for many of our, what we called normal pre-COVID wasn’t working for so many of our children, especially children of color in in so many of our schools. So, there’s a real opportunity here. If policymakers are willing, and they should be, and this is across the board, I’ll just use school as an example, but to really look at what it would take to work with youth, families and community members to design these types of policies and to really consider what it looks like to redesign schooling.
[15:24] And so asking ourselves, what will it take for families and young people to kind of create that future that they want to see that’s supported by the institutions that are supposedly designed to support and serve them, like schools, like health care providers, housing providers, and other systems and sectors? And also, what does it look like to create those structures and processes that enables systems leaders to really work alongside community? And so that type of policymaking that centers the lived experience of young people and families, it takes time. And I think one of the fears that I have right now, and we’re seeing this, you know, policy is being created and crafted so quickly, we’ve seen this through some of the federal government’s initial economic stimulus packages where, all good intentions, but the resources and the supports and the design of that policy does not take into account those that the policy is meant to impact and support and serve.
And so, I think it’s critically important for us as we work with policymakers to use data and stories to name the systemic factors that are producing the racial inequities that have been exacerbated by this crisis, and really look at what it will take to shift resources, practices and power structures to create the type of equitable policy across the board, be it what it looks like to return to school, and what it looks like for schooling going forward, to what it looks like to craft better policy for more supportive housing, health care, food security, to support undocumented individuals in the country. I mean, this is a moment where if we rush and we don’t center around the lived experience of those impacted by these policies, we’re missing an incredible moment. And, you know, I’m hopeful that our policymakers and systems leaders will take the time to consider that and really act in a different way.
[17:23] And, Jennifer, I want to follow up on that piece, in particular, the role of folks who are directly impacted by these policies and the systems that we are talking about. What is the role that youth and families most affected by, again, these this twin pandemics, COVID-19 and racism, what is the role that they can play in the creation of these plans?
[17:47] We talk a lot in our work, with our partnerships that we support, about the co-development of solutions and creating structures. And I can share an example from Rochester, New York, our partnership there, ROC the Future. They created a Parent Engagement Collaborative Action Network. And it’s really designed to build a coalition of parent advocates who can identify priorities and co-design solutions together with the school district and local partners that support children. And these parents essentially served as consultants and they’re compensated for their engagement. So, this is not the type of, sometimes what we see is, as tokenized engagement. We have to shift sort of our mindset to what parent engagement looks like, what youth engagement looks like, to really sharing power and ceding power to young people or parents.
And so in the case of ROC the Future, this Rochester partnership work, in late April, they had more than 80 parents, providers and organizations, they work together in an online session, to really discuss what were the resources and supports that are needed to continue to adjust to the crisis that we’re in right now. And parent leaders are working together with systems leaders to review the data that’s come in from surveys, that gets to sort of some of the mental health challenges that children are experiencing and the data on the digital divide and the learning loss that is happening, and the inequities there, so that they can craft solutions together. So that’s what real authentic sharing authority with young people, with parents, looks like in communities. And it can be done. We have examples of it, and we have to do more of it.
[19:35] Absolutely. And Rey, you know, I think of, there’s an organization that I’ve worked with in the past, it’s called the Prichard Committee, and there’s a student voice team, and they use this quote: “No more decisions about us without us.” These young people who are having conversation about representation on site-based decision-making councils, for example, or on superintendent selection committee, and to be more engaged in the decisions that are being made about schools. It just speaks to this power of young people to be able to provide their voice. What would you say about the role of young folks in these conversations?
[20:18] Christian and Jennifer, I think you all have centered on really, you know, what I really like to get my groove into here, which is this question of power. And, you know, you outlined a really great quote, Christian, I think another quote. I actually, I’ve served at the local level, I spent eight years on a city council, working in the community that I was born and raised in. The community I was born and raised is also a community that, you know, oftentimes fits the description of forgotten or underinvested or ignored. But the quote that I think about is that, “The most common way that people give away their power is by thinking that they don’t have any.”
And it’s truly something that I saw when I was working at the local level is in the communities that we care about, to make the most dramatic shifts and impact on the communities of color or communities that are living in impoverished conditions, is that you have to make sure you get the equation right in the order of operations, which is that to transform those communities, it’s not necessarily from the outside, it’s from the inside out. So, you have to work with those community members. And in the case of the two pandemics in front of us and how it is that we want to shift the dial of the future, it is going to be young people who are going to take us to a place that we’ve never been.
And I say that because I, as a leader of this organization, we have connections with our alumni. And we have these great alumni who I was on the phone with two weeks ago, who were just on fire about the last four months and everything that has happened and you know, they were calling me to the mat, saying we need to be standing up and using our voice in a way that is, you know, not tentative, that has got our foot on the gas around the way that our communities are policed because it is impacting my ability, or my friend’s ability, at home, to graduate.
[22:09] And so, if we are centering and, again, I have seen, systems change fail when we have not energized community members, when we have not energized them around their issues. Whether it’s around public transportation or housing or education or juvenile justice systems, if they’re not at the center signing up to speak as those citizens to be heard for our school board meetings or our county commission meetings or speaking to our legislators, this change will just not go as far as we want it to go.
So, I’m really excited that Communities In Schools, again, serving I guess 80% of our students are black and brown, all of them on fire, talking and wanting to put a foot into history in this issue, really engaging them. And I think at a time like this as I consider the work of StriveTogether and all of the partnerships that they have across the country, this is a time for partnerships.
Whether it is with the folks are already have already invented this wheel because we don’t have to sift through far too far in newspaper headlines to know that these problems around affordable housing, inequality, the axis of opportunity dwindling for community members, those were already headlines before either of these two pandemics. And there were folks, partners, who were working across the country, in the communities we care about, whether that is places like PolicyLink or Color Of Change, or the Vera Institute, who’ve been doing work that I connected with when I was at the local level, they’re still there doing this work, now more important than ever. And so, larger organizations, national nonprofits, like Communities In Schools and StriveTogether, really need to not recreate but reconnect with those partnerships and those community members who are putting their voice up and we need to create the platform for that change.
[23:58] Christian, can I jump in there and respond? I mean, Rey, I could not agree more with you. And there are a couple of things that you shared that I wanted to build on. First, in terms of youth engagement, there is an incredible example from our network, which is from your hometown in San Antonio. The UP Partnership has created a network called the Our Tomorrow network of young people who are really engaged together with local policymakers to shift and shape policy. And what our colleagues at the UP Partnership have shared is they are, as you described Rey, are more mobilized and vocal than ever in this moment. And it’s really exciting to see young people hopeful and engaged and using their voice to help shape policy through the equitable recovery work and the resilient systems-building work that needs to happen as we get through the pandemic.
A great example, coming from a partnership in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, is they created an equitable recovery pledge, really asking local partners to sign on to a pledge around some core principles of what it will take to center lived experience in recovery and to really name and use data and stories to name the inequities and produce better systems coming out of the recovery. And we thought that this equitable recovery pledge, this local pledge, which was shared broadly across our network, but one idea that we had is to try and create a similar pledge along with other national partners, like Communities In Schools, because now more than ever, it is so important for us to get aligned around policy priorities and aligned around that common agenda at the national level so that we can best support our local communities through this recovery.
[25:59] So number one, you know, as somebody, I’ve had the opportunity to work with San Antonio and UP Partnership and learn more about their work with young people there. It’s been interesting just to see how both the, there’s work that they had done related to fiscal mapping, but also this work around particularly centering young people, the voices of young folks in the work, and how one has been a tool to be able to support the work of the other. And I remember hearing, Jennifer, maybe one of our past convenings, sometimes we hear this talk about empowering others. But recognizing that folks have the power, we just have to pass the mic. And how that is just playing out and in San Antonio in a way that that’s just really, really beautiful. So, I have this question. And, Jennifer, it’s really based on kind of what you were getting to, you know, when we talk about equitable recovery, and making sure that we meet this moment in a way that doesn’t leave anyone behind. It begs the question, what are the “must haves” for an equitable recovery strategy?
[27:10] I mean, I feel like I may be a bit of a broken record here, but it is centering the voices of people of color in this recovery and creating solutions together with a particular attention to Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities that continue to be most harmed by our systems as evident in the data that we knew existed, and that is exacerbated through the data we see on a daily basis when we even look at COVID deaths, unemployment data. All of these data points are showing us just how oppressive our systems are to specific populations. So it is a must have that we look at the data and stories and center lived experience in the creation of policy because the systems and the policies that we have are performing well, but not for these populations of individuals. And so that is number one.
I think, you know, number two, the second piece I would say is, in terms of a must have, is that we have to mobilize cross-sector partners in a community to really, I mean, this is core to our work at StriveTogether, but I should say that mobilizing those cross-sector partners to really align around what it looks like to share and shift resources, create policies together and drive practices. We have a number of evidence-based practices that we can scale to impact populations and create more equitable outcomes. I think what we’ve learned from working with communities and why this doesn’t happen as much, and I have concerns about this, right now, is scarcity of resources and competition locally. We are going to see more of that. And so how do we name that? Name that we have to be able to be aligned in this moment to really achieve the types of equitable policy and the equitable recovery that I know that we all desire.
[29:09] Rey, same question. What would you say are must haves for an equitable recovery?
[29:16] So this is a really great question, Christian. And again, I’m really grateful to have Jennifer on this call because she’s got a national perspective. And I think the perspective we need to have, outside of this larger scope of thinking about the entire country, cross-sector, with philanthropy, with government, with nonprofits, is the must have is going to be courage. And I say that because we have been here in our history before and I say that as an organization that was born out of the late ’60s and riots that came from the civil rights movement, developing what was then called the Kerner Commission to say, why is it that there is so much turmoil in our communities that is leading to riots and protests and demonstration. We’re in a version of that. And I think we all need to recognize that we live in interesting times, but these times are probably some of the most creative. But it does require a great amount of courage.
We’ve got a pandemic, a global medical pandemic, a virus pandemic, outside of the civil unrest. And so the courage it’s going to take to actually start having uncomfortable conversations about the inequality that our students have been facing and what that would mean to the way that we are, you know, paying wages, or that we are confronting the poverty in our communities. Because it was from what one community member told me several years ago, which rings in my head, as I think about the courage we need to have here in this moment, is that it is so expensive to be poor. That it is the car that breaks down before it needs to, it’s the cost of groceries because you don’t have access to a grocery store. So, we need to take all of those things and recognize that we can’t just be putting on the Band-Aid in this moment because it’s less expensive, and it’s going to take courage to start throwing over the table to recreate new systems here. And the one piece that I’m grateful about with this call is that we’re talking about something that I think is outside of courage, another must-have, which is this agreement around how we share data for how we’re approaching vulnerable families and vulnerable young people.
[31:32] And I have just been floored by the communities I’ve been able to work with, more school districts and court systems and law enforcement and health systems are all sharing information to expose the red flags on where we need to target our resources for students. And I think that’s the must have for the equitable recovery. But all of that really is going to take a lot of courage for organizations from the bottom up. And so, I’m grateful that, as you’ve said, people have power and if we truly want to empower them it’s not going to be so much as putting power in their hands as much as it is passing the mic to them. And I think that that’s this flavor of this next generation of young people that we need to tap into. And I’m looking forward to doing that with the 1.6 million that we serve. I’m sure they’re going to really rattle the cages in important ways.
[32:28] Thank you, Rey. I’ve got a question. I’ve got to ask before I let you both go, you know, something that that Jennifer said, really hits on something that I’ve been thinking about. And it’s when we talk about the scarcity of resources. And we know, you know, local governments, as a result of the public health crisis, and, you know, folks who experienced some varying degree of quarantine over the last couple of months, local governments experiencing revenue gaps, state governments are facing revenue gaps. I think in terms of policy work that, you know, many leaders are taking up on the ground have gotten big wins in terms of shifting funding behind evidence and making deeper investments to support the work to improve outcomes and close, particularly, those racial disparities.
And knowing that, you know, the difference between, you know, having a policy conversation in January and February and having one in March in April, when budgets were being cut, and knowing that in future sessions and for future fiscal years for city governments, they may pull back on some of these wins and be reticent in the actions that they’ll take. So it begs the question, you know, how would you advise, again, whether policymakers who are working to pull the levers that are kind of at their disposal, community folks who are thinking about how to have conversations with these leaders and how to mobilize themselves, and again, as Jennifer mentioned, folks who are already working across sector, what is the conversation that these folks should be having, a call to action really, that they should consider moving forward? Again, that’s the of scarcity of resources, is something that, you know, we’ll all be thinking about.
[34:30] This is this is the million-dollar question, Christian. No, it is a million, billions-of-dollar question. I can take a stab to start, and then, Rey, would love to hear your take on this. I mean, it is a reality we’re facing. First, I know there’s been a call in our field for philanthropy to step up in a bigger, different way. And we’re seeing that happen with unprecedented, you know, Ford Foundation as a leader and others as well are taking on debt so that they can put more resources out into this work knowing that this is a moment in time that is really going to require philanthropy to step up.
But to your point, I mean, philanthropy has resources in these systems is but a drop in the bucket. But I do think, so I want to use this opportunity to as a call to action for philanthropy, is we really need philanthropy to work on the upstream systems-level challenges in a different way.
I mean, so many resources have been put into these more sort of downstream safety net, and that needs to happen in this moment, in this recovery piece, but there also needs to be resources that look at exactly what we’ve been talking about during this conversation, which is, what are the systemic factors that are producing all of these challenges that we’re seeing right now, and what’s it going to take to really address those and transform systems.
[36:04] So there’s that piece and then the piece on, you know, really in a time of scarcity of resources, so top of mind to us, in the work that we do, is how do we — it’s actually builds on what, Rey, you just shared about having courage, having courage to look hard at how we’re using resources and how we might be able to collaborate across systems, across sectors in sort of how those sectors and systems are designed and working in many ways in silos with additional and perhaps unnecessary infrastructure to produce the outcomes we want to see them produce.
So, it’s going to take courage. It’s going to take really looking at data, hard data of where are the bright spots and what’s getting the outcomes and making decisions. It’s going to require philanthropy to double down on their investment in the work and not only address the sort of more downstream safety net pieces, which are so critical, but also look at the systems and see their role in transforming systems. Because recovery from this is hard to anticipate, what this is going to look like. But it’s going to require the most innovative, courageous thinking that we’ve ever had in this field. And I’m confident with the people that I get to work with every day that we can figure this out if we really work together and are honest and courageous in the work that we’re doing.
[37:29] Yeah. Jennifer, thank you for taking that question first. That is a tough question to answer. But it again, it does require us to think outside of what our normal gut reaction is to do when we think about a scarcity of resources. So, I will take the point that mayors and governors and heads of large departments will need to balance their budgets
But what I think has been a newness to the last several months, is the sense that if this is truly unprecedented, if this is truly a new ground for everyone, that we are to try new things, and so the conversation that has come again, from the ground up from my perspective, is the sense that we actually can start thinking about the line items. We know that budgets are moral documents, that they tell you what we value most. And so, whether it is at the national level, and it means the kind of money we spend on this military industrial complex that we have, before folks weren’t talking about, you know, even touching that budget, there was only one direction that that budget would go, and it’s the same direction that any mayor would tell you about the budget for their police departments.
[38:47] And all of a sudden now, I think folks are realizing that in this moment, because resources are scarce, because sales tax are down, because revenue from property may be going in a direction that makes us have to tighten our belt, that everything is on the table with respect to how it is that we balance the future here because if you’re thinking about this exclusively as a budgeting problem, what you are doing then is saying okay, well, what is the cost of a jail cell versus a Communities In School site coordinator or social worker, and in comparing those two, one is cheaper than the other at the at the initial outset.
And so, to Jennifer’s point, we need philanthropy and foundations to work on that upstream. We will work on the safety net, we will capture what we can with nonprofits serving youth, serving vulnerable families. But the top stream about what it where it is that we are putting our resources and whether it is less expensive to pay for handcuffs than it is to pay for the interventions of young people, that takes courage. And that’s what I’m sort of thinking about that, that if we needed a nudge to be courageous, it is now the people on the ground who are telling us that this is where you go with times of austerity in our budgets. And it’s not just sacred cows that we’re protecting, because many cases, whether that is around military spending, or police spending in our communities, we’re trying to figure out new ways to stretch dollars that go into public resources to not only protect the safety net, but to truly try to, you know, transform lives for people who’ve been impacted by the opposite approach, which is to just think about how to, you know, solve problems in the easiest and fastest way.
[40:31] And still it seems that the answer to the billion-dollar question is about courage. We’ll let that be the last word. Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you, Rey, for joining us for this conversation. And thank you to our listeners. Stay connected with us by visiting StriveTogether.org, where you will find transcripts of our Together for Change podcast series. Bye, everybody.
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