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As I complete my first full year as executive director of Children’s Defense Fund – California, I am grateful to be a part of an organization that cares so deeply about children

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Looking Back, Looking forward



[[?x xxnullx::x[[S1:first_name]]x::Dear Child Advocate,::Dear [[S1:first_name]],]]

As I complete my first full year as executive director of Children’s Defense Fund – California, I am grateful to be a part of an organization that cares so deeply about children. CDF-CA works to ensure every child has what they need to make a healthy, successful passage into adulthood. We know in order to make this happen we need to address the attitudes, institutions, and policies that negatively impact the lives of our youth.

In 2015, CDF-CA has made great strides in furthering our goals and mission, thanks to our dedicated staff and supporters. We have published policy briefs and reports that bring to light key voices and ideas for change in the areas of juvenile justice, poverty and trauma; helped schools connect enroll children in health coverage; engaged youth to advocate for themselves and their communities; and celebrated 20 years of CDF Freedom Schools® and 25 years of our Beat the Odds® scholarship program.

CDF-CA was also critically involved in key victories in the state budget and legislation to improve the welfare of children. After years of committed advocacy, we expanded health coverage to all California children regardless of immigration status. We pushed for greater transparency and meaningful community engagement in the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) to support success for low-income students, English Learner and Foster Youth. We fought to protect and rehabilitate youth in the juvenile justice system. We demanded policy action to reduce child poverty, resulting in the creation of California’s first-ever state Earned Income Tax Credit.

With your continued support in 2016, we will elevate our work to promote and advocate for more humane juvenile justice laws and practices, better educational and health outcomes for our most vulnerable youth, and efforts to end child poverty. Because we at CDF-CA truly believe that our future lies in the hands of our children today and it would be foolish not to support them.

Please donate today to support our work to change the odds for California’s children in 2016. Consumer Reports recently highlighted Children’s Defense Fund as one of the best charities to ensure your dollars will make the most difference!

Alex M. Johnson
Executive Director
Children's Defense Fund - California

2015 Milestones

Rising Up, Speaking Out
January 15, 2015
Launched our policy brief, Rising Up, Speaking Out: Youth Transforming Los Angeles County’s Juvenile Justice System, at an event headlined by young people who have experienced the system. Read more »
Ending Child Poverty
January 28, 2015
Released groundbreaking report, Ending Child Poverty Now, and California companion brief detailing policy recommendations to reduce child poverty in California and the U.S. Read more »
A Healthy Start to the New Year
April 23, 2015
Hosted superintendents and school administrators at a School-Based Health Enrollment Community of Practice Institute to identify strategies to connect uninsured students to health coverage. Read more »
Curbing Youth Solitary Confinement
June 2, 2015
Engaged youth and community members in support of SB 124 by Senator Leno to end youth solitary confinement, leading it to pass the Senate floor. Read more »
Bringing Education, Not Incarceration
June 2, 2015
Led student leaders in demanding Long Beach Unified School District spend their Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) resources to improve outcomes for low-income and high-needs students at public hearing. Read more »
Freedom Summer
June 8, 2015
Launched 33 CDF Freedom Schools® programs in cities across California to provide summer reading enrichment for children to curb summer learning loss and build the next generation of leaders. Read more »
Protecting Children in the Budget
June 24, 2015
Won key victories for children in the 2015-16 state budget, including an expansion of health coverage to all children regardless of immigration status, creation of a state Earned Income Tax Credit, and increased child care funding. Read more »
Helping Children Heal
September 18, 2015
Release new policy report on child trauma, Helping Children Heal: Promising Community Programs and Policy Recommendations, at a half-day event with policymakers and practitioners. Read more »
Key Legislative Victories
October 11, 2015
Celebrated the signing of state legislation prioritized by CDF-CA to improve outcomes for children. Read more »
Tomorrow's Leaders Today
October 28, 2015
Honored Long Beach youth leaders for their commitment to social justice and leadership at the Action Scholars Leadership Awards. Read more »
Building a Stronger Future for our Children
December 1, 2015
Hosted events with the Mayors of Oakland and San Francisco and CDF Founder Marian Wright Edelman calling for a recommitment to our children. Read more »
They Beat the Odds
December 3, 2015
Recognized 5 high school students for their outstanding achievements despite overwhelming obstacles at the 25th Annual Beat the Odds® awards ceremony. Read more »

Alex Johnson's Op-Eds

Early childhood education is California’s answer to Equal Opportunity
January 15, 2015
"It's the essential promise of America -- that where you start should not and will not determine how far you can go." That powerful message was shared by President Barack Obama last month at the White House Summit on Early Education. [...]
California Needs a State Budget That Protects Children From Poverty
June 15, 2015
One in four children in California live in poverty. When you disaggregate children of color, 35 percent of African-American children and 38 percent of Latino children in California live in poverty. [...]
Is Violence the New Normal? Why We Must End Solitary Confinement for Youth
July 17, 2015
This nation stands at a crossroads where the moral failure of our current system of justice is no longer possible to ignore. Kalief Browder. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Reynisha McBride. Ezell Ford. Walter Scott. Ricardo Diaz Zeferino. [...]
Building Positive Relationships to Break the School-To-Prison Pipeline,
October 8, 2015
What if we shifted our approach to school discipline to focus less on punishment and more on creating the positive relationships that all students need to thrive in school? [...]
Hiding in the Shadows: Don’t Forget About California’s Homeless Children
November 24, 2015
An older African-American man seated in a wheelchair, his left leg amputated, a crudely worded sign propped up next to him: "Homeless Vet -- Support Your Troops." A blond-haired white woman with her head bowed holding a piece of cardboard that states: "Hungry & Homeless." [...]


Rising Up, Speaking Out: Youth Transforming Los Angeles County’s Juvenile Justice System
January 2015:
View online »
Ending Child Poverty Now: California
January 2015
View online »
The Los Angeles County Juvenile Probation Outcomes Study
April 2015
View online »
Helping Children Heal: Promising Community Programs and Policy Recommendations
September 2015
View online »


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