Authors Posts by Cynthia Foster

Cynthia Foster

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“Child care is not just a poverty or investment issue – it is about fundamental human rights.” – Clarissa Doutherd

The Women’s Foundation of California is proud to introduce you to the 2016–2017 class of Women’s Policy Institute–State (WPI) fellows. This visionary group of grassroots and community leaders is embarking on a year-long intensive training program that will enable them to effect change at the center of California’s policymaking: the Capitol in Sacramento.

clarissaClarissa Doutherd is a member of the WPI child care advocacy team, as well as executive director of Parent Voices Oakland. We asked Clarissa to share a bit about her story.

You are a member of the child care team. How did you come to be so committed to child care advocacy work?

My advocacy and organizing work for affordable child care came out of pure survival. I was going to lose my child care subsidy for my then-2 year old son, and maintaining my services was the difference between my family eating or not. As I began to learn more about how other families like mine were impacted, I became deeply committed to lifting up those experiences to create a movement around child care and early education that centers families. I’ve been fortunate in my work at Parent Voices to have the community truly lead my work, inform my decisions, and transform my perspective – this inspires me to get up and keep going every day.

What drew you to the WPI program? Why did you apply?

I’ve heard many colleagues talk about how much they’ve learned in WPI, and I was part of a project funded by the EDJe fund of the Women’s Foundation of California that looked at the experiences of mothers waitlisted for child care. We discussed having a child care team over the last couple of years to specifically work on legislation that would support families through what is a complex system to navigate. There’s been some momentum at the state and federal level to address child care and preschool access, so the timing felt right to participate.
On a personal level, having in-depth knowledge and access to the Capitol through WPI is a critical part of my journey as an advocate. I feel it’s time to deepen my understanding of policy, and engage elected officials and their staff from a different angle than what I’ve been exposed to.

If you could tell Governor Jerry Brown one thing about your issue area and the people most impacted by your work, what would it be?

All children and families across economic, legal, and social circumstances deserve the opportunity to work and build the foundation for a good education that child care provides. Child care is not just a poverty or investment issue – it is about fundamental human rights. We cannot build a sustainable economy without families that can work, and without children who are able to successfully enter and complete school from K-12. Our families depend on those we elect to look at our communities holistically, and not create piecemeal solutions to issues that should be thought about and developed from the grassroots up.

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This post was written by Foundation CEO Surina Khan.

For many of us this seems like a different nation than it was just a week ago. Confederate flags shocked viewers at a Veterans Day parade in Petaluma. In Redding, a student at Shasta High School handed out “deportation letters” to Latino classmates. A college student in San Diego was robbed as her attackers made derogatory comments about Muslims.

As a woman of color, first generation immigrant, lesbian and Muslim, it’s been deeply painful. But I have found comfort in my family, friends, colleagues and you, the Women’s Foundation of California community. We have been kind to each other, comforted each other and protested together.

In the last week, many of us have asked each other and ourselves, “What can I do?”

women-in-the-capitolAt the Foundation, we are determined to preserve the progress we have made. The organizations and leaders we support will have many challenges in this current reality and the philanthropic sector’s role will be increasingly important. We will be called upon to replace governmental services that will be cut, to safeguard the most vulnerable among us and to challenge violations of civil and human rights.

You can be assured that the Foundation will continue to train effective leaders through our Women’s Policy Institute at the state and county levels.

We will continue to make grants to community-based groups who are working for the health, safety and economic security of Californians.

California is powerful — and now Californians have a greater responsibility to show the world our commitment to dignity, respect, fairness, inclusivity, compassion and patience. No matter your political affiliation, your gender or your faith, if you share these values, stand alongside us. Raise your voice with us as we demand civility and justice.

Here are three things you can do today.

1. Contact California Senate President pro tem Kevin De Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to thank them for their commitment to protecting California’s values of inclusivity and fairness. We’ll need that commitment in the years ahead.
2. Contact your congressional representatives to voice your concerns. Ask them to denounce white supremacy and ensure that rights for women, LGBT people, immigrants and members of the Muslim and Jewish communities are not rolled back. Ask them to work for policies that advance economic security for all.
3. Invest in organizations and leaders who are advancing gender, racial and economic justice. If you need help identifying organizations, here is a list of our grant partners, or you can give through us and we will ensure that your donation supports community-based leadership.

We remain committed to a better future and we will lead with courage, compassion, and conviction. If you have other ideas about what the Foundation community can do, please share them with us. We are always listening at info@womensfoundca.org.

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