United for Change: Capitol Day 2024 - United Ways of California

United for Change: Capitol Day 2024

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Read time: 4 minutes

April 23 and 24 brought together dozens of representatives from the California United Way network to lift our collective voices for a better, more equitable California. 

Sharing and Collaborating

The event kicked off with a series of speakers and panels to demonstrate the impact of advocacy on California policies to date and to educate about California’s fiscal and legislative circumstances. Programming included:

  • A panel discussion on California’s budget with Carolyn Chu from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, Chris Woods from the Office of the Senate President Pro Tem, and Michele Perrault from the Department of Finance
  • A conversation with Dr. Richard Pan and Jennifer Fearing on how advocates can continue pushing for smart budget decisions that not only help us through a budget shortfall but also allow us to advance equitable solutions 
  • Advocacy workshops

To close out the day, Dr. Larissa Estes, Executive Director of the California Racial Equity Commission, and Dr. Manuel Pastor, Director of the Equity Research Institute at USC, discussed the work of the state Racial Equity Commission, the role of policy in advancing racial equity, and how we can individually and collectively advance racial equity in California. 

Dr. Estes’ role and this work are a critical result of sustained advocacy. United Ways of California and our network are proud to be a part of the advocacy movement that resulted in California’s declaration of racism as a public health crisis and the creation of the state’s Racial Equity Commission.

Honoring Advocacy Champions

While we still push for more progress in the state, our annual Capitol Day is also an important time to celebrate how much we have accomplished so far. At the Live United Luncheon on Tuesday, we recognized the efforts of policymakers, advocates, and local organizations to improve the lives of Californians across the state. Their meaningful efforts have resulted in policies that make California a better place for families, policies we can expand and build on to continue to support Californians. 

This year’s Live United honorees are:

  • Senator Steve Padilla, a tireless advocate who strives to better the lives of California’s working families—one way he does this is by highlighting the true cost of living in California in order to better inform policies for those who need them most
  • Assemblymember Gregg Hart, who championed AB 590, which was signed into law last year to improve and expand the practice of providing nonprofits with start-up funds for state contracts
  • United Ways of California Ambassador and community advocate Cody Van Felden, who has shared her story and raised her voice on countless issues to support Californians, testifying in support of increases to the CalEITC minimum, expansions to the Young Child Tax Credit, protections to funding dedicated for Free Tax Preparation Services, and more
  • 211 California Executive Director and CEO Alana Hitchcock, whose work and unwavering commitment to our shared priorities of supporting the 211 infrastructure across the state have been invaluable

Advocating for Families

On day two, attendees met with more than 60 legislative offices, urging elected officials to support key policy priorities that will put the needs of California families first, including:

  • Funding free tax preparation assistance along with tax education and outreach to help more Californians access free tax-filing services and life-changing tax credits (AB2191)
  • Keeping more Californians stably housed by building partnerships with landlords and supporting families who have Housing Choice Vouchers in securing housing (AB 653)
  • Strengthening the state’s 211 infrastructure to ensure resources go to the most vulnerable communities with the greatest need (AB 3020)
  • Developing a state living wage formula to determine what a full-time worker should earn to afford basic necessities by region and uplifting employers who pay their workers a living wage (SB 1049)

In addition to meeting with the offices of elected officials that day, attendees from local United Ways across the state had a chance to play an active role in the legislative process when they were able to give in-person remarks during a hearing for AB 3020! 

United Ways of California extends sincere thanks to our speakers and panelists, United Ways of California Public Policy Committee Co-Chairs Keisha Browder and Mari Perez-Dowling, and the countless legislative staff who took the time to meet with us. We are also grateful to the Capitol Day attendees, our local United Ways, our network’s Regional Advocacy Coordinators, and the hundreds of community members who took action from home by sending letters to legislators

Together, we presented a United front. United for financial wellness. United for stable housing. United for connections to resources. 

United for Californians. 

Previous Article Next Article

Stay Connected

Join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on our work

Subscription Form

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.