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2010 CDF-California Beat the Odds® Slideshow

2010 CDF-California Beat the Odds Award Ceremony Slideshow

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2010 CDF-California Beat the Odds® Videos

Wilson Khauv

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Action Needed – Call your Assemblymember to end Juvenile Life Without the Possibility of Parole

California youth need your help today!

Currently youth in California can and are sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This practice is in violation of international human rights law, and carried out by no other country in the world. Moreover, this practice of sentencing youth to die in prison ignores everything we have learned about youth maturation and brain development, including youth's unique capacity to change. The Fair Sentencing for Youth Act, Senate Bill 9 (SB 9), would make a small yet crucial change to this policy by allowing youth who have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole—over 300 youth in California—an opportunity for resentencing. Passing SB 9 in California would send an important message to the rest of the country that throwing away somebody's life for an act they committed during their youth is bad practice—morally wrong and financially irresponsible. To learn more on the bill, click here: http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org/legislation/senate-bill-9-california-fair-sentencing-for-youth/.

SB 9 will be voted on in the Assembly this week, as early as today! A similar bill was just two votes away from passing last year, so every vote is crucial. We ask you, supporters of children’s rights, to please make a call today to your California State Assemblymember, urging them to vote ‘YES’ on Senate Bill 9, a policy that is better for California’s children. Click here to learn how to take action: http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org/take-action/.

We thank you for your support in reforming juvenile justice and restoring children's rights!

All Children Need Health Coverage

Since 1998, Children's Defense Fund-California has worked with our colleagues in the 100% Campaign to ensure that all of California's children gain access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage. Our efforts to expand coverage for children, simplify enrollment processes, and support outreach efforts have paid off in a significant decline in the number of uninsured children in the state.

A recent Urban Institute report showed that close to 700,000 California children are currently eligible for affordable health programs, but not enrolled. With California home to 15% of the nation’s uninsured-but-eligible children, our state must step up to the plate and take immediate action to significantly reduce the number of uninsured children in California.

One opportunity to reverse this trend is the passage and implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act. The 100% Campaign is working with organizations and policymakers throughout the State and in the Obama Administration to make sure that California’s implementation of the law has the best outcome for children. Certain provisions of the Act, which can improve things for children and families, went into effect September 23, 2010. Visit the 100% Campaign website for additional details.

Meanwhile, many children are already eligible for no or low cost coverage through Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, and county coverage programs.

Families interested in learning more about Medi-Cal or Healthy Families should call 1-877-KIDS-NOW or 888-747-1222.

Children’s Defense Fund-California Statement on May Revision of Governor’s Budget and Assembly Republicans Budget Proposal

Children’s Defense Fund-California is encouraged that Governor Jerry Brown has continued to call for revenues instead of only cuts in his May revision of the budget and has taken a more balanced approach as compared to a recent proposal released by the Assembly Republican Caucus.

The Legislature already accepted $12 billion in spending cuts in March and California’s children cannot afford another round of cuts in basic services, education, child care, health, and child welfare. Californians should get behind the governor and legislators who have called for extensions of current taxes, and also press for closure of more tax loopholes.

Budget decisions must take into account the fact that even using the outdated federal poverty measure, which does not adjust for the high cost of living in California, almost one in five California children are poor. California is failing to provide a successful educational path for millions of children, the safety net and support for work provided by CalWORKS has been slashed and thousands of children do not have access to high quality child care. Long term budget imbalances cannot be solved by additional cuts to programs for our most vulnerable Californians.

Addressing the Challenges of Reentry in the Juvenile Justice System

With the largest juvenile justice system in the country, Los Angeles County officials are concerned about the programming juveniles receive while they are incarcerated, as well as the services to support successful reintegration into society after release. Marian Wright Edelman recently joined with Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in a press conference to discuss the current state of juvenile reentry and policies to meet the educational, mental health and substance abuse needs of the County's juveniles, and further dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline.

A report on juvenile reentry was prepared for Supervisor Ridley-Thomas' office earlier this year by Michelle Newell and Angelica Salazar, former masters candidates at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government who now both work at the Children's Defense Fund on juvenile justice policy. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has introduced this report as a motion to the Board of Supervisors in an effort to shed a light on the high recidivism rate and begin to improve the path that youth take when reentering their communities. The report's recommendations include things like strengthening the planning for a youth's transition back into the community, ensuring continuity in care to make sure youth do not experience educational or health disruptions, and improving the data collection and analysis capability of the Probation Department.

Click here to view Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and Mrs. Edelman's press release, Ridley-Thomas' motion to the Board of Supervisors, the executive summary of the report, or the whole report.

California Children Need Leadership from their Elected Officials

CDF California is a member of the Health and Human Service Network, a coalition that calls on California’s elected officials to take a stand against devastating cuts to vital health and human services and corporate tax breaks that cost California jobs. For budget updates, ongoing actions in communities throughout the state, and information about how you can help, please visit the Health and Human Service Network website.

CDF Freedom Schools® Program

The CDF Freedom Schools program provides summer and after-school enrichment through a model curriculum that focuses on reading, self-esteem and building a love for learning. In partnership with faith institutions, schools, colleges and universities, and community based organizations, the CDF Freedom Schools connect the needs of children and families to the resources in their communities. In California, CDF Freedom Schools have been expanding rapidly. In the summer of 2010, twelve CDF Freedom Schools sites operated in the following areas: Marin, San Francisco, Long Beach, Altadena, Pasadena, Carson, Culver City, Lynwood, Los Angeles and Oakland.

For more information on these sites, please visit the CDF Freedom Schools site listing. For more information about the CDF Freedom Schools Program and to learn how you may launch a CDF Freedom Schools site in California, please contact Saira Soto at ssoto@childrensdefense.org or (213) 355-8793.

Beat the Odds® Program

Beat the Odds logo

The CDF Beat the Odds program, started in 1990, recognizes outstanding high school students who have overcome incredible adversity to excel in school.

These young people, who have endured such hardships as homelessness and abuse, display incredible self-determination and a drive toward achievement through the common thread of hard work, academic excellence, and service to their communities.

The Beat the Odds program in California honors these students with college scholarships and academic and personal support. CDF Founder and President Marian Wright Edelman as well as Hollywood celebrities join together each year to honor these youth. Each honoree will also receive a $10,000 scholarship and support services including SAT Prep, college application support, and mentoring. Follow this link to see photos from last year's event.


On July 6, 2011, CDF-CA Program Director Saira Soto appeared on KPFK’s “Feminist Magazine” radio show to discuss CDF-CA Freedom Schools, the CDF National Day of Social Action, and our 100% Campaign efforts to insure all children with comprehensive coverage. Saira also shared her story as a former Beat the Odds recipient who has returned to CDF-CA as Program Director. To hear Saira’s interview, please click on the following link: http://archive.kpfk.org/parchive/index.php.

Contact Us

Oakland office:

2201 Broadway, Suite 705
Oakland, CA 94612
Main: (510) 663-3224
Fax: (510) 663-1783

Jamila Edwards
Northern California Director
(510) 663-3780

Deena Lahn
Policy Director
(510) 663-2984

Los Angeles office:

3333 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 550
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Main: (213) 355-8787
Fax: (213) 355-8795

Kim Brettschneider
California State Coordinator
(213) 355-8791

Michelle Newell
Policy Associate
(213) 355-8790

Danica C. Tisdale Fisher
Program/Administrative Associate
(213) 355-8788

Saira Soto
Program Director
(213) 355-8793

Joanna Flores
Program Associate
(213) 355-8787