When United Parents & Students held their ninth annual assembly, its members unanimously approved the five point Community Invested Platform presented by the community based organization.
Over 250 parents and students came to the assembly, held at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College, the first one held with the public since 2020 and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though there has been an increase in cases during the final quarter of the year, executive director Larry Fondation was excited for the number of people that showed up.
“I think there are numerous folks who wanted to come, they said they would come but there’s a lot of anxiety, we are seeing rising cases right now,” said Fondation. “Given that, we had 250 people, many of them masked up, we had a great platform of five basic issues we want to highlight going into the fiscal year in the budget that was adopted by the city council in July 2023. Good showing for our first time since the pandemic that we had to get together in person.”
The platform centered on the need for the city and the county to work towards a $500 million investment in Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI), which would help reduce poverty in many of the communities served by Green Dot Public Schools in California. Dr. Carrie Miller, executive director of the Poverty Alleviation Initiative, was the keynote speaker and shared her experience with the GBI pilot program in Los Angeles, which helps close to 1,000 families.
Fondation is very optimistic that the pilot program will be a success and force the County Board of Supervisors to consider and adopt the initiative, which in UPAS’ platform includes up to $500 million total investment in the poverty stricken residents.
“I think the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 for the pilot that Dr. Miller talked about. She heads the Poverty Alleviation Department in LA County. The question is to go beyond one thousand people in the first year. We expect the next several years for the council to expand basic income as one of our pillars,” adds Fondation.
The rest of the UPAS platform calls for a $20 million Food Justice Program; a $10 million investment in Digital Equity, another $10 million for public safety and a $10 million investment in NARCAN School Safety Overdose protection, which would require schools to have more than one kit to curtail a possible drug overdose to students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Presently, only one kit is provided to each school.
Previous to the assembly, Fondation reinforced the need for communities to organize and help push this initiative, which he says is ambitious but not unreal.
“If ordinary people don’t organize and take responsibility for demanding what they need, then the lack of accountability, the arrogance that comes forward when elected officials are in charge, they are going to do what they are pressured to do. We are saying these are aspirational goals, but they are not unrealistic either,” said Fondation. A total investment of close to $600 million would be needed to achieve all of the proposals.