The future of the Children's Investment Fund is on the line this year. The program's funding will need voter approval simply in order to survive.
The first hurdle will be the Portland City Council meeting of Feb 20, when city commissioners will vote on whether to put the Children's Investment Fund on the November ballot.
Portland voters approved funding for the Children's Investment Fund in 2002, with a five-year property tax levy that raises about $10 million a year for 66 programs. Among them are: Albina Early Head Start, which receives $424,000 and Self Enhancement Inc., which receives $339,000. Together these two programs serve about 200 African American children. In addition, the fund supports: health screenings for 800 children, substance abuse counseling for homeless teens, respite care for children at-risk of abuse or neglect and mentoring for students in Portland Public Schools.
Program administration costs are capped at 5 percent, which means 95 cents in every dollar goes to the programs the fund supports.
About half of all programs are culturally specific, such as the REAP and Bridgebuilders programs which help African American teens succeed in school, the Urban League's after-school programs and the Boys and Girls teen programs in North and Northeast Portland. About 25 percent of the children who are served in the fund's programs are African American, another 7 percent are Native American and 27 percent are Latino.
Advocates are asking supporters of the fund to turn out at 6 p.m. to the Feb. 20 council meeting.