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A great new year for Next Generation

At Next Generation, we know that the challenges we face are daunting. America’s lack of investment in our most vulnerable children and our inability to take on climate change threaten the economy and stability of the world we will leave to future generations. But we’re also optimistic that, through smart projects, good partners, and great staff, we can make a difference.

At the close of 2013, our third year of operation, I can report that we have made great progress in the development of a body of work and a team that will have a big impact over time. The highlights reel from 2013 is impressive, as is a look at What’s Next for 2014:

  • We launched Risky Business, a new project chaired by Tom Steyer, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to assess the risk America’s economy faces from climate change. We’ve lined up a world-class team to take on this study; as they say, watch this space for impending announcements of other major partners who are joining this effort.
  • Along with the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, we also launched Too Small to Fail, a major public education initiative to empower parents with the tools they need to help their children, from birth through age five, have the best shot at success. Too Small to Fail is chaired by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Next Generation board chair Jim Steyer and will have a national public education effort that includes partners from Univision, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Parents Magazine; we’ll be announcing regional campaigns soon and partnerships with the business community to ensure key equity and accountability provisions.
  • We played an integral role in the implementation of California’s Proposition 39, working with legislators, agencies and advocating through social and mainstream media. As a result, small school districts will receive a higher minimum funding level for energy efficiency projects. Stringent standards for energy savings and project quality are baked-in, and transparency will be achieved through a new public database.
  • We produced an original series of reports on California’s Monterey Shale formation, which resulted in language being added to California’s first fracking bill that addressed “acid well stimulation,” a technique used in the Monterey fields.  
  • Our Children and Families team produced an important report, “Prosperity Threatened: Perspectives on Childhood Poverty in California,” which resulted in major news coverage across the state and testimony in front of the state assembly;
  • Next Generation absorbed the California Work and Family Coalition, which won a major victory this year with the passage of SB 770, which expanded Paid Family Leave throughout the state.

When I think back on the year, it’s hard to even grasp how much we accomplished, for a small, new organization – Next Generation grew its staff, grew its funding base, added new board members, greatly increased its traditional and social media presence, and developed a presence in the Hollywood entertainment community, where we and the Clinton Foundation are now working on incorporating messaging around the “word gap” into popular shows, viral videos and other delivery platforms.  This has forced Ann O’Leary and me to familiarize ourselves with current popular culture, which has greatly entertained our interns!

So What’s Next? The 2014 agenda looks packed. In our home state of California, we’ll continue to advocate proper implementation of Proposition 39. We’ll also help develop a Western State’s Energy Initiative and identify ways to help Central Valley workers save money on their commutes while reducing pollution. We’ll continue advocating for more and better early childhood education, access to services for undocumented kids and the Affordable Care Act, and strengthened support for working families. 

As the year closes, the staff is exhausted yet exhilarated – we feel privileged to work with an amazing board, great partners, and colleagues who are friends, not just co-workers.

As I write this, we have just finished a short goodbye party for two interns who are leaving Next Generation. Like many on our staff, I started my professional career as an intern, working for then-Congressman Mo Udall. I am constantly struck by the incredible energy, drive, compassion, and raw intelligence that our interns and young staff bring to Next Generation each and every day. They remind me that the reason we do the work that we do is because there are so many young people, all across America, who are counting on those in charge to make the right decisions, and give them a chance to live a meaningful life, to succeed in pursuing their dreams. 

We owe that much to our kids. That’s what motivates the remarkable staff at Next Generation, why they come to work every day, and why we will continue to push for thoughtful investment in America’s kids and families and aggressive action to fight climate change. I hope you’ll join us. Please feel free to send me your thoughts and comments on how to best move these issues – and provide a better world to the Next Generation.

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