Mayor Steinberg wants Sacramento to spend $350,000 on pop-up events for youths

Mayor Darrell Steinberg wants Sacramento to devote $350,000 toward hosting pop-up events for teenagers every Friday, he announced Monday.

The money would be combined with a $300,000 grant from Comcast to provide educational activity nights every Friday through June at 10 locations throughout the city, focusing on the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods, Steinberg said.

The Teen Tech Hubs and Teen Hubs will feature basketball, board games, art, virtual reality, 3-D printing and more, a city news release said.

The nights will be modeled after the 14 youth pop-up events held earlier this month in response to fights at Arden Fair mall. Those events – funded by the Sierra Health Foundation and attended by more than 1,400 – featured roller skating, a mobile barber shop, DJs, a photo booth, movies, pingpong and a talent show.

After attending one of the pop-ups earlier this month, the mayor wanted to do more, he said.

“When it was over and I had the chance to think about it, I was both happy and left feeling pretty empty,” he said. “Because when I went back and I looked at the consequences of the recession ... most Friday nights in Sacramento, there are only one or two of those kind of events in the entire city.”

Councilman Jay Schenirer said a few years ago, the city was spending only 1 percent of its general fund on kids. In the coming years, the city should be spending $10 million to 12 million in new money a year on kids, he said.

“Every young child needs to reach their potential or the city of Sacramento is never going to reach its potential,” Schenirer said Monday.

Yvonne H. Shabazz, who lives in north Sacramento, was happy to hear about the pop-ups so her grandchildren, who are ages 9 through 12, will have things to do on weekends.

“My own children, who grew up here, didn’t have that,” Shabazz said. “The more places they have to go, the more children learn to interact with each other.”

The pop-ups provide a place for teenagers from different schools to bond, as well as community leaders to come together, said Mervin Brookins of Brother to Brother, one of the hosts for the pop-ups earlier this month.

“It’s a platform for the people in the community to engage with one another,” Brookins said said. “It brings all the schools together in a noncompetitive environment.”

Steinberg previously proposed using some revenue from the Measure U sales tax increase voters approved in November toward initiatives for teens in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The city does not receive the new Measure U revenue until June, but has roughly $15 million in Measure U reserves that could be used for the pop-ups, in addition to general fund money, Steinberg said.

“It sounds like a lot of money, but in this city, especially after the passage of our Measure U, it’s just a small down payment,” Steinberg said.

The council will decide in February, when it approves the mid-year budget, whether to approve the $350,000 to fund the pop-ups through June. If councilors approve the plan, the pop-ups would start in February, Steinberg said.

Steinberg plans to ask the council to include additional funding in the next budget to keep the pop-ups going through the rest of the year, he said.

“(This is) permanent sustained funding to make sure our young people have safe, enriching and fun places to be on the nights where they’re most vulnerable – on Friday nights and let’s try to stretch this to Saturday nights as well,” Steinberg said.

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