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Message from Our Executive Director

In 2022, CPI turned 25. One of the hardest things about fighting for a just and equitable world is finding ways to keep hoping and believing that change is possible in the face of tragedy and pain. When hope is hard to find, I remind myself that for 25 years, San Diegans, including members of labor unions and community groups, have been working with CPI to transform San Diego into a region that respects and protects all workers and working-class people.

Though there is still a lot to be done, we have accomplished things that were once only dreams. We are transforming large institutions like city and county governments and school districts so that they better listen to the voices of and follow the direction of working-class people. We are fighting for and winning policies that improve working conditions and ensure that there’s somewhere to go to learn about and protect our rights as workers—whether it’s an Office of Labor Standards or Black Worker Center. And, we are training and supporting leaders who inspire us.

Keep scrolling for a snapshot of all we were able to accomplish together in 2022. Wishing you and yours a wonderful start to the new year!

Yours in solidarity,
Kyra R. Greene, PhD
Executive Director

Staff headshots - circle_Kyra

Happy new year from the CPI staff and board!

Transforming systems

At CPI, we don’t focus on any one industry or geographic area. We believe that achieving economic justice and prosperity for all requires structural changes and a focus on issues that affect all workers regardless of where they work. This includes access to paid sick leave, access to healthcare, protections against wage theft, and greater availability of housing that working people can afford. To achieve this, CPI builds powerful alliances that anchor campaigns to transform institutions so that they reflect the needs and better serve everyday working people and their communities. CPI ensures that worker voices are included in the decision-making process of how these resources are used and who it serves. This year, we continued to focus our work in the City of San Diego, County of San Diego, and San Diego Unified School District. Learn more about our campaign wins and highlights below.

City of San Diego

Community Budget Alliance

In 2022, the Community Budget Alliance (CBA) completed its 10th year of budget advocacy at the City of San Diego. This year, CPI and our partners in the CBA have been assessing how we, as a coalition and community, demand change. We want the city budget to challenge previous status quo budgets by supporting and centering San Diego residents with the greatest need. This means taking a proactive approach to tenant rights and preventing more people from becoming homeless, addressing environmental needs around the city such as more parks and trees in environmental justice communities, and setting up systems that care for Black and Brown youth, elders and low-income families. The FY 2023 budget cycle and previous budget cycles have been marked by wins that address community needs and equities that will continue to push San Diego to be a city for all. These wins are precursors to the change that can be made when we all stand for the needs of the San Diego communities.

CBA coalition members advocating at San Diego City Hall.

$3.57 million for a Housing Stability Fund: The Housing Stability Fund will be distributed through community-based organizations (CBOs) and provide short-term rent relief grants, security deposit assistance to help individuals secure permanent housing, or assistance payments for individuals needing to transition into new housing due to eviction and/or their financial situation. 

$1 million Increase to the Climate Equity Fund: The CEF provides funding for projects such as bike lanes, sidewalks, streetlights and park improvements to help low-income communities adapt to the effects of climate change. 

$471,000 for City-wide Language Access Program: This will help increase San Diegans’ access, understanding, and engagement in public decision-making in city council meetings, committee meetings, publications, city-wide programs, and community engagement efforts. 

$311,106 for a grant writer for sustainability investments: An inter-departmental staff grant writer/grant implementation manager will support climate equity investments in Environmental Justice Communities by finding and applying for grants that increase funding for communities that have been historically excluded. 

$287,164 for Chollas Lake Stormwater upgrades for improvements to Chollas Lake and updates to the Chollas Creek Regional Park Updated Master Plan.  

$250,000 Barrio Logan Truck Route Traffic Calming: This funding supports the design and installation of traffic calming features along Beardsley St. And Boston Ave. This will move diesel trucks away from driving through Barrio Logan and improve the air quality and health and safety of the community. 

$200,000 for a Nexus Study to create a Rental Registry: This funding supports a required study to assess the cost, associated fees, and the logistics of creating a rental registry in the city. This registry would hold all rental data (such as vacant rentals, number of evictions) and requires landlords to update rental information. 

Funding for Youth Environmental Recreation Corps to hire staff to develop and support a mentoring academy that would provide youth interns and trainees with opportunities to build leadership skills.  

$106,391 for a Transportation Planner to coordinate the transition to zero emission vehicles in public transit and climate action related transportation projects.  

Funding for Building Electrification Strategy to create a building decarbonization strategy and begin the transition from using fossil fuels to electricity. We will continue pushing the City to prioritize subsidizing and offsetting costs for low-income families.  

County of San Diego

Invest in San Diego Families

Our 2021 Invest in San Diego Families (ISDF) budget advocacy at the County of San Diego resulted in historic wins of funding for programs, services, and policies that have the power to changes people’s lives. This year, we focused on pushing for the programs that we won last year to be implemented with our values in mind and so that people can access these critical services. We have been working with county staff to launch the new offices and programs and tracking the progress here.

1) A worker justice fund that would assist workers facing retaliation on the job and workers who file complaints for wage theft and other labor violations;  

2) Creating new public bathroom facilities, installing shower stalls, and providing permanent hand washing stations to improve public health and lessen the criminalization of unsheltered people who are unable to use the bathroom with privacy and dignity;  

3) Continuing the immigrant legal defense fund to provide legal representation to people in immigration proceedings,  

4) Bilingual pay for county staff who use their language skills as part of their jobs to provide vital services,  

5) Increased staffing in the new Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement to investigate industries with high levels of wage theft and support workers in filing claims; and  

6) Funding alternatives to incarceration that are better for keeping communities safe and supporting individuals.  

All of these are part of an intersectional approach that is essential to improving the mental and physical health of working people and their families. 

  • – $5 million for Immigrant Legal Defense Fund: This fund is designed to make sure immigrants facing deportation in San Diego County have legal representation. 

– $16.9 million for Mobile Crisis Response Teams:
This program is designed to provide people with the resources and healthcare they need by having behavioral health experts respond to emergency calls related to a mental health crisis. 

– Expanded menstrual hygiene access program: The Free 4 Menstrual Equity pilot program was designed to improve public health and reduce infections by making sure everyone has access to menstrual hygiene products. Access to menstrual hygiene needs to be expanded to more County facilities. 

– $1.2 million for the Office of Labor Standards & Enforcement: This office is designed to be a place where workers can get information about their rights to fight wage theft, unsafe working conditions and receive help in filing claims against their employer. Additionally, the office will proactively investigate wage theft and enforce the County’s labor laws. 

– $3.3 million for the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs: This office will provide a centralized location to support immigrants and refugees in accessing the services and resources needed to thrive in San Diego. 

– $400,000 for a Doula Care access pilot program: This program is designed to create better health outcomes for low-income families and communities of color by providing assistance during the birthing process and after the baby comes home. 

– $1 million over 2 years for the Youth Environmental Corps: This program is designed to provide opportunities for youth to access green jobs. 

– $15 million over 3 years for Tenant Counseling & Legal Services (ARPA funding): This funding helps ensure low-income tenants have greater access to information, counseling, and legal representation. 

– $40 million for direct stimulus payments. 

– Free phone calls: This program is designed to make sure people incarcerated in local jails are able to maintain needed connections with their loved ones without being exploited. The Sheriff’s Department has not provided an update on how they are implementing this program. We need to ensure people have enough time to talk to their loved ones, and that phone access is not taken away as punishment. 

– $2 million across County departments for language access: The language access policy is designed to remove language barriers that have historically excluded San Diegans from full democratic participation, and accessing the information, programs and services provided by the County.

San Diego Unified School District

Community Schools

The San Diego Community Schools Coalition was formed in 2018 to help San Diego Unified School District continue evolving to meet the needs of working families by creating community schools in every part of the district. On March 22, 2022, the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Board of Education voted unanimously to designate 5 schools as the first cohort of community schools in the district: 1) Hancock Elementary School, 2) Mountain View School, 3) Millennial Tech Middle School, 4) Hoover High School, 5) ALBA Community Day School. 

The school board also passed additional recommendations committing to the growth and maintenance of the community schools initiative in the district. We look forward to continuing our work with our partners to support continued expansion and implementation of the community schools model.

Community Schools Coalition leaders (current and past) at our event this year celebrating the designation of the first five community schools in SDUSD.


Justice for Warehouse Workers

CPI has been working with County Supervisors and Teamsters Local 542 to develop a warehouse worker ordinance in San Diego County. This work was partially motivated by CPI’s collaborative research on Wage Theft with Dr. Jill Esbenshade and through our work with PowerSwitch Action and the Athena Coalition. We came to understand that workers in the warehouse industry do dangerous work in environmentally hazardous conditions while receiving low pay and experiencing a lack of job security. We are advocating for an ordinance to improve wages, job quality, increase workplace safety and create stable jobs in the warehouse industry by requiring changes such as: paying a minimum wage of $25/hour for all warehouse workers, providing employees with reliable work schedules and 2 weeks’ notice of those schedules, ensuring at least a 10-hour rest period between shifts, requiring monitoring and reporting of indoor air quality on a monthly basis, using zero emissions vehicles inside warehouse facilities, building or adding rooftop solar on all warehouse facilities, and guaranteeing that at least 40% of jobs go to San Diego County residents.

CPI  co-hosted a rally and panel event in September 2022 to launch the campaign.

Project Labor Agreements

We published a report about project labor agreements (PLAs) as a policy tool that government officials can use to protect construction workers employed on public infrastructure projects. PLAs can significantly improve workplace standards and worker protections. PLAs allow public institutions to set and enforce basic standards, that can reduce wage theft, protect the health and safety of workers, advance equity in the industry, and ensure the responsible use of public dollars.

San Diego Black Worker Center

CPI is proud to be serving as the San Diego Black Worker Center’s (SDBWC) fiscal sponsor and incubation partner. This year, Brisa Johnson joined our team full-time as Director of the SDBWC and we partnered with the United Domestic Workers and others to publicly launch the SDBWC. As the incubation partner to the SDBWC, CPI provides support and expertise on the foundational work of incubating the SDBWC including CPI staff who support work around budgeting, facilitating the hiring process, communications, data and research, and administrative assistance. Working closely together, CPI and the SDBWC Director have begun hiring staff to grow the SDBWC and are playing a leadership role in developing the Southern California Black Worker Hub for Regional Organizing (SoCalBWHub). The SDBWC team has been hosting a series of focus groups and listening sessions throughout the county.

SDBWC director, Brisa Johnson, and SDBWC lead program coordinator, Eryn Wilson Nieves, receiving a recognition from San Diego City Council President, Sean Elo-Rivera, at the SDBWC launch event.

Developing the next generation of leaders

Students for Economic Justice

This year we celebrated 8 interns who completed our 2022 Students for Economic Justice summer program. The SEJ interns worked on campaigns for community land trusts, increasing transit options, organizing with stagehands for better pay, decreasing incarceration of youth, building a committee for reparations in San Diego County, organizing non-union workers, housing and tenants’ rights, and decriminalizing homelessness.     

2022 SEJ Interns standing outside in front of a pink flower bush

SEJ Interns, Class of 2022


Nothing we do is done alone. We’re grateful to our coalition partners, ally organizations, foundation funders, individual donors, and community members who make our work possible. We are humbled and honored to serve the San Diego region. 

Learn more about the coalitions we lead:


At the Center on Policy Initiatives, we fight every day to reduce inequality and build a community where working families thrive. Your support helps carry on CPI’s work for economic justice throughout the San Diego region.

Written by CPI San Diego

Justice for Warehouse Workers/ Justicia Para Trabajadores de almacen

join the fight against wage theft/ Unéte a la lucha contra robo de salario