Sacramento's new youth programs chief 'sees a lot of myself' in city kids
Lindee Lane knows the challenges young people face growing up in Sacramento's economically struggling neighborhoods. She spent her junior high and high school years in North Highlands, where she was raised by a single mother who immigrated from Mexico as a child. She is the first member of her family to graduate from college.
After stints in the Midwest, on the East Coast and in Oakland, Lane returned to Sacramento this month to fill the city's newly created job of Youth Development Policy Manager at the City of Sacramento.
"I can see a lot of myself in these young folks, Lane said. "I come from a modest background, and I very easily could have gone down a very different path if it wasn't for the support I had from family and mentors."
Lane is responsible for overseeing the direction of city youth programs under a new youth program policy framework adopted by the City Council in late 2017. She plans to focus first on assessing all the disparate youth and internship programs being run out of various city departments and seeing how they fulfill the city's vision and whether they can better align with one another. The Department of Parks and Recreation recently took a step in that direction when it was renamed the Department of Youth, Parks & Community Enrichment, with all of its youth programs concentrated in one division.
Lane's arrival coincides with a push by Mayor Darrell Steinberg for Sacramento to substantially step up investing in youth. Under Mayor Steinberg's leadership, the City Council is expected to vote July 31 to place an extension of the half-cent Measure U sales tax on the November ballot and raise it to a penny. The first half penny would continue to be spent on services such as police and fire, but Mayor Steinberg envisions using the second half cent to invest in job creation, youth and affordable housing.
"The fact is that over many years we have seen a continuous decline in our city’s ability to invest in young people," Mayor Steinberg said. "We have one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the entire country. We have too many African Americans and Latinos who don't achieve any level of higher education, and many who don't even graduate from high school. That's on us."
Before coming to Sacramento, Lane was working as an analyst on youth programs in Oakland. Voters in that city authorized measures in 1996 and again in 2009 to earmark 3 percent of the city's unrestricted general fund to youth programs and services. That funding stream, the Oakland Fund for Children & Youth, generates about $15 million a year. Another ballot measure aimed at violence prevention also provides money targeted at youth.
"There's a lot of investment," Lane said. One program she worked on in Oakland that she's particularly proud of was the creation of a council of young people whose lives had been affected by law enforcement to advise the police department.
Lane said she was attracted to the Sacramento job because of the city's commitment to corral its youth programs under one vision and evaluate their effectiveness.
"There is a commitment, and the commitment is coming from city leadership," Lane said. "If you don't have that commitment coming from champions at the highest levels it's going to be hard to make any progress."
Lane said her training in working with diverse groups of people started when she managed apartment complexes in Fair Oaks and Carmichael while working her way through Sacramento State. After she graduated in 2008, she was hired by the California Coalition for Youth, where she rose from an administrative position to Director of Operations within a year. She went to work for the Mental Health America of California and was then chosen to participate in the National Urban Fellows Program. During her time as a Fellow she worked in the mayor's office in Indianapolis and obtained a master's degree in public administration from Baruch University.