Family Focus

Gujral Community Fund’s Mission: Keep Families in the City

Our mission is to help make our city more welcoming and accessible to all through addressing the needs of families and children. Families are a vital demographic for ensuring vibrant, safe and diverse cities. But in many urban areas, families are either choosing to leave or being forced out due to a lack of accessible public spaces, safe and appropriately-sized housing, and public support services. In San Francisco, the share of child-residents (under age 18) has fallen to just 13%.

“I’m a big believer in diversity in general, and young people are a part of that equation of diversity,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen, the first mother of a young child to be elected to full-time city office since former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier’s last election in 2006. “We’re going to become desperately boring if we only have wealthy adults.”

Recent studies have concluded that when city planning and development is directed with its youngest citizens in mind, everyone benefits. Safer streets and sidewalks, more parks and natural green spaces, accessible services such as health care, grocery stores, and farmers markets, and safe, structurally-sound housing make a city welcoming and accommodating for all residents.

Brent Toderian, Vancouver B.C.’s Chief Planner from 2006 to 2012, is a major proponent of designing cities with families and children in-mind. He has defined three key requirements that families need to thrive in urban environments: ensure family-sized housing, provide daycare, schools, and support services, design public spaces with kids and teens in mind.

At the Gujral Community Fund, our founders, Susan and Ash Gujral, expanded these requirements as we honed our program focus areas. We believe that to thrive in an urban environment, families need:

  1. Safe housing, free of toxic chemicals and structurally-sound
  2. Access to fresh, healthy food
  3. Neighborhoods with safe and engaging outdoor spaces
  4. Good prenatal care and nutrition for a healthy start

Links to supporting information:

Cities Alive: Designing for urban childhoods, Arup

Keeping Kids in San Francisco Makes the City Better for Everyone, San Francisco Chronicle

How to Design Cities for Children, Citylab

Keeping Cities from Becoming “Child-Free Zones”,

Young families typically leave cities for the suburbs. Here’s how to keep them downtown.,