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Our Story

Over 20 years of advocacy for our schools and students.

CEPS began in 1999 as a ground-up movement of parents and community members fed up with insufficient state funding of public education and the perpetual fiscal crisis in SMMUSD. They began meeting regularly to strategize ways to support and develop public funding sources that could help the district avoid financial instability and achieve better outcomes for all SMMUSD students and the local community.


In the years since, CEPS has grown into a political action committee that has been integral in the success of a wide range of parcel taxes, bond measures, and partnerships with SMMUSD, Santa Monica College, and the City of Santa Monica, leading to an additional $35 million annually and $450,000,000 cumulative revenue for the district. These revenue sources do not sunset and increase each year, and they currently compose 20% of the annual SMMUSD budget. 

Some highlights of CEPS’ accomplishments include: ​

  • Leading an unprecedented effort to increase funding from the City to the School District, CEPS is the catalyst that led to a facilities joint use agreement which guarantees an additional $10 million per year of local funding for SMMUSD (it includes annual cost of living adjustments and was just extended to 2027) and allows school facilities to be available for community use in our City where greenspace and fields are very much in demand.

  • Partnering with the California State PTA to create Caravan for the Kids, a 2-day event  featuring a 2,000-person rally for “Making California Schools Great Again” on the steps of the State Capitol in 2005

  • Raising $275,000, producing 13 pieces of direct mail, and organizing massive volunteer voter outreach to help successfully pass Measure R in 2008, which put into place permanent funding of $11 million per year, plus cost of living adjustments, for SMMUSD

  • Hosting Candidates Forums to help local voters hear City Council and School Board candidates’ views on supporting education

  • Convening annual State of Our School events for our Santa Monica and Malibu communities


CEPS has achieved these results through the hard work of an evolving and growing group of committed community members. They have circulated petitions, gathered signatures, organized speaking campaigns for City Council Meetings, stood on street corners, sent out mailers, and rallied on the Third Street Promenade, in front of City Hall, and at the State Capitol. Their advocacy work continues today in a wide range of efforts meant to sustain and strengthen the state of public education in Santa Monica and Malibu.


For a detailed timeline of CEPS’s history of accomplishments, click here

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