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Summer Fund for Classified School Employees

SUMMER BRIDGE FUND

for

Classified School & Community College Employees

The Summer Bridge Fund (also called the Classified School and Community College Employee Summer Assistance Program) gives eligible classified school and community college workers the opportunity to receive up to a $1 for $1 match from the State of California on contributions workers make during the school year. The Summer Bridge Fund is not just a savings account – it’s a money match back program that’s guaranteed by the state.

Won With the Strength of SEIU Local 99 Members for All California School and Community College Employees

A group of SEIU Local 99 members in Sacramento about to meet with legislators in the State Capitol building - May, 2013

For seven long years, SEIU Local 99 members spearheaded the fight for the Summer Bridge Fund.

In 2018, through our persistence and unity, we won legislation and secured funding in the state budget for the program.

To get there, hundreds of members braved yearly “Midnight Ride” trips—weekday overnight bus trips to Sacramento—and took other actions. The mission – to raise awareness with legislators of our struggles, and gain their support.

Since winning the Summer Bridge Fund, we have ensured Governor Newsom and the legislature—as a moral imperative—continue supporting and allocating money for the program.

See pictures from past Midnight Ride lobby trips
2011 | 2012 | 5/2013 | 8/2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018

FAQ
CDE Program Page

How the Summer Bridge Fund Works

Timeline for Implementation

From when employees can begin enrolling to when they will receive the first disbursement of funds, the implementation of the Summer Fund program will occur in phases. Here is a handy timeline of key deadlines.

January 1
March 1
April 1
May 1
June 1
July 1 (2023)
July 15 (2023)
August (2023)

January 1

Your school district will notify you of its intent to participate in the Summer Fund for 2022-2023. Once your district decides to participate they CANNOT reverse this decision.

March 1

You will notify your district, in writing, if you want to participate in the Summer Fund in 2022-2023. This form will be provided by the California Department of Education (CDE). You must deliver your completed form to your district by March 1. This form will include the amount you’d like withheld from your monthly pay (up to the 10% limit) and how you would like to receive your payment. Find out if you are eligible in our FAQs. 

April 1

Districts must notify the California Department of Education of their participation in the Summer Fund.

May 1

The California Department of Education will notify participating districts the estimated amount of state funds you can expect to receive. If there are more participants than there are funds, the State Department of Education will notify participating districts the prorated amount of state funds you can expect to receive.

June 1

Your district will let you know the estimated state match funds you can expect to receive.

July 1 (2023)

On July 1, 2023, your district will request payment, the funds deposited by participating classified staff in each district, from the State Department of Education. 

July 15 (2023)

Within 30 days of a districts’ request, the State Department of Education will distribute the necessary funds to the district and these will then be distributed to participating employees. The first round of payments will be going out on or about July 15th. If you elected to receive your payment in one lump sum, you will receive the entire payout then. If you elected for two payments, the second payment is expected on or about August 15th.

August (2023)

Given this timeline, we expect to see payments to classified education workers around August 2023. If anything changes, we will update you and our page as soon as possible. 

Summer Bridge Updates

Summer Bridge Applications Now Being Accepted for 2022-23 Benefits. Apply by March 1st!

SEIU Local 99 members fought hard to win the Summer Bridge Fund (also called the Classified School Employee Summer Assistance Program). This program gives eligible classified school workers the opportunity to save money from their paychecks during the school year and receive up to a dollar-for-dollar match from the state during the summer break when work is not available. Applications to participate in the program in the 2022-23 school year are now being accepted and must be returned to your employer by March 1, 2021.

January 13th, 2022|

Frequently Asked Questions About the Program

Updated 1/14/22

No, the Summer Bridge Program is unaffected. If you applied by the March 1 deadline, you’ll still be able to start contributing in the 2022/2023 school year, and withdraw funds next summer. If you contributed for the 2021/2022 school year, you’ll be able to begin withdrawing this summer. The state is scheduled to send the first round of payments on or about July 15th. If you elected to receive your payment in one lump sum, you will receive the entire payout then. If you elected for two payments, the second payment is expected on or about August 15th.

For members who participated in the Summer Bridge program in the previous school year, the state is scheduled to send the first round of payments on or about July 15th, 2022. If you elected to receive your payment in one lump sum, you will receive the entire payout then. If you elected for two payments, the second payment is expected on or about August 15th.

Classified school and community college employees who are employed with a school or community college district for 11 months or less and who earn less than $62,400 per year in their district job are eligible to participate. You must also have been working with your district for at least one year to participate in the program.

Employees should expect to receive enrollment information and an application form from their employer by January 1 of each year. The completed form is due back to the employer by March 1. A copy of the form is available here.

Information from LAUSD for applying for the 2022-23 program is available here.

Your employer will provide enrollment information and details about where to submit your form. You can also find information on applying for specific employers on this page under the Updates section. The application form is available here.

You can have up to 10% of your monthly paycheck withheld during the school year.

Employees can opt to receive money in one lump sum at the beginning of summer recess or have it distributed in two payments over the recess.

No, the enactment of the program will not lead to a mandatory withholding on your paycheck in the same way that taxes, like social security and medicare, are currently withheld. You will elect, on the California Department of Education form, the percentage of funds you’d like withheld. You can contribute up to 10% of your monthly paycheck to the Summer Fund.

Think of the Summer Fund as an employer-matched 401k retirement account where you voluntarily contribute to.

Yes. In 2022, we fought for and won legislation that allows workers who work for the district during the summer months to receive matching funds from the state as long as the work they do during the summer is outside of their regular assignment.

You may withdraw from the program due to economic or personal hardship. You will need to request that the school district stop withholding contributions from your check and pay you any funds that have been set aside for your summer fund. Keep in mind, however, that if you withdraw from the program, you will not receive any matching funds from the state.

For every dollar you contribute to the fund, the state will match back your contributions dollar-for-dollar.

The school or community college district or county office of education must share with the CDE their intention to participate in the Summer Fund, the number of classified and community college employees participating, and an estimation of the total amount of funds to be withheld from those employees paychecks.

No. Funds from the state match for classified and community college employees will not be considered compensation for retirement benefits for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

From 2011-2018, we introduced bills in Sacramento to change the current law so that school employees could be eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits during the summer break. Unfortunately, those bills did not become law. During the process, however, we educated legislators about the problem. Many of them agreed that dedicated school workers should not have to suffer during the summer. Their main concern had been that the state cannot afford the cost of paying benefits out of the current unemployment insurance fund. That is why we had to come up with a different solution.

The Summer Bridge Fund created a new fund that school workers and the state will pay into. With this fund, employees are able to contribute up to the equivalent of 10 days of work. These funds can be used at the end of the school year.

As of 2022, community college employees are now eligible to participate in the Summer Bridge Fund thanks to the passage of AB 1691 (Medina).

A common misconception is that classified school workers are paying into the state’s unemployment insurance fund, but are denied access to unemployment benefits.

Actually, school workers do not pay into the state’s unemployment insurance fund. No money is deducted from their paychecks for this purpose. The reason they don’t pay into the fund is because—unlike other employees that do pay into the fund—school workers are currently excluded from accessing unemployment benefits. SEIU Local 99 members have fought to change that through legislation and influencing the state budget. The Summer Bridge Fund is part of the solution to addressing the summer unemployment issue.

Why are school workers excluded from access? School workers are not considered by the state and school district to be unemployed during the summer recess. This is the reason why school workers, under normal circumstances, are denied when they try to apply for unemployment benefits.

This does not mean school workers are completely ineligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits. There are some ways a school worker could be eligible:

  • Permanent layoffs: School districts pay into the state’s School Employees Fund (SEF). This is a voluntary fund managed by the EDD that is used to cover unemployment insurance benefits to school workers in cases of permanent layoffs. Note that a school district’s participation in the SEF has no effect on the pay of school workers.
  • Cancelled summer assignment: If a school worker was offered a summer school assignment and that assignment was subsequently cancelled.
  • No reasonable assurance: If a school worker does not have reasonable assurance to return to the same or similar position at the end of the recess or did not receive proper notification of reasonable assurance. Learn more about EDD’s guidelines on Reasonable Assurance.

Why a Summer Fund?

For too long, classified school employees across California have endured a cruel cycle of financial hardship. When school is out for summer recess, many of us go without work and without income. How can we move forward when anything we save for our family’s future is lost over the summer?

We’ve argued that when there’s no work to be found, we need a safety net. Yet, we’re barred from accessing state unemployment benefits because we aren’t considered seasonal employees.

So we said “no more” to this cycle of poverty. Through years of putting forth legislative bills, telling our stories of struggle to state legislators, and raising public awareness of our plight, SEIU Local 99 members led the way to move legislators and then-Governor Jerry Brown to finally recognize the cruel summer for what it is—a crisis and an injustice that calls for a solution.

In June 2018, Governor Brown signed the 2018-2019 State Budget with $50 million in funding for a summer relief fund matched by the state. The following year, Governor Gavin Newsom included an additional $36 million for the program in the state budget. This state funding established the Classified School Employee Summer Assistance Program, which allows eligible classified school employees to save money during the school year and receive up to a dollar-for-dollar matching contribution from the state during the summer when school work is not available.

We now have the safety net we need and deserve and we won it through union power.

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