Investing in human services has huge benefits for costs, people

by Mary Denton

Many of us spend more time now than ever before evaluating financial concerns for our businesses. We ponder how to mitigate expenses, how to maximize productivity, how to honor and engage both long time employees and those new to the work force. And while we apply our expertise to these areas, the public and private sectors are frequently putting Band-Aids on  social ills and a never-ending set of “solutions” that are often ineffective in prevention and early intervention. As we so carefully construct our business environments to produce healthy outcomes based on efficient and effective practices, we hemorrhage out the other side from the impact of ineffective social policy.

It is time to bring our influence to bear, wherever and whenever possible, to turn the tide of public effort to focus on prevention and early intervention. There is no financial excuse, there is no moral excuse.  The numbers speak for themselves.

    • Compared to a high school dropout, a single high school graduate yields a public benefit of over $200,000 more in lower government spending and higher tax revenues. If the number of dropouts were cut in half, the government would likely see a total of $45 billion in savings and additional revenue. (

  • The estimated additional lifetime income if high school dropouts had graduated with their class in 2011 in California alone: $20,782,000,000. (

By comparison, non-profit organizations, such as Sunny Hills Services, provide an array of prevention and intervention programs for pennies on the dollar spent on incarceration, homeless programs and outcomes of failed education. For example, Sunny Hills Services provides gang prevention and early-intervention programs in Sonoma County for $90,000 per year impacting 500 youth and their families. Many other non-profits offer programming  to shore up academic success, provide job skills training, assist with access to medical care and encourage healthy lifestyles.

Now is the time to stop throwing good money after bad. Now is the time to be heard at every opportunity to promote and endorse prevention and early intervention programs. It just makes good financial sense… and it’s the right thing to do.

Mary Denton is chief executive officer of Sunny Hills Services and can be reached at 415-457-3200 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Bob Florez is the program director for Sunny Hills gang prevention and intervention programs. You can contact Bob at 707-569-0877 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.        

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