Case Study

Northern California School Bond Measure

San Jose USD


The San Jose Unified School District serves a large and diverse portion of the city of San Jose, including 27 elementary schools, six middle schools, six high schools, and multiple auxiliary schools for alternative education.

In 2011, the District adopted a strategic plan to prepare its students for the future called Opportunity21. This plan laid out the curriculum and upgrades that would be necessary to eliminate the opportunity gap and provide every student with a 21st century education.

In examining their budget and funding challenges in light of the goals set out by Opportunity21, District leadership saw that by paying off facilities leases, the District would be able to make significant general funds available for important academic programs. They also recognized that state funding would not provide the technological upgrades necessitated in the plan.

A potential bond measure provided the opportunity to make the funding available for the programs and technology upgrades needed to make Opporunity21 a reality—however in order to meet these goals, voters would have to approve an ambitious $290 million bond measure. Polling showed that this was possible, but would necessitate a well-organized and well-funded campaign.

What We Did

San Jose USDWith little time to prepare for the campaign and an aggressive bond total, TBWB and the Measure H campaign team moved quickly to develop a robust fundraising strategy and to compile a comprehensive endorsement list to demonstrate a consensus among local leaders across different interest groups and geographic areas in support of Measure H.

Due to the large area of the District and the number of schools and neighborhoods covered, TBWB created a regionalized mail plan that included six versions of each mail piece. Each version emphasized the mailing areas neighborhood schools, and included endorsements and quotes from local leaders that would resonate with that particular community. This way, the campaign was able to speak to voters about how Measure H would affect their own schools.

By emphasizing how Measure H would prepare students for their futures with the skills to become Silicon Valley’s next workforce, and by garnering a wide support base among prominent business, education, and government leaders across San Jose, Measure H passed with 71% of the vote on election day, far surpassing pre-election polling for a $290 million bond.