The importance of reading can never be underestimated. The staff of the Mission Promise Neighborhood always keep this fact front of mind when speaking to our families, whether at community-based organizations or in the four schools that comprise this federal education initiative.

To ensure that everyone in our community has the books they need to help their children thrive, the “Second Annual Mission Promise Neighborhood Holiday Book Giveaway & Resource Fair” was held Friday at MEDA’s Plaza Adelante. (MEDA is the lead agency of the Mission Promise Neighborhood.)

Family Success Coach Manager Amelia M. Martinéz C. and her team have been hard at work planning the event.

“Our Mission Promise Neighborhood families were so appreciative of the donated books at the first holiday book giveaway last year, so I knew we had to hold another event this season. It definitely gets everyone in the holiday spirit and is a means for parents to learn how to foster their children’s reading skills,” explains Martinéz.

Collaboration with partners is always needed. That meant donations of hundreds of books — for infants to eighth-graders — from the San Francisco Public Library and Tandem, Partners in Early Learning, the latter having a designated room to hold storytime for infants to 6-year-olds. This activity was a definite success, based on the abundance of smiles on the faces of kids … and their parents.

Also joining as part of the resource fair were four partners. Good Samaritan Family Resource Center and Mission Neighborhood Centers availed parents of child care services, while the San Francisco Public Library and One Degree helped families connect to resources online and assisted those without an email to open an account.

In MEDA’s Digital Opportunity Center, parents with library cards were assisted in downloading free tickets to popular neighborhood attractions, including the Exploratorium. Holiday outings will definitely be amazing this December because of this “Discover and Go” activity.

To add a holiday touch, Papa Noel showed up (a.k.a. Executive Director Eddie Kaufman of Mission Graduates). Kids excitedly toting their new books took a picture with Santa. Kaufmann masterfully played his role, enthralling the youngsters.

To complete the community effort, volunteers from John O’Connell High School and promotoras were on hand.

¡Felices pascuas y próspero año nuevo!

____________________________________________________________

About Mission Promise Neighborhood

The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.

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2567-11182016_vol-doubledutch-turkey-giveaway-2016-social-media-images_blogEveryone’s got a long shopping list for this Thursday’s Thanksgiving meal, but for some that list cannot easily be met … if at all.

The habitually underresourced sometimes cannot fit the added expense of this holiday meal into their tight budget. This is true of a number of Mission Promise Neighborhood families, with household incomes less than half that of the median of expensive San Francisco.

The good news is that 57 Mission Promise Neighborhood families now have the complete meal of turkey with all the trimmings, thanks to tech company DoubleDutch. That business’ philanthrophy was coupled with a donation of 25 turkeys from the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services (MONS).

“We’ve had families asking if we were going to give out turkeys this year, since Mission Promise Neighborhood has done so in the past. It’s great that DoubleDutch and MONS stepped up to help out and make these families’ holidays special,” explains Mission Promise Neighborhood Family Success Coach Manager Amelia M. Martinéz C.

Today’s recipients were chosen two ways. One way was via nomination by family success coaches, who work in four Mission schools – and at partner agencies — and are well aware of families most in need. Additionally, MEDA staff gave the names of clients they serve who might need assistance this holiday (MEDA is the lead agency of the Mission Promise Neighborhood education initiative.) This list included nine Mission Techies, a young adult program creating a pipeline for diversity in tech.

DoubleDutch donated the money to buy the 13- to 15-pound turkeys, which Mission Promise Neighborhood then purchased. The company also asked staff to donate sides, with everything from cranberry sauce and gravy to stuffing and green beans available for families.

DoubleDutch, which has a marketing platform to increase engagement at live events, also sent out two volunteers, J.J. Arnold and Claire Sands, to help with distribution of the food items. Sands even donned a turkey outfit, much to the delight of the youngsters on hand.

It was greatly appreciated that these hard-working DoubleDutch employees took time out of their busy schedules. After all, DoubleDutch was recently ranked the 95th fastest-growing company in North America, on Deloitte’s 2016 Technology Fast 500 – no easy feat.

DoubleDutch especially wanted to help the community this year, considering the shift in political climate. That’s why the company’s Nicole Infiesta organized today’s event.

A huge thanks to DoubleDutch: you’ve made some Mission Promise Neighborhood families’ holidays memorable. As one of the recipients, Melissa, stated, “I’m very happy! My family of six will have a great meal this year.”

____________________________________________________________

About Mission Promise Neighborhood

The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.

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Monica stopped by so that her youngster could take a digital storytelling workshop. Jorge wanted to learn how to look for work online. Middle-schooler Jasmine wanted to create her first mobile app.

These were just three of the many Mission Promise Neighborhood families that came to Everett Middle School last night for the seventh “Get Connected!” event. This jam-packed evening brought in volunteers from the tech world to teach digital literacy to the underserved Mission community.

Essential sponsorship came in many levels. The event’s Platinum Sponsor was Google, Gold Sponsor was Facebook and Silver Sponsor was Everett Middle School, the latter providing funding and the venue. Community Sponsor Univision was on hand with a deejay to get the crowd going, while Hospitality Sponsor Pollo Campero stepped up to the plate and provided much-appreciated dinner for all attendees.

The evening started with a resource fair, so that families could learn of all the free services in the Mission. Support for Families, La Raza Centro Legal and SF-Marin Food Bank all tabled.

Comcast staff was on hand, signing up residents with packages as low as $9.95/month. That broadband company’s Internet Essentials program is available to students with free or reduced-cost lunch — or at a school where a high percentage of students are — with the 400+ students at Everett Middle School all deemed eligible.

Such a connection is vital. Despite the Mission being the center of all things tech, too many Mission families are using just a smartphone for their internet connection at home. That is not enough. Families and students need a computing device with a keyboard so that a parent can look for a job online or a student can write an essay.

A recent School Climate Survey done at Everett revealed that just 59 percent of these middle-schoolers have access to a desktop or laptop computer at home, while 51 percent have a tablet and 74 percent have a smartphone. One of the aims of the Mission Promise Neighborhood, the federal initiative of which Everett Middle School is a part, is to provide education on the need for high-speed internet and a computing device in the home for all Mission students.

The workshops at the event helped with this education. Volunteers taught everything from basic digital literacy to internet safety to creating apps. These one-hour classes ran from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

PanelAfter the workshops, a career panel was on hand to share their stories of getting into tech. Panelists included: Roberto Mejia from Jones.IT, based in the Mission; Claudia Hernandez from YouTube; Abraham Velazquez from DropBox; Veronica Murillo from LinkedIn; and Jim Van Tassel from Univision. Their inspiring stories showcased that there is a place at the table for everyone in the tech sector.

After enjoying their chicken dinners generously donated by Pollo Campero, it was time for a raffle. Anyone who had garnered three signatures from the resource fair or workshops was eligible.

There were gift cards. Tablets. Even a Chromebook. All winners grinned from ear to ear when their names were announced.

The seventh “Get Connected!” event was a definite success, with the community brought together and lives bettered.

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About Mission Promise Neighborhood

The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.

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Last night, hundreds gathered in the Mission Promise Neighborhood for the second community meeting on the Mission Action Plan 2020 (MAP 2020). The theme was “A Plan for and Community Discussion on Affordability, ” with the venue Buena Vista Horace Mann School on 23rd Street. A resource fair on tenants’ rights — and other issues of community importance — was part of the event presented by the City and County of San Francisco, Calle 24, the Cultural Action NetworkDolores Street Community Services, MEDA, Pacific Felt Factory and other community-based organizations.

The goal of MAP 2020 is to retain the socioeconomic and cultural diversity of the Mission neighborhood by providing solutions to help protect tenants at risk of eviction, increase affordable housing, stem the loss of social and community services offered to low- to moderate-income residents, and support and retain local businesses, including employers providing working-class jobs. The aim is to keep 65 percent of the Mission as low- or middle-income residents.

City officials on hand included District 9 Supervisor David Campos, Director of Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services Joaquin Torres and Jeff Buckley, who is senior advisor to Mayor Lee.

To welcome the attendees, City Planning Director John Rahaim took to the mic, explaining how San Francisco is trying to address the needs of Mission residents by being part of these community meetings.

Rahaim was followed by Director Antonio Aguilera at San Francisco Day Labor Programand Women’s Collective, who explained the need for the community’s voice to be heard.

Next up was Chirag Bhakta, of the Mission SRO Collaborative, who shared data from a PowerPoint. Bhakta’s dialog was peppered with these sobering facts: there were 989 eviction notices in the Mission from 2009 to 2014, with 1,174 Latinos compelled to leave the neighborhood between 2010 to 2013. He then explained that these numbers are probably conservative, as eviction numbers do not showcase buyouts and that undocumented people may be fearful of being part of a census.

Urban Planner Claudia Flores, from the San Francisco Planning Department, then continued on with the presentation. Flores spoke of the major accomplishments in the Mission community since the initial meeting one year ago. In that time, a set of community organizations and the City have been working to research and discuss the ideas collected, and implementing some immediate, short-term solutions.

There have been major wins, including:

  • Pushing for neighborhood-preference legislation.
  • Increasing resources for legal representation for tenants.
  • Expediting 100 percent affordable sites (more than 300 units).
  • Acquiring an additional affordable site at 490 South Van Ness.
  • Dedicating funding of $50 million for the Mission from the Prop A housing bond that voters passed last November.
  • Implementing higher scrutiny of market-rate projects through interim controls.
  • Launching a nonprofit and creative-space displacement program, with $4.5 million in funding.
  • Augmenting resources for PDR enforcement and technical assistance.

“We’ve already had some major victories in the past year, but there is much more to do. Mission Promise Neighborhood community input is vital to this process, so I am excited to see so many partners, city officials and neighbors here tonight,” stated MEDA’s Director of Community Real Estate Karoleen Feng.

Topics for discussion tonight ranged from how to preserve existing rent-controlled housing/SROs and increase job opportunities to stemming the loss of community-serving businesses and building more 100 percent affordable-housing developments. Attendees broke into groups, in English and Spanish, to discuss these weighty topics. The clear topic of interest was affordable housing — and how it could be funded. Community Engagement Manager Dairo Romero of MEDA acted as a facilitator for the Spanish-speaking tables.

The community’s valuable input will be discussed by organizations and the City, collaboratively working on solutions based on the ideas collected.

The final meeting will be in June, with the date and time to be determined.

____________________________________________________________

About Mission Promise Neighborhood
The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working, and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.

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MPN-JOC-Blog

What: Mission Promise Neighborhood Scholarship Fundraiser
When: Friday, April 15, 6pm to 9pm
Where: Cease & Desist, 2331 Mission Street (near 19th)
How: All tips and donations from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m will go toward the scholarships
Why: Two college scholarships for John O’Connell High School students!

One of the goals of the Mission Promise Neighborhood is to create a college-going culture at home. This is a vital step in the cradle-to-college-to-career continuum for optimum student achievement.

Research demonstrates that parental engagement in schools improves student engagement and is a good marker for academic achievement (Pagliarulo McCarron & Kurotsuchi Inkelas, 2006). The encouragement and involvement of a students’ family has been found to be one of the best predictors of postsecondary educational aspirations, with messages from parents being the main influencers of post-secondary attainment.

While a December 2014 Mission Promise Neighborhood School Climate Survey showed that 90 percent of parents think it is important for their child to go to college, only 81 percent actually talk to their children about doing so. Also, when broken down by ethnicity, the survey found that only 78 percent of Latino students were confident that they would attend college, eight percent lower than non-Latinos. Why the gap?

“We work with many families who immigrated here as adults, so they have not experienced college in the U.S. It is difficult for them to describe and support the steps to get to and through college without that experience,” explains Mission Promise Neighborhood Education Manager Laura Andersen.

A community of support
Mission Promise Neighborhood partner Mission Graduates meets this need: the organization is committed to getting more youth from the Mission District into college, as a means to achieve economic equity and strengthen the fabric of the community.

Mission Graduates has an embedded College and Career Team at John O’Connell High School. The nonprofit has worked with all sophomores through seniors on everything from transcript reviews and internship applications to completing the FAFSA and successfully applying to college.

To foster a college-going culture with an even younger audience, Mission Graduates will hold its Parent University at Everett Middle School on March 24. The goal is to map a path to college, and to ensure that families can remove any potential obstacles. The understanding is that it is never too early to whet students’ appetites for higher education.

There are other community-based organziations providing college prep in Mission Promise Neighborhood schools, including 7 Teepees, 100% College Prep, First Graduate and PIQE at Everett Middle School, plus FACES for the Future and Jewish Vocational Services at John O’Connell High School. This collaboration provides many levels of support for families looking to successfully guide their children through the college process.

Financial need
Even with all of this support, financing a college education can seem daunting. That’s why a fundraiser is being held on Friday, April 15; the venue has been generously donated by Cease & Desist, a popular Mission bar.

The goal is to fund one-year scholarships, ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 each.

These one-time awards will be granted to a pair of first-generation college-going students from John O’Connell High School, one who has been accepted to a four-year college and another who will be attending a two-year college, with enrollment in the 2016 to 2017 school year. Grantees are students who have participated in services from community organizations and school programs, been active in the community and been academically successful. Financial need must also be demonstrated.

At the fundraiser, volunteers will serve as bartenders: Gabriel Medina and Nathanial Owen from the Mission Economic Development Agency; Laura Andersen from the Mission Promise Neighborhood; and Gabriela Navarro from Jamestown Community Center.

Even the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has generously offered to volunteer, with Jonathan Garcia and Matt Haney taking part. Haney serves as president of the Board of Education.

All tips from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at both the front and back bars, will go toward the scholarships. Donations will be accepted (credit card or cash). There will also be raffles.

Please join the community for a guaranteed fun time as we make two college dreams come true in the Mission Promise Neighborhood!

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About Mission Promise Neighborhood
The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working, and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.

Read More

Blog-Dr Seuss Day Celina 030716

“Green Eggs and Ham.” “The Lorax.” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Plus, of course, the ever-popular “Cat in the Hat.”

Most have pored over the poetic words of one or all of these Dr. Seuss books at some point, either as a youngster or reading to their own child. Not surprising considering the numbers: 600 million copies were printed of his 60 titles during Dr. Seuss’ lifetime, with translations into 20 languages.

Yet most know little about this guy with the interesting name of Dr. Seuss.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He studied at Dartmouth in neighboring New Hampshire before venturing overseas to Oxford in England to continue his education. Turning avocation into vocation, Geisel worked as an illustrator and cartoonist at two renowned magazines, Vanity Fair and Life, later venturing into the ad industry.

After World War II, Geisel shifted his focus to children’s books, under the moniker Dr. Seuss, with an enviable volume of stories produced until his death in 1991.

Each year, the National Education Association (NEA) promotes “Read Across America Day” on March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

Ms. Rose, a teacher at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, makes sure this Mission Promise Neighborhood school takes part in this nationwide event to celebrating reading.

Family Success Coach Celina Ramos-Castro underscores the need for such events by explaining, “It’s essential for our kids to develop a love of reading. This promotes vocabulary building and is critical to families learning English as a second language, which is the case for many Mission Promise Neighborhood students at Cesar Chavez Elementary School.”

Ramos-Castro’s job is also to connect parents to resources to better their child’s reading skills. She knows of many community-based organizations – all part of the Mission Promise Neighborhood initiative – that can help.

One such agency is Tandem, Partners in Early Learning. Tandem works in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, with a mission to “provide programs and services in high-need communities.” An example of their community impact was the successful Mission Promise Neighborhood holiday book giveaway, held at The Women’s Building in the Mission last December. Tandem was on hand to foster parents reading to their children. Other partners participated, with the Children’s Book Project donating books and the San Francisco Public Library tabling to avail families of resources.

Such educational events are an essential part of the two-generation approach of the Mission Promise Neighborhood, as a means to counter impediments to family and student success.

The challenge can be told via the numbers. At an early age, only 8.6 percent of 3-year-olds in the Mission Promise Neighborhood meet Desired Results Development Profile (DRDP) standards for English-language ability. Once in elementary school, 15 percent of third-grade students (compared to 48 percent in SFUSD overall) score at or above proficiency in English-language arts, while 22 percent of fifth-grade students (compared to 55 percent in SFUSD overall) score at or above proficiency in the same category.

The Mission Promise Neighborhood Survey in 2014 found that 64 percent of families in the Mission are reading to their children three or more times per week. That’s something to celebrate on this “Read Across America Day,” but there is still much work to be done.

To foster reading, Cesar Chavez got into the Dr. Seuss spirit today, with all grades (pre-K to fifth) taking part. To generate interest, a table was set up promoting the event. Students could be seen snapping pictures with a colorful Dr. Seuss poster located at the entrance of the school.

School staff and parents – each donning a handmade, paper “Cat in the Hat” headpiece – ventured into 25 classrooms, with the volunteers reading a story for 15 minutes. All volunteers then received an NEA certificate of appreciation.

Elvira Arriola epitomizes the power of the community’s involvement in today’s “Read Across America Day” event. Elvira and her two daughters live on Capp Street in the Mission, with both children having been students at Cesar Chavez Elementary School. For the last decade, Elvira has taken the time to read in the classrooms of her daughters.

Elvira has made the effort to create a familial culture of reading in her household.

Her youngest child is currently a second-grader, with the mother reading at home in Spanish to the bilingual youngster. Elvira’s 13-year-old turns the tables by reading to her mother in English, bettering the parent’s skills.

Elvira speaks of her experiencing bringing that love of books to school today by enthusiastically exclaiming, “I am so glad I could read to the kids. It’s great to see their smiling faces. I know they are understanding the joy of reading!”

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About Mission Promise Neighborhood
The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working, and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.

Read More

MPN-Blog

Braving inclement weather as some much-needed rain swept through the Bay Area on Monday, scores of Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) families donned rain jackets and streamed into the ornate Women’s Building for some much-needed community support, in the form of books for kids.

Explaining the choice of books as gifts, MPN Family Success Amelia M. Martínez C. stated, “There were a number of community toy drives scheduled in the Mission for the holidays, but MPN chose to make the gifts educational. It’s important for our low-income families to have access to books. Books may not be the first thing parents buy — books can be out of reach when you’re on a tight budget. Today MPN is helping families instill learning.”

Partnering for the event were the San Francisco Public Library and Tandem, both knowing that early learning is strongly tied to long-term academic success. Tandem’s mission to “spark joy and close the opportunity gap” was clearly met, as evidenced by the smiles on families’ faces as they chose their books for holiday presents.

Book offerings ran the gamut from fiction to nonfiction, historical novels to whimsical tales. Age brackets started at newborn and headed up to eighth grade.

MPN Early Learning Family Success Coach Ada Alvarado, who helped coordinate the holiday event, knows the importance of parents reading to their children. “It’s essential to develop a passion for books at as early an age as possible. It’s all about vocabulary building. Parents can do things as simple as asking open-ended questions or pointing things out, so as to elicit responses in their children. Books are the ideal way to facilitate such learning.”

Alvarado’s statement is backed up by myriad studies. Just last year, an American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement, “Literacy Promotion: An Essential Component of Primary Care Pediatric Practice,” claimed that “reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime.”

The policy statement also delineated the following incisive data:

  • Every year, more than one in three American children start kindergarten without the language skills they need to learn to read.
  • Reading proficiency by the third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success.
  • Approximately two-thirds of children each year in the United States, and 80 percent of those living below the poverty threshold, fail to develop reading proficiency by the end of the third grade.
  • Children from low-income families hear fewer words in early childhood and know fewer words by three years of age than do children from more advantaged families.

The Mission Promise Neighborhood Survey in 2014 found that 64 percent of families in the Mission are reading to their children three or more times per week. This is something to celebrate! MPN aims to ensure that the initiative’s partners continue to improve that number and get to 100 percent. Also, it is imperative to start this process as early as possible, since the MPN team knows that this is critical to brain development and vocabulary building.

There were plenty of books, neatly stacked on tables and grouped for age appropriateness, for MPN families to work toward that goal. Hundreds of books, actually.

To garner such a significant donation, it was Children’s Book Project to the rescue. For over two decades, this organization has been replenishing libraries in schools, public health centers, daycare centers, homeless shelters — anywhere there is such need. All books are free, with some new and others “gently used.”

MPN-Carrier with Books-InsideWith arms laden with books — and even one infant carrier serving as a shopping bag, filled to the max–departing families were also offered a gift bag teeming with goodies. This included free passes to a trio of local kids’ venues: the Asian Art Museum; the Bay Area Discovery Museum; and the Cartoon Art Museum.

MPN parents left knowing there would be gifts for the holiday … and that the gift of learning would be part of their kids’ futures.

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MPN-Google Get Connected-Blog 102415While most low-income Mission families know the need for being connected, they often don’t know how to get started. This is especially true of immigrants—newcomers to this country with myriad tech options from which to choose. That’s why the goal of today’s sixth “Get Connected!” event, held at MEDA’s Plaza Adelante, was to help parents learn the best ways to keep their children safe online while optimizing the use of educational apps. For the youngsters, the goal was to whet their appetites for all things tech while creating an app in an hour.

Google presented the event, with volunteers such as Hector Mujica (photo above) teaching a class called “High Seas” in a lab packed with fourth- to eight-graders. “High Seas” focuses on computer science taught in a playful, age-appropriate format.

To combat the lack of connectivity in the neighborhood, families signed up for a high-speed internet plan for as low as $10 a month. One sign-up was by Carmen Ramos, who explained that the $40 price per month she had formerly been quoted by an internet provider was not feasible given her family’s tight budget. A smile crossed Carmen’s face when asked how her being able to sign up today for just $10 per month would change her family’s life. She explained, “My son is a third-grader at Cesar Chavez Elementary, a Mission Promise Neighborhood school. We have been going to the library for the past year, but that takes time. Now my child can study at home, as it should be.”

There was a Technology Career Panel on hand, explaining how they wound up in tech—sometimes via serendipity. The panel comprised: Caitlin Crump, senior data scientist at LinkedIn; Roberto Mejia, IT support engineer at Jones IT; Alberto Melgoza, financial planning and forecasting systems tech lead and solutions architect at Google; and Kamilah Taylor, senior software engineer at LinkedIn.

Raffles for six laptops were held, with four elated young winners hardly able to tote the computer they were handed. Of the two adult winners, one was Carmen Ramos, excited that she now added a computing device to the low-cost internet for which she had signed up earlier in the day.

Google Cardboard-InsideThere were also 10 Google Cardboard certified viewers raffled off. This innovative product offers virtual reality on your smartphone once an app is downloaded.

Lunch was generously donated by Pollo Campero, with hearty plates of chicken, rice and beans served up by DoubleDutch volunteers.

In addition to Google’s Presenting Sponsorship for “Get Connected,” there was additional sponsorship from LinkedIn, DoubleDutch and Microsoft.

Mission Promise Neighborhood partners were on hand to avail the community of their free services. Partners included Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, Mission Neighborhood Centers and Support for Families.

Stay tuned for details on the next “Get Connected!” event, and connect your family to tech.

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MPN Education Forum 2015-Blog

“Today is a special day because this is the first step you are taking with your children as they begin a new school year,” enthusiastically stated Director, Mission Promise Neighborhood Raquel Donoso, as she welcomed a crowd of over 200 who packed the Salvation Army Mission Community Center on an abnormally hot August morning this past Saturday.

The Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) is a collaborative of over 20 partners, including the school district and mayor’s office, that have come together to make sure every family in the Mission has the resources to support their children’s learning. MPN is building a pipeline that begins at birth to make sure every child has medical care, attends an early learning program, is doing well in school, and graduates ready to attend college and begin their career.

Echoing Donoso’s comments was the next up to speak, Karling Aguilera-Fort of the San Francisco Unified School District. He spoke of getting your children off on the right foot for the 2015-16 school year, and that there were resources to help families succeed so that students achieve.

The City’s support was also showcased by Chief Deputy Director, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services Derick Brown.

Following Aguilera-Fort was District 9 Supervisor David Campos. Originally from Guatemala, Campos explained his empathy for immigrant parents wanting their children to succeed. The Harvard and Stanford graduate spoke of the need to create a college-going culture at home, knowing that such support from his family fostered his achievements.

t was then time for families to break off into two information sessions: one for elementary school; and the other for middle/high school. The aim was to offer parents and students a roadmap for what to expect over the course of the school year, with a discussion on everything from mandated tests to the importance of attendance to planned meetings. Mission Graduates‘ promotoras (community outreach workers) facilitated the middle/high school workshop.

MPN Leadership Academy Manager Laura Olivas explained the impact of these classes as follows: “One mother of an adolescent advised me that she didn’t realize that a certain grade-point average was needed to be maintained by students. She now knew that fact and, more importantly, knew she needed to watch that GPA over the course of the school year.”

There were then sessions on issues of importance to MPN families, based on neighborhood surveys to determine stressors in the low-income Mission community. Causa Justa :: Just Cause advised on tenants’ rights. La Raza Centro Legal spearheaded immigration classes. Parents for Public Schools counseled on how to build a college-going culture at home.

Families who had a child under age five also received a tote bag with child development information, in English and Spanish, along with ideas for how parents can help promote their child’s development. The bag included an age-appropriate toy and books. Staff from Tandem, MPN’s literacy partner, attended the event and provided young children with books.

Liz Cortez and Ada Alvarado, of MPN’s early learning team, conducted an early care and education survey. Explains Cortez, “The goal of the survey was to get a sense of the community need for child care and parenting resources. What has been their experience? What would they like to be different? The information we received is vital to our advocacy efforts in improving access to slots and resources.”

After attending classes, each pre-registered family was given a backpack donated by the Salvation Army, Mission Lodge and the Golden State Warriors. The Mission Lodge and Walgreens came through and provided the backpacks’ offerings of a pouch with pencils/pens, books, calculators and more.

There was then lunch and time to pick up materials from partners who were tabling at the Education Forum, such as Good Samaritan Family Resource Center and Mission Neighborhood Health Center. Partner staff answered questions, with families now better informed than they had been just a few hours prior.

Summed up MPN Family Success Coach Manager Amelia M. Martínez C., “The Education Forum was a definite success. We know that families were offered the information they need so that MPN students can achieve. It’s going to be a great school year!”

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GC-Blog“I need to understand technology so that I can help my child succeed in school,” explained Mission resident Miriam, who came with her eight-year-old daughter to a free Mission Promise Neighborhood technology event at MEDA’s Plaza Adelante today (more pictures).

GC-Inside #1Miriam was just one of many Mission residents who dropped by to take digital literacy classes taught by a number of volunteers from the tech world. This “Get Connected! event,” presented by Accelerate with Google, was the fifth in the series to date and was possible only with the additional support of Platinum Sponsor ECHO Technology Solutions; Gold Sponsor Kapor Center for Social Impact; Silver Sponsor Comcast; and Community Sponsor Zoomforth.

The need to bridge the digital divide is clear: a Mission Promise Neighborhood School Climate Survey, conducted last year, indicated that just 54 percent of residents had a computer at home. This stands in juxtaposition to being in the Mission, the neighborhood of choice for many of the innovators creating the next greatest app or messengering device, thereby revolutionizing global interaction.

Classes today spanned all age ranges, with fun, physical activities for kids to Android app building.

Additionally, there were non-tech offerings running the gamut from housing resources and getting your GED to signing up for a WiFi point of access.

A packed room also was offered the invaluable counsel of a Latino Career Panel, who shared their intriguing stories of how they wound up working in the world of tech. Panelists included: Juany Torres of Google; Martin Thormann of ECHO Technology Solutions; Lawrence Coburn of DoubleDutch; Daisy Galvan of Facebook; and Roberto Lopez from Apple. The takeaway was that there are opportunities for Latinos in the tech industry, especially with the Hispanic population growing the fastest of any minority in the U.S., translating into a market the tech industry will want as customers.

GC-Inside #2As an added benefit, every person who attended five workshops today was entered into raffles of over 20 tablets and prizes, courtesy of Google. The winners’ faces beamed with joy, as they now had a computing device to better their family’s lives.

Summed up Miriam as she left Plaza Adelante, with a Google Nexus 7 tablet in hand, “I now have more of the tools needed to help my family. I look forward to learning more!”

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