photo by Alejandro Bautista

Hundreds of community members got their kids ready for the upcoming school year by taking part in the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) “2019 Education Forum.” This sixth annual event was held on Saturday, Aug. 10, with the venue graciously offered by City College – Mission Campus. 

The day started with a hearty breakfast featuring tamales and sweet bread, complemented by champurrado, a chocolate drink. Attendees were then welcomed by MPN Director Richard Raya, who was excited to see faces old and new in the crowd as he explained that the day was all about our families. As MPN is a place-based community anti-poverty initiative in San Francisco’s Mission District, 15 community organizations were represented at the event.

Mission Parent Advisory’s Abraham then echoed Raya’s words, adding that it was impactful that so many parents helped plan the event by brainstorming and taking an active role in choosing main themes, workshops and activities. Abraham also put forth a strong message that parent involvement is critical to student success. 

There were then concurrently running workshops and activities, as the City College campus bustled with activity.

A trio of workshops were offered on: getting kids kinder ready, centered on tips for families to keep in mind about the transition from early learning centers to kinder, plus an introduction to Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors, which has a mission to support parents in their role as family leader and as their child’s first and most influential teacher; cyberbullying and tips for internet safety, with suggestions around what parents can do at home to ensure their children safely use technology; and promoting literacy at home, with strategies for engaging young ones with books.

Activities were varied and compelling, as noted by MPN Family Support Manager Celina Castro-Saelao, who stated “The feedback has been that the children were having an instructional yet fun time playing and creating things. Parents were excited about all of the activities that were planned for the day.”

Kids could be seen bettering their athleticism by jumping rope, using chalk to create a colorful mural showcasing summer in San Francisco, and even face painting.

For the youngest attendees, a quiet space, complete with age-appropriate toys, was provided for infants and toddlers.

One popular activity was the Mission PhotoVoice Project, which has been making the rounds the past few years. Titled “An American Dream?,” this  is the work of women who met, learned, cried, laughed and worked together to produce powerful portraits of courage. Topics include the living conditions that families are forced to endure, their impact on health and well-being, fear of eviction and ending up on the streets, the fires and displacement occurring in the Mission, resiliency and hope, and potential changes and solutions. This exhibit, with an explanation by Early Learning Program Manager Ada Alvarado Freund, sparked many an insightful conversation with “2019 Education Forum” attendees, who told of their own issues in securing affordable and quality housing — an issue MPN is successfully working to combat.

A resource fair, with 13 partners tabling, was also well attended. Topics ranged from after-school programs and health to City College’s offerings and resources available at the San Francisco Public Library.

For the upcoming school year, families of children in K-12 received a backpack for each student, provided already stuffed by the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services. Inside each backpack was a bevy of much-needed items for academic preparedness: binders; paper; calculators; crayons; markers; rulers; and the like.

Additionally, MPN provided 55 of its own tote bags geared toward kids ages 0-5, with books and activities offered for parents and children.

Concludes Castro-Saelao, “The annual MPN Education Forum always sets our families and students off on the right foot for the upcoming educational year. Every child deserves the tools to succeed in school, and this event is part of making that happen. MPN looks forward to seeing everyone again next year.”


MPN wants to thank the following for their support of the “2019 Education Forum.”

Mayor London Breed
MPN Parent Council
Common Sense Education
Tandem, Partners in Early Learning
MPN Early Learning Collaborative
Instituto Familiar de La Raza
Mission Neighborhood Centers, Inc.
Mission Graduates: College Connect
Jamestown Community Center
Support For Families
Felton Institute
Parents for Public Schools
San Francisco Public Library
Mission Neighborhood Health Center

MPN also wants to thank our volunteers for the “2019 Education Forum.”

Karen Aguilar
Cammy Blackstone
Leonor Texcucano Cedeno
Diana Diaz
Gabriela Gody
Amaranta Korngold
Mireya Lopez
Loretta Pollard
Serenity Pollard
Daniela Rivas
Rosa Solorzano
Rita Vieira
Julian Yannacone
Sarai Tannacone



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(English follows Spanish)

1. ¿Cuando es el evento?
Sabado, 28 de Julio, de 9:30 a,m, to 2:30 p.m. Registración comienza a las 9 a.m.

2. ¿En donde se llevará a cabo el evento?
City College of San Francisco-Mission Campus, 1125 Valencia St., San Francisco.

3. ¿Que es el Foro Educativo?
El objetivo del Foro Educativo es reunir organización de la comunidad y a padres para intercambiar conocimientos y opiniones sobre temas importantes para la comunidad. Durante el día, los padres eligen dos talleres para asistir  de temas que les interesan mas. Los padres también tendran la oportunidad de platicar con organización que ofrecen recursos y aprender como pueden obtener eso recursos.

4. ¿Necesito registrarme antes del evento para poder asistir?
No es requerido registrarse antes del día del evento.

5. Quién puede atender este evento?
Familias que viven o asistan escuelas en el Distrito de la Mission.

6. ¿Cuántas mochilas podré recibir?
El dia del evento recibirá el máximo de 4 brazaletes, que es el mismo número máximo de mochilas que podrá recibir.

7. ¿Tienen que estar presentes mis niños para recibir las mochilas?
No es necesario que estén presentes para recibir sus mochilas.

8. ¿Habra cuidado de niño?
Proveeremos actividad para niños de 5 a 12 años.

9. ¿Habra comida?
Ofreceremos pequeños bocadillos en la mañana de desayuno. En la tarde daremos un almuerzo que se pueda llevar.

10. Dónde puedo recibir más información sobre el evento.
Puede llamar al (415) 282-3334 ext. 149;

Frequently Asked Questions, Education Forum 2018

1. When is the event?
Saturday, July 28, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.. Registration starts at 9 a.m.

2. Where will the event take place?
City College of San Francisco-Mission Campus, 1125 Valencia St., San Francisco.

3. What is an Education Forum?
The purpose of the Education Forum is to bring community partners and parents together to exchange knowledge and opinion about topics important to the community. During the day, parents choose two workshops to attend around topics that interest them. Parents also get to connect with community partners offering resources.

4. Do I have to pre-register for the event?
No, you do not need to pre-register to attend this event.

5. Who can attend this event?
Families that live or attend schools in the Mission District.

6. How many backpacks can I receive?
Four bracelets is the maximum per family — equivalent to the number of backpacks you can get.

7. Do my kids need to be present to receive a backpack?
No, kids do not need to be physically present.

8. Will there be child care?
Children’s activities will be provided for ages 5 to 12.

9. Will there be food?
There will be a light morning snack and a to-go lunch in the afternoon.

10. Where can I get more information?
You can call (415) 282-3334 ext.

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Last weekend, politicians, community partners, parent advocates and a bevy of dedicated volunteers came together to offer support to the habitually underresourced families of the Mission District. With 450 attendees — and 300 of them kids — the impact was huge. From educational workshops to partners offering free resources to supply-laden backpacks being distributed, the Mission Promise Neighborhood Education Forum 2016 was a definite success.

“The community came out on a Saturday to help you get your children ready for the next school year. The Mission Promise Neighborhood is excited to head into our fourth school year. We are seeing impact and know we will see even greater successes in 2016-17,” stated MEDA Executive Director Luis Granados in his welcoming statements. MEDA is the lead agency of this education initiative.

Granados was followed by Assemblymember David Chiu of the 17th District, who took to the podium toting baby Lucas, who turned 5 months old that day. Chiu explained how his parents were immigrants, as is his wife, so he understands the importance of a community making their voice be heard. He then implored the crowd to vote for this November’s Immigrant Parent Right to Vote proposition, which would allow undocumented parents to vote in School Board elections. “One-third of school parents in San Francisco currently have no say in their children’s education. When you are engaged in schools, my son, Lucas, will benefit,” Chiu explained to loud applause.

Following Chiu was Dean Jorge Bell of City College-Mission Campus, which generously offered its Mission campus on Valencia Street as the venue for the day’s event. This was the first time City College and the Mission Promise Neighborhood had teamed up. Bell extolled the need for parents to take college classes to better their lives by saying, “We have so much talent in the neighborhood, but that talent is a diploma away from translating to true success.”

Next up was Trustee Brigitte Davila of City College of San Francisco, who echoed Bell’s advice on the life-changing effect of obtaining an education. Davila was the first in her family to go to college, and she is now a professor at San Francisco State University, where she teaches government and policy classes.

The final speaker was Mission Promise Neighborhood’s Lucia Obregon, who took to the podium and showed an in-depth data presentation of issues needing to be addressed in the community.

As families then headed to take 60-minute workshops over the next couple of hours, some parents brought their young ones to the child care room, replete with activities to foster early learning. There was a large poster stating “Yo Soy la Mission,” with little ones drawing an outline of their handprints in crayons of various hues and then writing their names inside. There was even a “Design Your Neighborhood” interactive exhibit, with kids building community landmarks out of shoeboxes and placing them on the Mission map laid out on the floor. Finally, with reading to children ages 0-5 a major goal of the Mission Promise Neighborhood, Tandem, Partners in Learning was brought in to do what they do best. Said Program Supervisor Kaitlin Pearce of Tandem, “We had many meaningful interactions with families and child care providers, and we really appreciate you providing us access to share our information with the participants. I’m impressed at how the Education Forum continues to grow each year.”

Members of La Colectiva served as caregivers. One of their tasks were to feed the always-hungry children, finding a way to satisfy even those with the most finicky of palates.

Univision was also in attendance, setting up a booth in the City College courtyard and handing out “Vota” bags, as the Latino station backed today’s message of the community letting its voice be heard. Univision even provided a number of keepsakes to fill the bags.

Heading back to the auditorium, it was time to learn of parent advocacy. That occurred by Marco Ponce, Lourdes Dobarganes and Luz Rodríguez of the Mission Promise Neighborhood Parent Advisory Council (Concilio de Padres) taking turns at the podium — a powerful moment, as this was the first time any of them had addressed such a large crowd. Each spoke profoundly about how becoming a parent-advocate had bettered their lives, and the lives of those in the Mission community. The advocates made a call to action to those in the crowd to join the next cohort of the Parent Advisory Council, which starts this fall.

The excitement then grew as ScholarShare drew names for a raffle of five Chromebooks that the nonprofit had donated. Attendees clung to their raffle tickets as numbers were called out, with audible shouts of glee from winners. Being connected to a computing device at home is important for Mission Promise Neighborhood families, so these devices were definitely appreciated … and will be well used.

It was then time for distribution of supplies and backpacks. The Mission Promise Neighborhood team staffed a table of donated books, with exuberant children finding their favorites. All courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library.

There were even 750 tickets doled out for free admission to the Asian Art Museum, the Exploratorium and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Backpacks came from combined donations: 300 from Mission Lodge 169, with Factory 2-U’s donated supplies for these backpacks running the gamut from notebooks and pens to calculators and folders; 250 from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services (MONS), 46 from DoubleDutch; and 25 from LinkedIn’s HOLA group, with these brought to Mission Promise Neighborhood offices during a recent scavenger hunt held by the tech giant’s Latino group.

Senior Advisor/Director of Neighborhood Services Derick Brown of MONS spoke of the importance of this event as follows: “For the past 10 years, MONS, together with several City agencies, corporations such as Target and community-based organizations like Mission Promise Neighborhood, has worked to improve the educational experiences of children in the Bay Area by providing them with the resources necessary for academic success. San Francisco is home to thousands of elementary and middle school age youth in need of support inside and outside the classroom. The Mayor’s Annual Backpack Giveaway represents our unyielding commitment to the City’s youth, and helps to ensure thousands of young students are prepared for the upcoming school year. We really appreciate Mission Promise Neighborhood’s commitment to youth and leading by example. The Education Forum 2016 was a wonderful event and a much-needed resource for our community. Great job!”

The stuffing of so many backpacks was made possible courtesy of the formidable efforts of Mission Promise Neighborhood staff and partner volunteers. Executive Director Edward Kaufman of Mission Graduates could be seen filling backpacks for hours. Kaufman later donned City College’s ram mascot outfit for the backpack giveaway, much to the delight of the kids — and their parents.

Stated Kaufman of why his organization took part in today’s event: “Mission Graduates was proud to be a partner once again of the Mission Promise Neighborhood Educational Forum. I was impressed at the array of services available to the parents attending by the partnering agencies, ranging from health care to housing to child care to legal support. Parents and families were engaged and excited to learn more. The energy was infectious!”

Other partners were tabling all day, a steady stream of attendees learning of free resources to strengthen their families. Community-based organizations present included Housing Rights Committee, La Raza Centro Legal, Mission Neighborhood Centers, Mission Neighborhood Health Center and Support for Families.

Summing up the day’s event, Mission Promise Neighborhood Family Success Coach Manager Amelia M. Martínez C., who spearheaded the event, explained, “It takes a solid community effort to ensure our students are prepared for the school year. We had families lining up a couple of hours before we opened the door for registration. This showcases the need in the community — a need that I am proud to say was successfully fulfilled today. Not only was that need fulfilled, we also put forth the message of advocacy, which is vital in our community. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this event.”


The Mission Promise Neighborhood would like to thank our Education Forum 2016  event sponsors:

Factory 2-U
Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services
Mission Lodge 169
San Francisco Public Library

Thanks also go out to our partners who were part of our event planning committee:

City College of San Francisco
Good Samaritan
Housing Rights Committee
Jamestown Community Center
La Raza Centro Legal
Mission Graduates
Mission Neighborhood Centers
Mission Neighborhood Health Centers
San Francisco Unified School District
Support for Families
Tandem, Partners in Early Learning


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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Backpack-Preview-Image-BlogA sweet eight-year-old approached a volunteer from Target, the awaiting youngster being handed the first of 2,000 free backpacks the company had generously donated to Mission District schoolchildren.

The child’s face was aglow as she rifled through the supplies in the backpack–her backpack.

Gracias. Thank you,” the grateful child sheepishly stated, cognizant that she was now prepared for the upcoming school year.

The student’s parent, who asked to remain nameless because of the dire financial situation that led her to be one of the first in line at John O’Connell High School for today’s free event, was equally grateful. She had arrived at 7:30am for the 10am event, just to ensure her daughter had what she needed to achieve this upcoming school year.

Gracias por la mochila. Muchas gracias,” echoed the mother as she thanked the volunteer for the free backpack, and then grasped her daughter’s hand as they walked inside to partake of the rest of the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) activities.

School supplies fall down the list when you are trying to pay ever-escalating Mission rents and need to put food on the table every night. The reality is that around $28K a year–the average household income of MPN families, as determined by a recent Family Climate Survey–does not go very far these days in San Francisco. Especially if you are a single mother. Especially if you are an immigrant.

Backpack Giveaway
There were still 1,999 backpacks left to distribute to the anticipatory queue, snaking around three blocks for the first part of the 3-in-1 “Back to School Event.” This portion was made possible via the support of the San Francisco’s Mayor’s Office, Kindergarten 2 College, Walgreens, and Comcast, with Target donating the backpacks.

Backpack-6These backpacks had been stuffed with school supplies over the past few days. A bevy of volunteers from Google, LinkedIn, Deloitte Consulting and others was pieced together by MEDA to undertake this Herculean task.

Some volunteers were long-time neighborhood residents. Some were newcomers to the Mission or even lived elsewhere in the Bay Area. Regardless, they all selflessly chose to give back to the community.

At 11am, speakers took to the podium, with MEDA’s rousing Mattias Kraemer emceeing. The throng, which at this point packed the corridors to the max, was first welcomed by MEDA Executive Director Luis Granados, followed by District 9 Supervisor David Campos (pictured). The speakers continued, with sponsors of the event being given the chance to put forth their message.

Backpack-Campos-2By the time this part of the day’s event was concluded at 11:45am, all 2,000 backpacks had been given out—quite the feat.

“Get Connected!”
There was still much going on for the rest of the afternoon. MEDA’s third “Get Connected!” event, presented by Google, LinkedIn and the California Emerging Technology Fund, was held as a vital second part of the day, with the goal of continuing to bridge the digital divide in the Mission. Despite the neighborhood being action-central for the next greatest thing in tech, there are still residents who do not have an email. Yes, in 2014.

“There are issues regarding cost and relevancy. It can cost on average $65 a month to have high-speed internet in the home. And with two-thirds of our clients being immigrants, they may not see tech as being relevant to their lives. Our recent Family Climate Survey confirmed that 23% of MPN students do not have access to high-speed internet and a computing device in their home,” explained MEDA Technology Manager Richard Abisla.

MEDA deals daily with these two issues at Plaza Adelante, its neighborhood center. Today, the solution to that challenging issue was brought directly to MPN families.

MEDA Broadband Coach Erica Castillo’s table was abuzz with activity, as she counseled people on deals to obtain low-cost internet at home. Castillo explained that anyone whose child qualifies for free or low-cost lunch in school can partake in a program that is currently six months free and just $9.95 per month thereafter. An added plus: the first 50 people signing up today received a Nexus 7 tablet, generously donated by Google, so MPN families would actually have a personal computing device for their home.

Backpack-5By day’s end, there were 50 Mission residents who had signed up and were booting up their gleaming, new devices.

To deal with the relevancy issue, a cadre of tech volunteers offered to spend their Saturday teaching digital-literacy workshops. Some of these classes started with the basics, such as the fundamentals of using social media. Yes, in 2014.

All participants of the 21 workshops were eligible to enter a raffle to win other Google-donated Nexus 7 tablets. Google also sent a number of volunteers to help Mission families. LinkedIn employees did the same, the tech world banding together for a good cause.

To inspire the crowd, a Latino Career Panel was convened, with power players from the tech industry. Kim-Mai Cutler, a reporter for the popular online site TechCrunch, moderated the discussion with her usual panache. As panelists’ stories were revealed, the crowd realized there was a place at the table for them in the tech world.

Connections were made today–in more ways than one.

Mission Promise Neighborhood Resource Fair
Attendees of today’s event got to see the power of community partnering. After all, it’s not easy making sure that every family succeeds and every student achieves at four of the poorest-performing schools in San Francisco. That’s why MEDA initially rounded up over a score of neighborhood agencies to win this long-term battle, with many of these partners coming out in force today as part three of this back-to-school event.

Some of these nonprofits were tabling, availing financially challenged Mission residents of the resources that can better their lives. Other partners presented workshops on the same subject. It was all about helping people rise up.

Backpack-4-Crowd1“I am glad to know that there is so much available for my family. I never knew there were so many agencies willing to help,” stated Mission resident Lydia as she clasped a grouping of brochures.

It takes a community effort to make a far-reaching program, such as the Mission Promise Neighborhood, a success. It takes partners. It takes everyone in a community feeling they have a stake.

It takes a village–and today that village was called the Mission.

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SONY DSCYou wouldn’t think seafood paella and backpacks have much in common, right? Well, it’s time to think again!

On Tuesday, July 29th, renowned San Francisco eatery Cha Cha Cha is hosting a “Mission Backpack Giveaway Fundraiser & Happy Hour.” The Mission District restaurant has generously offered to donate a portion of the night’s revenue to an important neighborhood cause, as folks indulge in some classic New World cuisine.

What is the cause? To raise needed funds for the Saturday, August 9th, 3-in-1 “Back to School Event” the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) is holding. In December 2012, MEDA received a $30-million federal grant to replicate the successful Harlem Children’s Zone in the Mission District of San Francisco. The goal of MPN is to guide kids on a cradle-to-college-to-career continuum, partnering with 26 organizations that also provide client services. Part of this initiative is making sure schoolchildren have the tools they need to do well in their studies, hence the need for this fundraising event.

“Imagine our delight when several years ago our dedicated and joyful friends from MEDA moved from a block away to our very corner,” declares Cha Cha Cha spokesman, Michael Nolan.  “Our creative symbiosis with this cracker-jack community service agency has only accelerated in recent years and we are honored that MEDA would choose Cha Cha Cha for its Backpack Giveaway fundraising party on July 29th.”

The backpacks are ready–the goal is to be able to fill these 2K backpacks with needed back-to-school items. Many Mission District students come from financially challenged families, meaning the cost of a backpack and school supplies cannot compete with a family trying to pay rent and put food on the table. Such families look forward to this event, as they prepare their children to head back to class 100% primed to achieve.

This August 9th happening will actually include a trio of events: a Backpack Giveawaysupported by the San Francisco Mayor’s Office and Target; MEDA’s third Get Connected!” event, presented by Google and LinkedIn, with tech volunteers teaching Mission residents differing levels of digital literacy; and a Mission Promise Neighborhood Resource Fair, supported by MPN partners who will avail the community of their variegated free services.

MEDA’s Director of Development, Jillian Spindle, is grateful for this community support. She states, “We are grateful to our neighbor, Cha Cha Cha, for supporting the Mission Promise Neighborhood’s 3-in-1 ‘Back to School Event.’ We plan to give out 2,000 backpacks, stuffed with school supplies, to area students—along with lots of resources for families on topics like personal finance, accessing jobs, childcare and early education, and much more. The Mission Promise Neighborhood is 26 partner organizations, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and City of San Francisco agencies coming together to say that it is our collective job to make sure our children and young people are successful in school. We welcome the partnership and support of neighborhood businesses like Cha Cha Cha to help us meet our goals.”

MPN showcases the power of community, epitomized by this fundraising event at Cha Cha Cha on July 29th.

Cha Cha Cha
2327 Mission St. (between 19th & 20th), San Francisco, CA
(415) 824-1502




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(415) 569-2699
2301 Mission Street, Suite 304
San Francisco, CA 94110

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