The Mission District has served for decades as the vibrant epicenter of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Latino community. The Mission District faces the challenges associated with neighborhoods characterized by poverty and gentrification. The Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), founded in 1973, has become a national model for place-based prenatal-to-career strategies designed to “build Latino prosperity, community ownership, and civic power.” For the people who live in the Mission District, MEDA has been a lifeline, providing access to stable housing, affordable childcare, afterschool programs, mental health support, financial capability coaching, small business loans, and a host of other services.

EdRedesign documented MEDA’s development and impact in this case study, authored by Lynne Sacks and Michelle Sedaca, that highlights the strategic steps that propelled MEDA’s growth into one of the leading examples of how place-based collaboration can change the life trajectories of local residents while maintaining the culture and heritage of the community.

The case aims to help community leaders, policy makers, and practitioners understand the prenatal-to-career infrastructure MEDA has built, the impact it has had, and how to replicate the core practices within different local contexts.

Read the highlights

Read the case

Puntos destacados en Español

Read More
CPNN convening group photo: We had Mission Promise Neighborhood, Klamath River Promise Neighborhood, Hayward Promise Neighborhood, Chula Vista & San Diego Promise Neighborhood, Strive Together, Harlem Children’s Zone/William Julius Wilson Institute, CDSS, and the Ed Redesign Lab at the Harvard School of Education represented.

By Jillian Spindle, MEDA’s Chief Operating Officer

On February 16th, 2023, Mission Promise Neighborhood hosted the California Promise Neighborhood Network (CPNN) at our home in the Mission District of San Francisco, California. We were joined by colleagues, friends and movement builders from the Harlem Children’s Zone- William Julius Wilson Institute, Strive Together, the Ed Redesign Lab at Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).

What is the California Promise Neighborhood Network (CPNN?)

CPNN came together in 2017 to support and grow the work of our federally funded Promise Neighborhoods in California. Today, CPNN includes San Diego & Chula Vista Promise Neighborhoods (led by SBCS), Hayward Promise Neighborhood (led by California State University East Bay), Mission Promise Neighborhood (led by the Mission Economic Development Agency), Corning Promise (led by the Paskenta Tribe of Nomlaki Indians) and Klamath River Promise Neighborhood (led by the Yurok Tribe).

Our work spans across the state of California in diverse communities, and together we have a common purpose- we are bringing community powered leadership and innovative cradle-to-career solutions to improve generational outcomes for children and families.

CPNN working groups meeting to plan data and evaluation strategies.

CPNN brings us together to share best practices and to problem solve in our collective impact work; to advocate for long term funding and sustainability; to share data across our network, and to show the impact Promise Neighborhoods are having across California.

February Convening- Inspiration and Building for the Future

For our February convening, we were thrilled to welcome Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children’s Zone President and Founder of HCZ’s William Julius Wilson Institute, as a keynote speaker whose vision and leadership created the original highly successful cradle-to-career model that inspired the federal program and our local work. 

In a conversation facilitated by Josh Davis of Strive Together, Mr. Canada shared his thoughts on leadership in the field, building the next generation of leaders, and strategies for continuing advocacy, raising resources to ensure the longevity of our local initiatives, and scaling this work nationally.

Josh Davis of Strive Together facilitating a conversation with Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone and the CPNN group.

Reflecting on the day, Mr. Canada noted, “As practitioners of place-based, cradle-to-career work, we are charged with the Herculean responsibility of ensuring successful futures for our young people,” he said. “It is only through the intentional sharing of best practices, like the work CPPN is doing throughout California, that we will create real change for Black and brown communities across this country.”

We set collective goals for our shared work on storytelling, evaluating our impact, and building systems to institutionalize cradle-to-career work at the state level. 

MEDA welcomed partners to celebrate Mission Promise Neighborhood’s ten year anniversary together at César Chávez Elementary School, and participated in a neighborhood tour where we shared some of our successful strategies from housing, to asset building, and our ‘Promotoras’ model. 

Geoffrey Canada speaks with Genesis Ulloa, MPN participant and young local poet who shared her poem at the event.

Klamath River Promise Neighborhood is the newest Promise Neighborhood in California, and CPNN has the goal of sharing learnings and best practices among its members. Josh Norris, Klamath River Promise Neighborhood Director noted their team’s experience.

“As the first exposure to the CPNN, for most of the new Klamath Promise Neighborhood team, we were inspired by the power of collective impact (led by those closest to the issues) in finding solutions we assumed were too large (or didn’t fit) in the scope of education. For example, solutions for topics such as affordable housing or premature births. We came away with a collective sense of purpose. “ 

For the first time, four CPNN members— Hayward, Chula Vista, Corning and Mission Promise- are sustaining the work through state funding from CDSS, and we are excited to partner as we bring this successful federal model to the State of California. In partnership with GRACE and the End Child Poverty in California coalition, we are committed to ensuring that many more communities in California that can benefit from Promise Neighborhoods and cradle-to-career initiatives have the resources to do so. 

To this end, we were thrilled to share a message at our MPN 10 year celebration from Assembly Member Mia Bonta announcing the launch of It Takes a Village (AB 1321), which will accomplish this goal.

Mission Promise Neighborhood and MEDA thanks our colleagues, friends, partners, and fellow movement builders who are on this journey with us, and who believe that together we can ensure that every child and family can thrive.

Read More

This month we were proud to celebrate our 10th anniversary as a Promise Neighborhood. Mission Promise Neighborhood provides a network of support services to help families achieve economic stability and gives them the tools to support their children’s academic achievement, creating a brighter future for the whole Mission community. The MPN vision includes a future where every child excels and every family succeeds. Students enter school ready for success, and graduate from high school prepared for college and career. The Mission District thrives as a healthy and safe community providing families and their children the opportunity to prosper economically and to call San Francisco their permanent home.

We are one of the few Promise Neighborhoods in the country to harness city, state, and philanthropic funds to make up for the sunsetting of our original 5-year federal grant in 2012 (Promise Neighborhood grants sunset after five years). 

How have we done this? 

We have done so by building trust with students and families, as well as setting systems in place with 15 partner agencies, nine neighborhood schools, and City departments to provide comprehensive services along the cradle-to-career continuum to over 32,000 people.

During our ten years we have seen dramatic increases in kinder-readiness and graduation rates for Mission District children. When the pandemic hit, government and philanthropic organizations relied on our infrastructure to rapidly distribute income, housing, and health resources to those in need. We believe that this type of cross-sector approach is the future of government – it’s collaborative, accountable for results, and community-centered. That’s why we continue to push for more funding for Promise Neighborhoods in state and federal budgets.

We celebrated a decade of support with dozens of community members, agency partners and elected officials at one of our partner sites, Cesar Chavez Elementary. At the event we provided a team comprised of a MEDA Family Success Coach, a mental health consultant from Instituto Familiar de la Raza, and an after school provider – Jamestown, to work with school leadership to provide wraparound supports to students and their families. 

Thank you to our speakers: MPN parent María Reyes and student poet Genesis Ulloa, who delivered a moving poem about how this program has impacted her life in both English and Spanish, Geoffrey Canada from Harlem Children’s Zone, Board Supervisor Myrna Melgar, Catalina Rico from San Francisco Unified School District, Nelly Sapinski of Jamestown Community Center, Rosaura Diaz of Felton Institute, Josh Davis of StriveTogether.

All Promise Neighborhoods are modeled after the template set by Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone. Mr. Canada spoke to the success of our Promise Neighborhood in this historical context, and noted the important role Mission Promise Neighborhood plays as part of the national movement for Promise Neighborhoods moving forward. Supervisor Myrna Melgar spoke about how Mission Promise Neighborhood provides an example for the rest of San Francisco for involving the community in schools and improving school performance. Josh Davis read a statement from Assemblymember Mia Bonta about her commitment to passing the ‘It Takes A Village’ Act to fund more Promise Neighborhoods. Promise Neighborhoods are about intentionally identifying our neighbors most in need, and doing everything we can as a community to work together to address that need. It really does take a village, and we will continue to be here providing direct services until our vision is achieved.

Read More

In December 2012, MEDA worked with city agencies and 25 neighborhood partners to replicate New York’s successful Harlem Children’s Zone in the Mission District of San Francisco. The goal of the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) is to guide students on a cradle-to-college-to-career continuum, while helping their families achieve economic success.

Director, Mission Promise Neighborhood Richard Raya (photo, lower right) is now spearheading this innovative initiative.

What background do you bring to leading the Mission Promise Neighborhood?
I’m a third-generation Bay Area native who grew up in one of California’s largest Section 8 housing complexes. After dropping out of my predominantly Latino high school, I went to community college, then transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, where I earned a bachelor’s in English and a master’s in Public Policy. I dedicated my life to helping transform lives the way my life was transformed. The Promise Neighborhood initiative is the embodiment of why I went to college: to help low-income families and communities of color maximize their extraordinary capacity to survive and thrive.

Over the past two decades, I’ve worked with elected officials, administrators and community leaders on data-driven, interagency collaboratives focused on improving program results in low-income communities, as well as on equitable development efforts resulting in affordable housing, below-market retail space and local-hire goals. My positions included director of administrative services for the Alameda County Public Health Department, executive director of Youth Radio and chief of staff for an Oakland city councilmember.

What is the greatest challenge of the Mission Promise Neighborhood?
The greatest challenge of the Mission Promise Neighborhood is that we are trying to solve a problem that no single organization can solve on its own — the challenge of getting every kid in the neighborhood to graduate prepared for college or career. Our collective impact approach of working with partners to provide wraparound services requires a great deal of trust between partner organizations, data sharing, coordination and communication. An additional challenge is that we’re doing all of this while also attempting to prevent these students from being displaced by the massive economic forces reshaping the face of San Francisco, and national policies threatening some of our immigrant families. Lastly, our initial federal grant is in its sunset phase; although we will be applying for an extension grant when it is released in the next few months, this award is not guaranteed. Our challenges are many, but we have the team, partners and infrastructure to meet these challenges.

What are the greatest successes of the Mission Promise Neighborhood to date?
A lot of people say they are working on collective impact, but few are pulling it off. The partners of the Mission Promise Neighborhood are pulling it off — collaborating and building relationships across silos and service system barriers, and using a common database to share information and provide wraparound services. In addition, MPN is also working with families to help them develop the assets to control their destinies, and preserving and building affordable housing to keep families in place and stabilize our community.

The high school graduation results are in: Rates increased dramatically for Latino and African American students. Over the five years of the MPN partnership, Latino graduation rates increased from 62 percent to 88 percent at John O’Connell High School, and African American graduation rates went from 46 percent to 93 percent.

It’s always going to be difficult to take direct credit for outcomes in a collective impact approach. The greatest success may be the relationships built among providers — the schools, the community agencies — and the buy-in to use a common referral system and share data.

MPN created a referral tool for partners to use to provide wraparound services to students and their families. After 2.5 years of collecting referral data (January 2014-August 2017), the MPN partners generated 4,389 referrals and impacted 2,303 individual families. (Read data brief.)

MPN has also built an awesome team. Our family success coaches have gotten to know students, families and school principals, and are responsible for making the referrals to community partners. Combined with our administrative and evaluation staff, this forms the backbone of the collective impact work. I’ve heard it said that with the right team you can accomplish anything. I feel that way with this team.

What is your vision for Mission Promise Neighborhood for 2018 and beyond?
The Mission District is one of the greatest neighborhoods in San Francisco, which itself is one of the greatest cities in the world. It’s an honor for San Francisco to host a flagship initiative such as a Promise Neighborhood. San Francisco has an opportunity now to decide what the next version of its Promise Neighborhood will look like. My vision is that we will double down on the collective impact infrastructure built by MPN, build on the relationships developed with partners, and expand services to more students and their families. This vision is not mine alone; it was developed by the MPN partners in a sustainability planning session last summer. Our vision is that we will continue sharing data across agencies as a means to make program decisions, while holding ourselves accountable to measured results, all framed by the agreement that we are responsible for each other’s children. In addition, we will strive to be guided by authentic community voice, and strengthen the ties of MPN to our broader MEDA asset building, affordable housing and parent leadership work. It’s an exciting time.

In my first four weeks, I’ve met dozens of partners, and I’ve visited all four of our Promise Neighborhood campuses: John O’Connell High School, Everett Middle School, and Bryant and César Chávez elementary schools. Our schools are the centers of our community, the fulcrum of our collaboration and the best places to meet our young people and their families. There is a lot that happens before children even enter school, so I’ve also toured the Felton Family Development Center, one of our early learning partners. This outreach will continue throughout the next few months, culminating in a report this spring sharing the considerable accomplishments of our collaborative over the past years, and where we hope to go from here, together. Please email if you’d like to arrange a meeting with me.

There is so much going on in a Promise Neighborhood, so many moving parts, that communication is key. Our team will be redoubling our efforts in using this blog to provide you with regular updates on the great work that our schools and partners are doing.


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

As the aim of the Mission Promise Neighborhood is family economic success translating to student achievement, the 20+ partner agencies are always collaborating to devise ways to best serve families. This can mean bringing services directly into the quartet of Mission schools served by the initiative.

One idea for this fall was to tackle immigration issues head-on. This meant La Raza Centro Legal — the Mission Promise Neighborhood’s trusted legal partner — was chosen to lead immigration “mythbuster” information sessions. This community-based organization has a mission to “empower Latino, immigrant and low-income communities of San Francisco to advocate for their civil and human rights.” An advantage of having La Raza Centro Legal take part is that families are given the opportunity to sign up for consultations right on the spot and can have their questions answered. With 85 percent of respondents claiming they were foreign born when asked during the Spring 2016 Mission Promise Neighborhood survey, the need for such information sessions is great.

“We know it’s really important to combat the misinformation in the community. We especially don’t want our families to be taken advantage of based on their fear. We don’t want them going to notarios, who charge fees and may not be able to provide our families the services they need,” explains Mission Promise Neighborhood Family Success Coach Manager Amelia M. Martínez C.

Starting a few weeks back through mid-November, the immigration workshops will be held at the schools, at times convenient for parents’ schedules.

Martínez concludes, “This is another example of the the quick response we bring to the community as needs arise. That’s an integral piece of the work of the Mission Promise Neighborhood.”


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


Most of us have fond memories of reading in the library as a youngster, and with February designated as “National Library Lovers’ Month,” this is the perfect time to reflect on the importance of reading in everyone’s lives. “National Library Lovers’ Month” is a celebration of school, public and private libraries of all types.

At Bryant Elementary School — one of two elementary schools in the Mission Promise Neighborhood — Family Success Coach Dannhae Herrera-Wilson (photo, center) knows that not all Mission Promise Neighborhood families have the tools to foster reading in the home.

“It’s vital that parents take an active role by reading to their children at a young age. This creates a love of books, and simultaneously builds language skills. This is especially important for children from immigrant families, of which there are many in the Mission Promise Neighborhood,” explains Herrera-Wilson.

As part of “National Library Lovers’ Month,” Herrera-Wilson recently brought a group of parents to the San Francisco Main Library.

None of the parents had ever set foot in this monumental building near City Hall at the Civic Center — or any library at all. With a collection of over 3.5 million books, this place can seem daunting. That’s why Herrera-Wilson set up the excursion, gave a tour and ensured parents obtained library cards.

AhmedTour participants included Safa, a native of Yemen, a country she explained  has no libraries for children. Safa applied for a library card, as did her two children. The oldest, her son Ahmed (pictured with his new library card), attends Bryant Elementary School. Safa is looking to start ESL classes at City College.

MaryRose, originally from the Philippines, was also in attendance. MaryRose’s daughter, an ardent reader named Aubry, attends Bryant Elementary. The youngest daughter, 4-year-old Nikki, is looking to start Transitional Kindergarten. “This is a great place. Thank you for bringing us here!” stated MaryRose.

Another parent taken to the library was Luis, originally from Guatemala. The youngest of six children, Luis had only made it as far as third grade because to needed to work the land as a way to help his family survive. Luis’ daughter attends Bryant Elementary. He explained why he took this trip as follows: “I want to get my library card so that I can get books in Spanish and read to my daughter, and she can read books in English to me. I feel like I am learning, just like her. I plan to return with my two children and make it a family experience.”

Herrera-Wilson also made sure to avail the parents of the venue’s growing eLibrary, especially eLearning materials that can assist students. This ties into Making Connections, a digital literacy course for parents that teaches how to use myON, an online reading platform for students. Last fall, the Mission Promise Neighborhood was asked to partner with SFUSD to lead the Making Connections program. Ana Avilez, a mother to two young children of her own, now spearheads this initiative, bridging the eLearning divide for Mission Promise Neighborhood families. Ana builds courses for parents and goes directly into schools to provide access to supplementary tools for the home, so that all students can continue building their literary skills.

Such work is vital, with the statistics showcasing the need for families. 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.

Today’s excursion was a step in the right direction, Herrera-Wilson acting as a connector to resources, as she does every day. As with any movement, those initial steps can lead to much bigger things, especially as participants go back in the community and tell of their experience.

Summing up why this outing was so important to Mission Promise Neighborhood families, Herrera-Wilson, a first-generation immigrant from Nicaragua, stated, “My desire to advocate for, empower and work with low-income families, immigrant families and multicultural families is fueled by my strong conviction that access to education is a human right regardless of race, or economic or legal status. I particularly enjoy working with women and children because I witness their vulnerability and at the same time recognize their potential, which can be beyond their imagination.”


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


An initial look at John O’Connell High School, nestled in the heart of San Francisco’s vibrant Mission District, reveals an inviting atmosphere and evidence of plenty of forward-thinking education ideas being put into play for its over 400 students. This innovative school, under the auspices of Principal Mark Alvarado, is the sole high school for the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN), a federal initiative to help families succeed so that students achieve.

As an MPN school, O’Connell gets many benefits. These include having a community school coordinator, a family success coach acting as a connector to services, Wellness Center staff and a quality after-school program.

Then there are school partnerships. O’Connell is meeting student needs because of internal expertise and the succor of a community of dedicated partners: Compass Education Group; CUESA Schoolyard to Market; FACES for the Future; Generation Citizen; JCYC Upward Bound; JVS (Jewish Vocational Services); the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA); Mission Graduates; Tech21
; UCSF EAOP; Urban Services YMCA; Youth Arts Exchange; and Youth Speaks.

These are the four primary ways student needs at being met:

Safe and supportive environment
O’Connell is a small community school. Its 6:1 student-to-staff ratio demonstrates a commitment to developing strong relationships with students and the adult community. Teachers stay with students for two academic years at a time to personalize learning.

High expectations for students
O’Connell’s student learning outcomes are clearly defined. Students are also encouraged to pursue AP and honors courses, plus concurrent enrollment in City College of San Francisco. O’Connell’s Spanish Immersion program develops high levels of English and Spanish proficiency and literacy, academic competency and multicultural understanding.

Academic excellence
O’Connell’s curriculum prepares students for the future. Students learn through integrated curriculum, project-based learning and group work. Juniors and seniors solve real-world problems through the lab of their choice: Health Behavioral Sciences; Environmental Technology; Building, Construction and Trades; or Culinary Entrepreneurship.

College and career readiness
Students engage in college and career readiness throughout the day. Teachers collaborate with industry professionals in the classroom. Students receive direct support and opportunities from student success coaches, college and career counselors, and Career Technical Education teachers.

Jamie A., a senior at O’Connell, knows she has been prepared for a bright future. She describes her typical day as follows:

“I spend two hours per day in my Culinary Entrepreneurship Lab. I’m an advisor in that, too, so I help with prom and dances, things like that, and the rest of my day is spent in chemistry, statistics, English … the usual classes. During lunch, I go to clubs: Tuesday is Gay-Straight Alliance; Thursday is the Mission Graduates Latino Club, and sometimes I meet with the Book Lovers.

“I check in with my two mentors each week. One is the Young Life area director. The other is a software engineer at Google who I met through Girls Who Code, which I did because the job council at O’Connell got me an internship at Facebook, so I got really interested in engineering. I’m applying to college now and hoping to go to UC Irvine because it’s the only UC with a Computer Science School; otherwise, I’ll probably go to a program at a smaller private school. Yeah, I guess I do a lot!”

A typical day … at a school that is anything but typical. That’s John O’Connell.

Contact information:
John O’Connell High School, 2355 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94110.


Rebeca Flores, Parent Liaison, Room 103
(415) 695-5470 ext. 1004
Email Rebeca.


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-Streetside Stories at Everett-Blog 120815

Imagine being new to this country … as an 11-year-old.  You need to learn the language. You need the learn the culture. You need to just learn, period. To make this process interactive and fun, Streetside Stories and classroom teachers have partnered up to get creative.

On Tuesday at Everett Middle School, 6th-graders who are newcomers to the U.S. were excitedly working on transforming  narratives into digital form as a science project in Ms. Bautista’s English Language Development (ELD) Science class. A six week, step-by-step process fosters the creation of the final product: a personalized ebook titled “How Do We Survive in our World?” Students must write a narrative, design a storyboard, create images, record voiceovers and edit the final cut.

Ms. Bautista co-developed the curriculum with Streetside Stories’ Van Nguyen-Stone (photo, top). Students develop literacy and arts skills, and begin to close the digital divide. For more than a decade, Nguyen-Stone’s work has encompassed independent filmmaking, complemented by teaching video production for nonprofit organizations.

This innovative duo designed a true learning experience. For example, in the creation of their author page, the students learned a few of the eight parts of speech, as they were asked to fill in the blanks for such questions as “I would describe myself as (adjective),” “I like to (verb)” and “(Noun) inspires me.”

Through their collaboration they also cultivate young people’s voices, using compelling storytelling that values diversity and builds community. Streetside Stories, a valued Mission Promise Neighborhood partner, is up to this challenge and has been succeeding.

A recent National Endowment for the Arts study found that African American, Latino and low-income youth receive significantly less arts education than white and higher-income youth. Streetside Stories is working to close this gap. Their core programs comprise innovative arts workshops that improve literacy via the integration of tech. The programs are aligned with state Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) standards per the California State Board of Education, as developed by the Instructional Quality Commission.

Streetside Stories’ programs are also aligned to Common Core language arts standards for the state of California. While Common Core guides what students need to know and be able to do, the curriculum defines how students will learn it and is designed by school districts and teachers.

Students in Ms. Bautista’s class will share their final work with peers, families and community members on December 17th. At this event, Everett’s first iBook library of student’s ebooks will be displayed. The middle schoolers will read from their ebooks and describe their creative process via a Q & A session.

MPN-Laura Andersen at Everett 120815Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) Education Manager Laura Andersen (photo, left) was on hand today to watch this project come to life. A former kindergarten teacher, Andersen enjoyed helping students practice their oral language skills and think through their ebook content.

Explaining the importance of today’s event, Andersen highlighted the teacher collaboration: “Teaching ELD classes can be challenging; usually there is one fluent English-speaking teacher and twenty students who are trying to learn the language. This model leverages co-teaching to integrate technology with language skills, creativity and science to motivate students. These MPN students are in great hands with Ms. Bautista and Streetside Stories.”

Read More

Shared Database-Blog

“The price of light is less than the cost of darkness.”
–Arthur C. Nielsen, market researcher and founder of ACNielsen

The need and challenge
Michelle Reiss-Top (photo, top right) definitely understands the aforementioned quote about data. MEDA’s technology and data systems manager was tasked with implementing and optimizing Salesforce internally–a Herculean task by itself. Imagine then being asked to do so for a cadre of neighborhood partners.

Good thing Reiss-Top showcases over 12 years experience implementing systems and making processes more efficient, user friendly and economical. This is complemented by her experience in the nonprofit and human services arena, with a focus on bringing innovative technology to the service providers of San Francisco’s Mission District.

The latest challenge for the Salesforce expert was to bridge the data-collection gap among service providers of the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN), a citywide community partnership with the goal of ensuring that every Mission District family is economically prosperous, and that every child succeeds in school and graduates from college. MEDA serves as lead agency of this federal initiative.

Reiss-Top was aware that there was no cookie-cutter application for data sharing among 11 MPN partners. MEDA Evaluator Elisa Baeza had the laborious assignment of standardizing partner data she collected. These data were in Excel files, but no style guide had ever been created, leading to fellow MEDA Evaluator Severin Saenz having to always clean up files for consistency (e.g., dates being entered in a consistent manner). The information would then be sent to the U.S. Department of Education, with the biggest drawback being that partners would never see what other organizations were doing and which clients they were jointly serving.

The outcome
The good news is that with the completion of this intensive, four-month project, consistent data collection has become a reality.

The other good news is that there are now important insights provided by these partner data that have been collected. Take the case of MPN partner Mission Graduates, which assists high schoolers in being college ready via mentorships. The organization can now see if the student’s parents have or have not accessed other neighborhood services relating to family economic success.

On a grand scale, information can now be garnered on the status of approximately 600 MPN families. The MPN team can now also know how many clients are being served by multiple agencies, plus how much time these families are spending accessing various services. Later, there will be matching of these data with students’ school outcomes. There are built-in security measures to protect client confidentiality.

There had some initial forays into the world of data sharing among partners. Explains Reiss-Top of the lessons learned from these attempts: “The MEDA evaluation team learned some valuable lessons. The first thing we did was develop a questionnaire for partners to learn the data-collecting reality at each organization. We asked what’s missing and what would add value. This was imperative.”

Each partner’s data coordinator receives training at MEDA. The initial training was held last Thursday in Plaza Adelante’s computer lab. Training topics include: avoiding duplicate records; quickly replicating service records; a holistic view of a household’s services and needs; reports, dashboards and ways to request more analysis and support.

As a reference tool, Reiss-Top has created a comprehensive, 44-page manual. There will later be a one-on-one training from a MEDA evaluation team member at the partner’s office, using that organization’s data.

“MPN’s hope is that each organization will find synergy with a number of partners. We have 100 community member licenses for partner users of different types. A ‘light’ user, like an executive director, can access reports. A program manager can quickly communicate with the community to share resources or expertise. This is a powerful tool. The partners at our first demo clapped when they saw their services and clients on a dashboard!” concludes an enthusiastic Reiss-Top.

Read More

Support for Families-BlogOn a nondescript stretch of Mission Street—straddling the trendier Mission, Castro and SoMa districts—is the location of the offices of Support for Families of Children with Disabilities (SFF). While this area showcases little of the historic charm for which San Francisco is renowned, inside 1663 Mission, an elevator ride away on the seventh floor, some history of a different sort is being made daily.

A pioneering concept of a community of support is being built by SFF–client by client–with families helping each other become effective advocates for their children with special needs.

JoAnna Van Brusselen (photo right), came to SFF as a client a few years back, later being groomed to work at this nonprofit that is a vital partner of the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN). JoAnna’s background in social services in the Mission made her a natural fit. Success has definitely been achieved over the past two years, with 45 Spanish-speaking clients turned mentors under JoAnna’s auspices.

How do clients turn into mentors? It’s actually an integral facet of SFF’s model: a new client comes to the nonprofit to obtain information and education about their child’s special needs and enlist support for themselves; as they learn and gain experience, many want to “pay it forward” by becoming a mentor to other parents new to the program. More than 130 parents and family members have completed SFF’s comprehensive training to become “Parent Mentors.”

Take the case of Gloria Diaz Galicia (photo left), a doting mother of three living in San Francisco’s Excelsior District, who came through the welcoming doors of SFF two years ago when her oldest son, then five, was diagnosed as having language delays. Gloria knew that her husband’s father had not spoken until he was seven years of age, so there was a possible genetic element; however, the root of the problem was secondary to immediately bettering her son’s academic experience.

Gloria needed help. Help on how to advocate for her son. Help in learning how to use the correct terms to garner that assistance for her child.

After seeking such help in various locales, with little success, a friend counseled Gloria to come to SFF.

That’s where JoAnna stepped in. She explains, “At Support for Families, we lend support. The staff works to help the parent learn how to stand up for their child’s rights.”

These rights are defined under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law that ensures access to vital educational services for children with disabilities. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to the millions of infants, toddlers, children and youths with disabilities and special needs.

Once Gloria was taught how to speak on behalf of her son, becoming his staunchest advocate, the youngster started to do better in school. He is now in the second grade and is on an upward trajectory.

The need for SFF remains for Gloria, as her youngest son was recently determined to also having language delays. This diagnosis was made when the youngster participated in an Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) screening, which Support for Families conducts at the Mission Neighborhood Health Center (MNHC), another MPN partner.

While JoAnna is gladly prepared to offer Gloria assistance again, the latter is starting at a much better point, with knowledge of how to deal with the issues in front of her.

Sums up an enthusiastic Gloria, “Support for Families has been amazing. They truly help parents who don’t know their children’s rights. The ‘Parent Mentor Program’ provides support on both sides. It continues to help me.”

SFF continues to build a community of support—one that has kept growing day by day over the past 32 years. It’s history in the making.









Read More



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

Get the latest news and information on
what’s happening in your neighborhood.