2018 could have been our final year.

Our grant from the Department of Education had sunsetted and Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) was operating on carryover funds. We didn’t know if we would be here in 2019. We were among 12 Promise Neighborhoods across the country that were eligible for only three available extension grants.

Well, what a difference a year makes!

Our community was successful in winning a two-year, $6 million grant from the Department of Education (DOE) so we now have funding to take our initiative into 2020. Instead of downsizing, we doubled the number of schools and families we are working with in San Francisco’s Mission District and, on top of this, MPN lead agency MEDA is able to use this success to advocate for an increase in the number of Promise Neighborhoods in San Francisco … and across California.

How did we get here? It took a collaborative effort of expert partners.

Our numbers spoke for themselves. Over the six-plus years of our initiative, we used a shared case-management tool to connect 2,744 families with 5,590 different program referrals, ranging from housing and tenants’ rights to job readiness and health care. We were a collaborative of 20 community organizations, aligning our efforts to provide wraparound services to our students and families to work toward common goals. We broke through silos and shared data along the way. Together, we held ourselves accountable to turning the curve on community indicators.

MPN saw the following outcomes in our schools and with our partners:

  • Latino graduation rates increased from 63 percent to 88 percent
  • African American graduation rates increased from 46 percent to 93 percent
  • Ninety-four percent of elementary school families feel a sense belonging at their schools
  • Rate at which students change schools mid-year decreased from 13.9 percent to 7.9 percent
  • Eighty percent of all Latino 4-year-olds in the Mission are now enrolled in preschool
  • Social emotional development scores for 3-year-olds jumped from 24 percent to 82 percent

These outcomes are even more impressive when you take into account the extreme pressures our families are experiencing: unprecedented levels of housing displacement, growing income inequality, all coupled with a national political climate translating to an assault on our community. Our collective work of providing families with coordinated access to mental health services, legal representation, asset building, housing services and more has helped MPN stabilize the Mission by using schools and affordable housing as community anchors.

The U.S. Department of Education grant is an affirmation of the work our partners have done. Our second iteration of MPN is focused on aligning with the City of San Francisco and its School District’s Beacon Initiative, expanding from four to nine schools in the Mission District, increasing our presence at early learning centers, developing parent leaders and reaching out to Family Child Care providers to give their families access to our network of supports. We estimate that we will now be serving approximately 8,000 children and their families in the Mission. With our collective-impact approach, MPN is on pace to have the scale of the solution match the scale of the challenge.

Joining with other Promise Neighborhoods
Other Promise Neighborhoods across the state have seen similar outcomes. Together, the five Promise Neighborhoods in California created a network called CPNN.  The results from the CPNN network, informed the development of a statewide plan to end child poverty. This plan includes a recommendation for the investment by the State of California into a total of 20 Promise Neighborhoods at $5 million per neighborhood, complemented by increased spending on child care, CalWORKS and much more. The plan estimates that the combination of these factors will result in benefits to state and local governments of more than $12 billion annually.  

The plan lays out the seven unique characteristics of Promise Neighborhoods:

  1. Cradle-to-college-to-career continuum to move families out of poverty
  2. Place-based to focus on high-need geographies
  3. Collective impact: collaborate with partners to provide solutions at scale
  4. Align funding streams to achieve shared outcomes
  5. Results-driven, with a focus on population-level results
  6. Equity-focused and explicit in addressing disparities
  7. Community powered to address local needs and build on local strengths

Data sharing, collaboration, accountable to results, good for the economy: Promise Neighborhoods are the embodiment of what we call “good government.” MEDA will be calling for these pilot initiatives to move beyond being simply boutique operations and for them to become the normal way that government delivers services. That’s why MEDA will be taking a busload of community partners and families to Sacramento on Tuesday, Jan. 22, to advocate for this good government. If you would like to join, you can register here, and call Lucia Obregon at (415) 282-3334 ext. 156 to get a seat on the bus (lunch, snacks and child care provided).

One community is not waiting for the State to approve funding for Promise Neighborhoods; instead, it is taking the lead in using its current budget to create Promise Neighborhoods. San Diego County has approved $4 million for a pilot Promise Neighborhood based on the success of its existing Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood. If the pilot is also successful, the plan is to create even more Promise Neighborhoods throughout that county.

Closer to home — and based on the success of San Francisco’s Promise Neighborhood in the Mission District — we believe it’s time for the City and County of San Francisco to begin asking itself if other neighborhoods in the City would benefit from a Promise Neighborhood, particularly during this time of widening income inequality and displacement of working-class families and people of color.

From School Board to Mayor, State Superintendent of Schools to Governor, all the way to the House of Representatives, we are seeing inspiring new leaders take the reins of government. As they highlight the need for a more just society, now is the time for bold equity initiatives based on proven models. Perhaps 2020 will put us on pace to end child poverty.

After all, much can happen in a year!

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“Child Development.” That was the agreed-upon referral goal at the April 13 meeting of Mission Promise Neighborhood partners. That means these partners actively sought such referrals this month.

There were 30 staff from 10 partners who met at Good Samaritan Family Resource Center that day. The aim is to foster a referral network – using Salesforce technology – with the ultimate goal of bettering families’ lives.

This work is being spearheaded by Mission Promise Neighborhood Program Coordinator Leticia Contreras (photo). She acts as a connector to bring together all service partners, reserves the venue, outlines the agenda based on her team’s input and facilitates the meeting, including the data exercise.

Contreras explains her role as follows: “I see my purpose as that of making sure that all partners are on the same page. It’s a streamlining process, with the ultimate goal of bettering Mission Promise Neighborhood families’ lives through collaboration.”

With regard to referrals, Contreras pulls data on a weekly basis to ascertain whether the goals set are being met. Since the meeting, the group has already referred 18 Mission Promise Neighborhood families to early childhood programs provided by organizations in the partnership. True impact.

One family’s impact
To educate community partners on the importance of the Salesforce referral network, Family Success Coach Celina Ramos-Castro, who is based at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, told the story of the bundled services accessed by one Mission Promise Neighborhood family (whose confidentiality will be protected by not giving their name).

Ramos-Castro presented the group data on referrals made by her and other service providers for this family, linking all of the programs successfully accessed across Mission organizations.

Mission Promise Neighborhood partners started working with this family in 2014. The family includes parents and two children, one a 7th-grader and one a 5th-grader.

One of the initial items to be addressed from switching the parents from Individual Taxpayer identification Numbers (ITINs) — used for undocumented workers to file taxes — to their new Social Security Number. The mother’s credit also needed to be rebuilt, which was done via one-on-one financial coaching.

Other services were soon accessed, ranging from mentoring to create a college-going culture in the home, job training, free tax preparation and learning tenants’ rights because of a pending no-fault eviction.

To better language skills, ESL classes were also taken by the parents, who were immigrants.

These comprehensive services, offered by various community nonprofits, have led to family economic success and student achievement. This two-generation approach is followed closely by the Mission Promise Neighborhood initiative as a way to build long-term community capital.

The future
Also at April’s meeting, “Housing” was determined as the word of the month for May. The good news is that partner Causa Justa :: Just Cause, which specializes in tenants’ rights, has agreed for the month of May to accept more Mission Promise Neighborhood families having housing issues, with five referrals already having occurred.

Concludes Contreras, “It’s exciting to see the power of the Salesforce referral tool go from concept to action, leading to impact for our Mission Promise Neighborhood families. This is just the start!”


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

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