“For all families, health starts with food on the table and a roof over our heads. It warms our hearts to see the smiles on the faces of these families in their new and secure homes,” says Executive Director Brenda Storey of Mission Neighborhood Health Center (MNHC). She was speaking in general about Mission Promise Neighborhood families, and specifically of the families of siblings Jazmin and Marcos Florian. MNHC has served the Mission’s Latino community for almost five decades and is a valued Mission Promise Neighborhood partner.

Jazmin Florian, spouse Antonio Chunux and their two children (photo, left) are now in a below-market-rate (BMR) apartment rental at Abaca on Third Street in Dogpatch, while Marcos Florian and wife Jessica Alvarez (photo, right) found affordable housing at Five 88 in Mission Bay. Both are brand-new developments featuring many amenities.

To make affordable housing a reality, it took determination by the families and a partnership between MNHC and MEDA, the latter the lead agency of the Mission Promise Neighborhood.

MNHC knows that a lack of safe, secure and quality housing can lead to major health issues.

Chronic Disease Coordinator Iran Pont explains the issue as follows: “Studies show that if you are under stress because you don’t have a home, then major health issues can occur. if you don’t have the roots of your home established, you can’t build anything else.”

That’s why MNHC’s Storey reached out to MEDA to provide affordable-housing workshops at her clinic. This formal request occurred during one of Mission Promise Neighborhood’s monthly referral network meetings, where the 20+ partner organizations share information and best practices around direct services.

Last December, Jazmin Florian attended the first workshop at MNHC, with MEDA Community Planning Manager Dairo Romero availing Latino families of the affordable-housing opportunities in San Francisco’s pipeline, plus how to get rental ready so that eligibility requirements can be met once you win the housing lottery. At this meeting, a distressed Jazmin shared with the group that her entire family was in the throes of an owner move-in eviction from their Bayview neighborhood home — a home where her family of four lived in one unit, and her brother and his spouse lived in the other flat.

Jazmin was made aware of how San Francisco’s Displaced Tenant Housing Preference (DTHP) for evicted residents could help her family win the lottery and find a new affordable home in the form of a BMR rental. So she and sister-in-law Jessica filled out the necessary DTHP paperwork. They then applied for BMR rentals at multiple properties.

Jazmin won three lotteries, but was initially denied because her family had not filed for the 2015 tax year. MEDA helped appeal Jazmin’s case with the developer, plus the MEDA tax team prepared the taxes for free. Jazmin, Antonio and their children moved into Abaca in July. Additionally, during the process of obtaining a BMR rental, Jazmin decided to become an affordable-housing advocate, even providing Board of Supervisors’ public testimony in favor of MEDA’s 1296 Shotwell affordable-housing development for seniors.

Jessica was a victor of five lotteries, but was denied at one project because of too high a household income (every development has its own minimum and maximum income requirements.) Their case for Five 88 was closed, but later reopened by Romero.

Romero states, “Our Latinos families who win the lottery need support throughout the leasing process because some developers do not offer bilingual staff. Plus, families don’t always understand what additional documents are being requested by the developers.”

Jessica was also counseled by Family Success Coach Yadira Diaz at Cesar Chavez Elementary — a Mission Promise Neighborhood school — to apply for a Hamilton Families housing subsidy that covered the required first month’s rent and security deposit. Marcos and Jessica moved into Five 88 at the end of June.

“MNHC is excited and eager to continue our collaboration with MEDA, with the goal of having many more Mission Promise Neighborhood families find their secure home in San Francisco,” concludes Storey.


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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With an eye toward the exciting start of school, 110 families attended Mission Promise Neighborhood’s third annual Education Forum at the Mission Campus of City College on July 29. The theme was ”Putting Success in a Backpack,” but the event offered so much more. (See photos.)

The majority of students were from pre-K to 8th grade, with families having been made aware of the day’s agenda from fliers, partner agencies or other family members.

Mission Promise Neighborhood Associate Director Liz Cortez welcomed attendees, sharing her own inspiring story that showcases the importance of parents taking an active role in their child’s education. Cortez explained how her own parents lent such support, despite their being newcomers not cognizant of how to get into college in this country. Such support translated to Cortez earning her degree.

Next up was a panel conversation moderated by Amelia M. Martínez-Bankhead, a Mission Graduates board member. Five parents provided information about the upcoming workshops, telling of their experiences applying for affordable housing, getting family finances in order, promoting reading at home or creating a college-going culture at home. Their words definitely resonated with the crowd for their attending following workshops; Abriendo Puertas; Literacy Champions; How to Pay for College; Family Financial Health; Overcoming English Language Barriers in Schools, Housing Lottery Readiness; and Reclassification. The latter proved popular, with Mission Graduates and Familias Liderando la Educación Exitosa (FLEE) leading education around this reclassification campaign.

A survey was handed out as a way to better gauge parents’ understanding of Latino reclassification issues for English Language Learners. There were 76 surveys completed, and parents will now be invited to attend groups at Mission Promise Neighborhood schools, plus become active participants in the reclassification campaign.

To keep six- to 13-year-olds engaged and learning while parents attended workshops, a trio of Mission organizations were on hand. The Mission YMCA taught STEM via intriguing science experiments. Instituto Familiar de la Raza offered drumming, the joyous sounds filling the campus’ courtyard. Project Commotion  featured jump roping, with athleticism showcased by numerous youngsters.

Once parents exited their workshops, it was time for the distribution of backpacks generously donated by the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services (MONS). These sturdy backpacks contained everything from notebooks to coloring pens. A raffle was then held for backpacks teeming with even more much-needed items for the school year, with 10 delighted families having their numbers picked.

Additionally, there were raffles for a pair of $20 gift cards from Mateo’s Taqueria, located on Mission Street.

To fostering reading in the community, 280 Spanish- and English-language K-12 books were doled out by the San Francisco Public Library. Volunteers from the library also handed out Talk, Read, Sing bags for infants and toddlers.

For a touch of art, MONS also divvied up complimentary museum passes to a number of San Francisco venues.

To strengthen families, there were 12 resource tables offering materials and free services. Topics ranged from affordable housing and low-cost internet to after-school programs for children and literacy information. Parents walked away with information, pamphlets … and the tools they needed to succeed.

By the time the five-hour Education Forum 2017 came to a close, families were definitely ready for the 2018-2019 school year. Let’s make it a great one!


The Mission Promise Neighborhood acknowledges the partners, volunteers and community members that made the Education Forum 2017 a success. Thank you to Mission Graduates, MEDA, Mission Neighborhood Centers, SFUSD-Early Education Department, Tandem, Partners in Early Learning, Project Commotion, Instituto Familiar de la Raza, Mission-YMCA, La Raza Centro Legal, Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, AT&T, ScholarMatch and Innovate Public Schools.


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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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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When Mission Promise Neighborhood lead agency MEDA was looking for honorees for its ¡VIVA MEDA! 43rd Anniversary Celebration slated for October 12, Executive Director Sam Ruiz of Mission Neighborhood Centers (MNC) immediately came to mind. MNC’s numbers for 2015-2016 are quite impressive, with 54 infants and toddlers receiving Early Head Start and 387 preschool children receiving Head Start services throughout the community-based organization’s 11 sites in San Francisco. Ruiz showcases the vision and leadership needed to drive home the equity agenda in San Francisco, thereby contributing to the success of the Mission Promise Neighborhood partnership.

That vision has most recently translated to Centro de Alegría, a Spanish bilingual preschool center located at 1245 Alabama Street. The former St. Peter’s convent – vacant for two decades — was converted into a brand-new preschool that opened this month, answering the prayers of many Mission parents. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, a now-retired nun who had resided at the convent showed up for the celebration, expressing her joy that the church’s mission to serve children was now being fulfilled by Centro de Alegría.

The idea was to centralize MNC’s critical early care and education and social services for low-income families. MNC now offers three classrooms to serve 88 neighborhood children: two double session part days for 68 children; and a third classroom that will support 20 children for the full day with a tuition/subsidized combination strategy. Centro de Alegría consolidates two former MNC locations, one on Precita Avenue and the other at Harrison and 24th streets.

Centro de Alegría, which means Joy Center, will even house staff offices, rooms for confidential case management and ample outdoor space designed to utilize the natural world as a learning tool.

“Centro de Alegría was a two-year labor of love. The entire first floor of the convent had to be gutted. The result is a state-of-the-art facility for our familias — about 85 percent immigrants seeking a better life,” explains MNC Division Director of Children’s Services Dolores Terrazas. MNC kept the chapel for the priests, now next-door neighbors.

Centro de Alegría was made possible by a variety of funders, including the Office of Head Start Region IX, Low Income Investment Fund, Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, the Herbst Foundation, Tides Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, the Mimi and Peter Haas Family Fund, Dignity Health and CPMC/Sutter Health.

These funders lent their support because they knew of the major need for such a comprehensive center in the Mission, and that MNC has a proven track record of almost six decades of strengthening families. Liz Cortez, Mission Promise Neighborhood Early Learning Manager states, “There is an unmet need for services in our community, this is the difference between the amount of children that would qualify for subsidized care and the actual capacity in the community to serve these children.” In 2012, for example, there were 629 infants and toddlers that qualified for subsidized care but there was no capacity to serve them. Currently, the SF3C or city-wide centralized eligibility list for families that qualify for a subsidy shows 350 children ages 0-5 waiting for early care and education services in the Mission.

MNC’s goal is that Centro de Alegría will provide the means to ensuring that children from habitually under-resourced communities enter kindergarten on a level playing field with kids from more affluent neighborhoods. Employing the two-generation approach that is an integral piece of the work model of the Mission Promise Neighborhood, the new preschool will offer family resources running the gamut from computer classes to an on-site therapist.

“Our families are looking for an environment that’s culturally and linguistically appropriate. Centro de Alegría is that place,” states an exuberant Terrazas.

Mission Promise Neighborhood Early Learning Manager Liz Cortez knows of the need for such early care and education services. Cortez explains, “MNC has been growing their programs to meet the needs of families with young children. For example, the MNC Early Head Start program that serves infants and toddlers and their families has grown from three slots in 2006 to 66 slots in 2016. This is a 2,100-percent growth rate in the last 10 years. Amazing.”

This kind of growth in services for families with young children could not have happened without the committed leadership of MNC staff and the funders that support this work. Families agree that this is a place that supports them to achieve their dreams: In a 2015 exit survey of families served, 99 percent reported satisfaction with MNC programs and services.

Now that’s a valuable community asset!


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 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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Emigrating from Mexico at the young age of 15 gives Magali Valdez-Robles empathy for her 24 students at Felton’s Family Developmental Center (FDC), a Mission Promise Neighborhood partner. Valdez-Robles came to the U.S. to study English – a need for most of the 4- and 5-year-olds in her dual-language preschool classroom primarily serving Latino children.

This is a job at which the social advocate thrives, and why she was honored last night with a “Preschool for All Excellence in Teaching Award” from First 5 SF. This well-deserved accolade arose from a nomination by the Leadership team at Felton. (Watch video.)

Speaking of her “Preschool for All Excellence in Teaching Award,” Valdez-Robles (photo, right) humbly exclaims, ”I wasn’t expecting this award. I always tell my supervisor that I may not be the best teacher, but I really care if my students and families succeed. There are many great teachers out there, so this is an honor.”

Felton Preschool Program Supervisor Phyllis Hogan knows of the caliber of Valdez-Robles’ work, stating “Magali Valdez Robles is committed to providing a classroom environment that views all children through the lens as learners who are competent, skillful and intelligent. Magali values and respects all childrens’ home language and culture. The Bumble Bee classroom is one of our dual-language classrooms at the Family Developmental Center, where you will see and hear this in action.  Magali  is committed to support kindergarten readiness for our preschoolers. As a ‘Teacher of Excellence,’ Magali aims to ensure children have the skills and social emotional readiness for kindergarten.”

Valdez-Robles is a model teacher with one goal: to make sure every child under her auspices is kindergarten ready. Located in the Mission District and serving over 85 percent of the Latino community, Felton’s FDC is one of San Francisco’s largest  inclusive early care and education program serving children age birth to 6 years old. For the past 45 years, FDC has been serving children with physical and developmental disabilities, offering a broad range of on-site specialized services in the child’s natural environment, with typically developing peers. Felton serves approximately 230 families, of which 30 percent of the children being served have identified special needs, ranging from speech and language or developmental delays including autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, just to name a few.

All of FDC’s work is rooted in the belief of inclusion. FDC believes that an inclusive classroom offers high-quality early childhood experiences and instruction is meaningful and builds upon the interests of the children, plus is developmentally appropriate, responsive and inquiry based. Providing an inclusive environment means addressing children’s needs through an individualized approach, while focusing on social, emotional, physical and cognitive aspects of learning.

That means tackling the challenge of focusing on social, emotional, physical and cognitive aspects of learning. A big piece of the puzzle is Valdez-Robles connecting with parents to make sure that they are on the same page as far as the child’s development.

It is Valdez-Robles’ job to meet these challenges and help students succeed.

A model creating impact
During her time at FDC over the last two years, Valdez-Robles has helped many families via the teacher-based model for dual-language students. This means that throughout the day one teacher speaks only Spanish, while another one speaks only English. This method is used to help strengthen children’s skills in both languages, while still allowing all students to be exposed to both. While many families want their child to learn English only, Valdez-Robles counsels parents about the value of students being bilingual.

Consistency in a dual-language learner program is important. The center has worked to create a flow for children who participate in the DLL classrooms. After leaving the Rainbow Room, children who enter the Butterflies classroom are part of the DLL cohort and will follow the flow until they are ready to leave FDC and start kindergarten. This consistency ensured that each child has the opportunity to strengthen their home language and a second language before leaving the program. (See model).

Valdez-Robles works daily to create a classroom environment where all students can thrive, despite their challenges. Impact has been powerful and swift. Valdez-Robles recently had a child experiencing great difficulty maintaining focus in class, with this student exhibiting disruptive behaviors. The educator noticed that their was a high need, especially since this child had only a few months left to graduate. That’s when she turned to a social-emotional component to combat the challenging behaviors the student exhibited; she worked with the classroom team and internal support systems to develop an individualized Positive Behavior Support plan.

For preschoolers who exhibit challenging behavior, the teaching staff conduct Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs) and how to approach challenging behavior using Positive Behavior Support. By collecting Behavior Observation Reports, for example, teachers are able to identify the function of the child’s behavior and how to create plans that can effectively prevent, address and change negative behavior to become more socially appropriate and more effective when communicating.

Valdez-Robles explains, “I was very concerned about this child. I wanted to ensure this student will go to the right school to get the services they needed and the supports for the family. It took a couple of months to have everyone on the same page as to how to best support the child. Part of the challenge was working with the family to agree to partner with us and be on the same page. As many of the families deal with multiple risks factors, this particular family was going through a hard time. I worked with many people at various agencies to remedy this situation. There were many obstacles to success, but a community effort changed this child’s life for the better.”

The good news is that Valdez-Robles formidable effort translated to the student becoming part of a bilingual kindergarten class, with the services offered that were needed by the youngster and the family.

When the student’s mother recently saw Valdez-Robles on the street, she gave the educator a big hug, smiled from ear to ear and stated, “Gracias, maestra. Mi hijo es muy inteligente.” (Thank you, teacher. My child is very intelligent.”)

Valdez-Robles could see how proud the mother was of her child, so she also smiled.

One other success story was around test scores. SFUSD mandates that all students take a kinder-ready test to determine if they recognize shapes, letters and numbers. Valdez-Robles was so proud when one child obtained a 100 percent score. This child’s English was very limited at first, but she aced the test … with her teacher’s invaluable support and dedication.

Another impactful item is that lately Valdez-Robles’ students have been getting their first choice of schools in San Francisco — no easy task. The top five elementary schools into which FDC is feeding are Buena Vista, Leonard R. Flynn, Alvarado, Bryant and Cesar Chavez (Cesar Chavez and Bryant are the two elementary schools that are part of the Mission Promise Neighborhood.)

The future
Valdez-Robles loves her job. As she cherishes the happiness of others, she remains honored to help families succeed by connecting with each other. That’s because Valdez-Robles strongly believes that family is the foundation for any type of success in life.

As a model for the community, Valdez-Robles is gearing up to further her own education. The goal now is to obtain a Master’s degree in counseling and psychology, with a concentration in community mental health. This is a three-year program and will take determination for someone with a full-time job teaching at FDC.

There is no doubt Valdez-Robles will succeed, just like the students she inspires every day.


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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“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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Sometimes you meet someone and immediately realize that your mission and core values are one in the same. That serendipitously occurred last summer between Mission Bit CEO Stevon Cook and MEDA Technology Training Coordinator Leo Sosa. MEDA is the lead agency of the Mission Promise Neighborhood.

Sosa had been invited to speak about MEDA’s free Mission Techies program to Mission Bit’s summer 2015 cohort. The venue was the Valencia Street campus of City College of San Francisco. When Sosa walked in the room, he discovered 20 youth from different backgrounds — but there were no Latinos.

After the session, Sosa shared with Cook the story of MEDA’s Mission Techies, putting Latinos from underresourced communities on the path to tech careers. This is an important part of students being supported on a cradle-to-college-to-career continuum, with Mission Techies being taught IT skills while simultaneously being encouraged to continue their higher education.

Cook then explained how Mission Bit focuses on teaching coding to high school seniors, running “camps” on that topic right in the schools.

That’s when the brainstorming began.

They knew there needed to be crossover for their programs, as both share the goal to close the diversity gap in tech. While at times this seems like a Herculean task, Sosa and Cook’s passion for their respective work provides them the impetus to push the work forward.

The result? Sosa currently shepherds some of the Mission Techie Latinos into the Mission Bit coding program, and the Mission Techies curriculum now incorporates elements of Mission Bit.

The initial joint project was for the fall 2015 cohort of Mission Techies to refurbish 10 MacBook Pros for the Mission Bit program. That number has now grown exponentially — the Techies current winter 2016 cohort is in the process of refurbishing more than 150 computers, as Mission Bit received a large donation of laptops from tech company Symantec.

The second project will be having Mission Bit run their five-week Hack Reactor coding camp at MEDA’s Digital Opportunity Center, starting next week. This camp is an immersive, JavaScript-focused coding academy.

Mission Bit and MEDA’s Mission Techies have each been making a difference in the lives of young people in the community.

Together, the synergy of these organizations’ collaboration will make that impact all the greater in San Francisco’s Mission Promise Neighborhood.

Interested in the Hack Reactor coding camp starting Feb. 8 at MEDA, a Mission Promise Neighborhood parnter?

Call MEDA’s Leo Sosa at (415) 282-3334 ext. 105; tech@medasf.org.


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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2025-01292016_EVN-Beatriz Antunez Salesforce Webinar Social Media Images_blog_640x295px

Data. Information. Facts.

No matter how you say it, sharing data can be powerful, but it takes the right opportunity and a team of experts to make that a reality. That opportunity came from the Department of Education three years ago, with the creation and funding of the Mission Promise Neighborhood – a federal initiative to support children on a cradle-to-college-to-career continuum.

The strategy
As Director of Evaluation for the Mission Promise Neighborhood, Monica Lopez has ensured that her team is at the vanguard of innovation as it pertains to emerging data-sharing technologies.

There was an immediate need for MEDA, the lead agency, to research options for data sharing among partners of the initiative. A flexible technology was required to create a robust platform to share information about clients in San Francisco’s Mission District.

That’s when Technology/Data Systems Manager Michelle Reiss-Top put her know-how into action, starting the momentum of an impactful strategy that is still unfolding. Reiss-Top knew that Exponent Partners offered a superior product that could be integrated into Salesforce. She also knew that Exponent Partners’ founder, Rem Hoffman, had a nonprofit background and had built his platform with community-based organizations in mind.

In March 2015, a customized data-sharing platform was launched. Since that time, 75 staff at 13 Mission Promise Neighborhood partner agencies have been given a license and been trained on how to use Salesforce as a referral tool – trainings spearheaded by Reiss-Top at MEDA’s Plaza Adelante and in the nonprofits’ offices.

The webinar
Reiss-Top took her training strategies to the next level on Tuesday, being an integral part of a 60-minute Salesforce webinar called, “Managing Results for Human Services Agencies and Collective Impact: MEDA and Exponent Partners.”

Salesforce described this live event as follows:

“Human Services agencies are increasingly looking to work collaboratively with other organizations to tackle society’s most difficult challenges, through collective impact initiatives like the Promise Neighborhoods. In this live webinar, hear how Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) uses both Exponent Case Management and Salesforce Communities to bring together a network of agencies, community-based organizations and schools to help families in the Mission Promise Neighborhood thrive.”

First up was Jesse Maddex of Exponent Partners, who educated the audience of 150 via a high-level view of his company’s platform as a solution for nonprofits’ case management.

Maddex next introduced Reiss-Top to bring the product’s use to life – especially its use among a diverse community of organizations serving a targeted population. Maddex had asked her to join him because he deemed as unique the use case being implemented among Mission Promise Neighborhood partners. He also valued the scope of the project being undertaken.

After explaining how the shared database works, Reiss-Top answered some questions. The common theme was security concerns, especially as related to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). These fears were allayed by Reiss-Top, as she explained that Salesforce is HIPAA compliant, plus users can build in higher levels of security into the platform, which she has done for the Mission Promise Neighborhood.

Reiss-Top also knows that sharing this model is important. She describes her being part of the webinar as follows: “We can use this technical solution to help staff take action on the data we collect from our clients. It highlights their needs and relieves the staff of the burden of searching through the data looking for clients, saving staff time and providing more meaningful interactions with clients.”

What are the next steps for the Mission Promise Neighborhood evaluation team?

Explains Lopez, “Mission Promise Neighborhood’s aim is to have partners become active users, consistently updating information so that this system is a living, breathing thing.”

Watch the Salesforce webinar.


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


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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