by Director of Promise City Programs and Partnerships Liz Cortez

The Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) team is honored to present at the 2022 StriveTogether Convening in Chicago. The title of our session is “Listen and Follow While the Community Leads.” In this session, Parent and Youth Engagement Specialist Ana Avilez and Associate Director of Data and Learning Michelle Reiss-Top will share lessons learned from the engagement of parents and youth in a human-centered design process to co-create a community report card that focuses on systems barriers and fosters our community’s ownership of data to influence systemic change.

StriveTogether, of which MPN has been a member since 2018, is a national network that supports cradle-to-career initiatives (providing prenatal to career services) across the country by providing technical assistance to backbone teams working to achieve systems transformation in their communities. StriveTogether has challenged our initiative to collect and analyze data that addresses systemic inequities. Traditionally, the main focus of our data collection across our partnership has been on behavior change of the individual (child, youth and parent) and academic scores. In addition to these traditional metrics, we are interested in developing actionable systems indicators that will help us advocate for shifting policies, practices, resources and power structures that produce more equitable prenatal-to-career outcomes in our community. This is the focus of our MPN community report card.

“Those closest to the problem are closest to the solution.”
– Community Partner

Toward the end of 2021, MPN began engaging parents and youth using the human-centered design approach. A design team comprising parents, youth and staff began a dialogue with community members and collected information via one-on-one interviews and in focus groups. To work together in a virtual format due to pandemic challenges, we provided design team members with capacity-building around using both Zoom and the Miro collaborative platform, plus we surveyed members for any technology equipment needs.

Our meetings always started with the proposition that we would co-create something that would reflect the needs and desires of the community – and that we were open to what the group would come up with in terms of what it should look like. Parents and youth became researchers and developed the questions we would ask our community through one-on-one interviews and focus groups. After those interactions, interviewers from the design team had the opportunity to share the stories they were collecting: We started to see emerging themes. 

“I appreciated having a dialogue with my community rather than collecting feedback through a survey.”
– Design Team Member 

From surviving to thriving
We learned much about what our community members are experiencing when navigating systems, especially during the pandemic. Families are concerned about academic outcomes, but shared that many needs are not being addressed, creating barriers to students and families thriving. After analyzing all the information we gathered, we developed key insights that reflect our families’ needs and barriers.

Families shared that the system works against them and even takes advantage of them. The ability to obtain legal status is at the center of whether a family can thrive. Without such legal status, coupled with English-language skills to navigate systems (e.g., schools, city agencies, employment), parents are compelled to work more than one job and cannot spend quality time with their kids, with the latter harmed by this vicious cycle.

“Who is asking these questions? I’ve never been asked about my story.”
– Community Member

Families shared that they are experiencing survey and intake fatigue. Every institution that they navigate is asking them the same questions. They also shared that they rarely get feedback: They are curious about how things are changing in the community, but the data is not coming back to the community members to make sense of it. Consequently, we thought it was important that whatever we created to demonstrate community needs and desires should be immediately available to the community.

Prototype development: An MPN App to collect community data
After months of working collaboratively, we devised an App prototype that would allow us to collect community data on barriers and desires. Our App is in the pilot stage and includes questions about community members’ experiences as they navigate systems ranging from city agencies and community-based organizations to schools and others. Additionally, the App will be a place where community members can access videos and listen to stories that community members are sharing about their experiences, needs and desires. The App will provide community members with access to the data right after completing the surveys. They can see what other community members are saying and use the data in any leadership space they are in to advocate for their needs and those of the community.

Next steps
We have just begun the data collection through the App. We envision coding the data to develop systems-level indicators that will be tracked over time and used to paint a picture of what the community is experiencing and to begin a planning process with our community partners and parents, and youth around strategies and advocacy. We envision that families will have the data that they need to advocate for their needs and help to change the systems that are not working for them. 

Stay tuned for the next exciting phase of our work.


Community Report Card Design Team Members:
Rosario R., Parent
Abril M., College Student 
Jacqueline R., Parent
Maria G., Parent
Margarita G., Parent
Osiris L., Parent
Jacqueline H., Parent
Erick J., High School Student
Michelle Reiss-Top, Associate Director of Data and Learning
Ana Avilez, Parent and Youth Engagement Specialist
Alejandro Bautista Zugaide, Family Success Coach
Susana Gil-Duran, Early Learning Family Success Coach
Liz Cortez, Director of Promise City Programs and Partnerships

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by Director, Mission Promise Neighborhood Richard Raya (photo, right)

The most recent data from San Francisco Unified School District showed 2,144 homeless students in the district. The majority of these homeless students, 1,345, were English Language Learners, and 1,093 were Latino. In the face of this crisis, a school in the Mission District recently opened its gymnasium to its homeless students and their families to spend the night. Though some parents and neighbors didn’t like the idea, many other parents, the principal and 100 percent of the teachers agreed that it was the right thing to do.

I’m proud to say that Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) will now be expanding to support this brave school, Buena Vista Horace Mann, and four other schools, bringing our total to nine schools in the Mission altogether. Our Family Success Coaches will work closely with onsite providers Jamestown, Mission Graduates, Seven Teepees and Instituto Familiar De La Raza to help connect families at these schools to housing, jobs, health care, legal services and more. We are aligning with the City of San Francisco and San Francisco Unified School District’s Beacon Community Schools Initiative, because we believe that public schools are where we come together to care for each other’s children, provide resources to the entire community and build the society we would like to see.

In addition to this K-12 expansion, we are increasing our investment in Early Learning by expanding our parent capacity-building programming at Felton Institute, Mission Neighborhood Centers, Good Samaritan, Support for Families, Homeless Prenatal and San Francisco Unified School District. We’re also taking our Family Success Coach model to 20 family child care providers in the neighborhood. Finally, we’re partnering with lead agency MEDA’s real estate program to build early care and education centers for MPN partners that can effectively close the gap in early care and education slots over time, especially infant-toddler slots which are the highest need in our community.

We are able to do all of this because of our recent two-year, $6 million extension grant from the Department of Education to continue and expand MPN.

As our Mission District community faces more pressures than ever before, we are working together to keep our families in place and to support their success. The partners of MPN are using our new grant to double down on our collective impact approach — collaborating and building relationships across silos and service system barriers, and using a common database to share information and provide wraparound services.

We are still in the early stages of this new grant, but over the past two months, more than a dozen MPN community providers and school principals have come together to work through the on-the-ground implementation details and remind each other of our ambitious goals. We are committed to ensuring that implementation of the next version of MPN will continue the progress we have made: more students graduating, higher assessment scores, and parents that have the tools to provide and lead.

It’s only fitting that we host our community celebration at Buena Vista Horace Mann, our brave new partner school that exemplifies the spirit of Mission Promise Neighborhood. Join us next week to celebrate this investment in our community, along with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader, plus San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Supervisor Hillary Ronen and Commissioner Mark Sanchez, plus volunteers from Google leading children’s games. “Keeping the Promise,” Wednesday, September 19, 4 p.m., Buena Vista Horace Mann Community School. Food, music, dignitaries, games for the kids and more.

RSVP here.





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2301 Mission Street, Suite 304
San Francisco, CA 94110

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