It was a historic day last January when 27-year-old educator Gabriela López was sworn in as the youngest-ever San Francisco Unified School District School Board member. As she took her oath — in perfect Spanish, no less — it was clear that López epitomizes the future leadership uniquely positioned to move San Francisco forward.

It was also an exciting day when López recently agreed to join the 16-person Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) Advisory Board, where her unique perspective will push forward our education initiative’s vision to strengthen families so students achieve.

As the daughter of working-class, immigrant parents, Commissioner López is working with the community on a comprehensive, landmark Board Resolution to address the challenges that Latinx students across the city are facing — including many Mission Promise Neighborhood students.

Following is an interview of Commissioner López by Director, Mission Promise Neighborhood Richard Raya.

RR: What in your background led you to your work bettering the lives of children?
GL: Growing up in public schools in Los Angeles led to my interest in pursuing public education. I almost immediately saw the mistreatment of students of color, and decided to become a teacher in the third grade. With my understanding of how geography affects the outcome of a student’s success, I immediately wanted to create change in these areas since I saw this affected my community the most.

RR: How does it feel to be the youngest person ever elected to the San Francisco School Board, and what unique perspective do you bring?
GL: Before running, I was told that if I won I would be the youngest woman ever elected to office in San Francisco. Initially, that felt like the furthest thing from reality. And while running, my age became more of an issue because it meant instability to a lot of people, despite the fact that I had the most experience in schools and education. When I found out I won, I was truly shocked, to the point of tears, but am of course extremely proud of this accomplishment and hope to encourage other young folks to do the same! My perspective is closest to the number of new teachers we are serving and my current experience in the classroom provides me the lens necessary when making decisions that better serve all of our students.

RR: Why did you opt to deliver your San Francisco School Board oath in Spanish?
GL: The thought was immediate once I learned about the legal issues that I can work around in order to do it. I knew my parents would attend, and wanted to make sure they were able to hear the words that granted me a seat on the Board. It reminded me of the work I did often as a child to help my parents understand what was happening — and the work that many young people who are bilingual do every day for their families.

RR: How does your vision for San Francisco students align with the vision of MPN to make sure every family succeeds and every student has the opportunity and tools to go to college?
GL: My vision ensures every decision made keeps students at the center. With this in mind, we can move forward in ensuring ALL students have access to a fulfilling, rigorous and empowering education. These, and many other characteristics, are the ones we need as a people to be successful in all areas of work, schooling and socialization. Which is where I can combine efforts and make connections with the work being done at Mission Promise Neighborhood. My role as a leader of the District also includes to call out bias and racism that prevents this from helping achieve this for all of our students.

RR: How does the fact that you were once compelled to supplement your teacher salary with a gig job give you empathy for our MPN families, who often face  the challenge to make ends meet in an increasingly expensive neighborhood?
GL: I am no stranger to holding various jobs to make a living wage. Up until landing my first teaching position in 2015, I was working at a restaurant while finishing my master’s in Education. Throughout my college experience, I had two, sometimes three jobs in order to maintain a living and finish my degree. Some of these jobs required me to work graveyard shifts and many, many nights. I more than empathize with many families who are working hard to survive. I’ve seen my parents go through it, and value it more than many of the qualities I hold. As a teacher in the classroom serving the populations that so often need more than one job to support their children, I focus on making their connections to their child’s education as seamless and accessible as possible, without interfering with their work.

RR: Can you describe the importance of the San Francisco School Board resolution, on which you are currently working, to ensure Latinx students’ equity?
GL: It’s important people understand the power the School Board has over the decisions being made that comes through the district. There are many opportunities to give input, feedback and advice since we are deciding for many different families. Each group has unique needs that the District can support — and the Latinx community is no different. This resolution will be the first of its kind to support a community of folks that even within it has a variety of needs. The resolution can help address what those needs are and how to better serve that specific group. But it can’t be done without much community input!

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byDirector, Mission Promise Neighborhood Richard Raya, 

What is a Promise Neighborhood? Well, it’s a term best understood by breaking it down.

It’s a PROMISE to our kids that they will have equity of opportunity in education and career.

It’s a NEIGHBORHOOD comprising community-based organizations collaboratively providing wraparound services so our families are strengthened and students succeed academically.

Promise Neighborhoods leverage the success of the ambitious social-policy experiment, the Harlem Children’s Zone. Started as a one-block pilot in New York City back in the 1990s, that national model for breaking the cycle of poverty has scaled to now focus on a 97-block area of central Harlem, with 12,509 children and 12,498 adults served.

After a decade of solid results in low-income communities  — from rural Mississippi to urban Los Angeles — now is the time to scale the Promise Neighborhood education model across the land, as we concurrently eradicate poverty and create educational equity.

San Francisco’s Mission Promise Neighborhood
In 2012, the Mission District of San Francisco featured a quartet of underperforming schools. When that December a five-year Promise Neighborhood grant was received from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), it was clear that things were about to change. This was the genesis of the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN). 

An expert MPN team was put together — featuring education professionals and leaders, plus a Family Success Coach for each school and at early learning centers — and a collaborative of 20+ partners was formed to provide wraparound services to strengthen our families so their kids could do better in school. That means affordable and stable housing, access to immigration and tenants’ rights, finding a medical home, getting a financial education … and so much more. We broke through silos and shared data along the way, holding  ourselves accountable to turning the curve on community indicators.

Our numbers speak for themselves: Over the initial six-plus years of our initiative, we used a shared case-management tool to connect 2,744 families with 5,590 different program referrals. 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.

A movement had been formed.

MPN 2.0
The challenging news was that despite the aforementioned results, 2018 could have been our final year.

Our grant from the Department of Education had sunsetted and MPN was operating on carryover funds. We did not know if we would be here in 2019, although we were sanguine, being among 12 Promise Neighborhoods across the country that were eligible for three available extension grants.

The exciting news is that our community was successful in winning a two-year, $6 million grant from the DOE, so we now have funding to take our initiative into 2020. Instead of downsizing, we doubled the number of schools and families with whom we are working 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.

MPN 2.0 has arrived. This iteration will create all-the-greater impact.

Scaling in California
Other Promise Neighborhoods across California have seen similar outcomes as MPN. Cognizant of the need to institutionalize this education initiative in federal, state and local governments, the five existing Promise Neighborhoods created the California Promise Neighborhood Network (CPNN).

In California, the results from the CPNN network informed the development of a statewide plan to end child poverty, with legislation (SB 686, the California Promise Neighborhoods Act of 2019) scheduled to be voted on this spring. This plan includes a recommendation for the investment by California into a total of 20 Promise Neighborhoods, at $5 million per neighborhood, complemented by increased spending on child care, CalWORKS and more. The plan estimates that the combination of these factors will result in annual benefits of more than $12 billion to state and local governments.  

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.”

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 is time for the City and County of San Francisco to begin asking itself if other local neighborhoods 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.

Let’s ensure that 2020 will put us on pace to finally end child poverty. Together.

 

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by Richard Raya, Director, Mission Promise Neighborhood

These are exciting — and busy — times for the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN), so I wanted to make sure you are updated on recent events and what’s ahead. Thanks for being part of MPN!

State Legislation for Promise Neighborhoods
We are excited to announce new state legislation that, if passed, would fund 20 Promise Neighborhoods across California, including Mission Promise Neighborhood. This legislation, The Promise Neighborhood Act of 2019, SB 686 (Allen), is co-authored by Assemblymember David Chiu and Senator Scott Wiener. You can read more about the legislation here.

If your organization would like to offer a letter of support, please submit to this portal by Monday April 1, and copy Norma Paz Garcia at ngarcia@medasf.org. The first hearing for SB 686 is April 10, and MEDA will be arranging a bus to take community members to Sacramento to advocate for this bill the day before, April 9. If you would like to join the bus trip to Sacramento, please contact Lucia Obregon at lobregon@medasf.org.

Ending Child Poverty
The SB 686 Promise Neighborhood legislation is tied to a broader campaign inspired by recommendations in the End Child Poverty Plan. These comprehensive recommendations could eliminate deep child poverty for 450,000 California children when fully implemented, while working to break the cycles of intergenerational poverty. The campaign is led by Conway Collis, President and CEO of GRACE. We would like to thank our partners Mission Graduates and Sanchez Elementary for hosting Mr. Collis on March 7; they shared with him how the Mission Promise Neighborhood wraparound model consists of Family Success Coaches working in concert with school administration, out-of-school-time provider Mission Graduates, and mental health provider Instituto Familiar De La Raza.

Stayover Shelter at BVHM

The School Board agreed to allow the homeless shelter at Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 to extend services to students at other schools. We are in conversation with the shelter operator, Dolores Street Community Services, to develop a process for the Family Success Coaches at the eight other Mission Promise Neighborhood schools to begin making referrals to the BVHM shelter.

State of Latino Children and Youth
The majority of homeless students in SFUSD are Latino: This is just one of many indicators of the challenges facing Latino students. Mission Promise Neighborhood is working with the San Francisco Latino Parity and Equity Coalition to develop a report on the state of Latino children and youth in San Francisco, including a dashboard showing key indicators such as homelessness, early learning scores, graduation rates and more, for presentation to the SFUSD School Board and the Board of Supervisors. We aim to align this information to the Our Children Our Families framework and present it along with a set of recommendations during Latino Heritage Month.

Huge Book Donation
March 7 was a rainy day, but that didn’t stop Mission Promise Neighborhood from rolling up our sleeves and helping Good Samaritan Family Resource Center store a donation of 10,000 children’s books in our building, Plaza Adelante. We look forward to collaborating with Mission Promise Neighborhood partners to distribute these books in the #MissionSF community. Stay tuned.

Visit from Department of Education
On February 22, MPN was honored to host Elson Nash, Promise Neighborhood program director at the U.S. Department of Education. We toured Bryant Elementary with our partner Mission Graduates and San Francisco Unified School District administrators. MPN shared how our collaborative, wraparound approach supports both students and their families.

Upcoming Events

Prop C Outreach
MPN families are helping the City prioritize how the Prop C “ECE For All” funds should be allocated through the Office of Early Care and Education once they are available. On March 7, Good Samaritan families provided feedback and their top two priorities are increasing ECE teacher wages and increasing low-income subsidies. Thank you to Good Samaritan for engaging families and hosting and MPN staff for facilitating this very important planning process. For more info on the Prop C process go here. There are two more outreach meetings to occur at MNC and Felton. The MNC event will occur Thursday, March 21. For more information contact Ada Freund at afreund@medasf.org.

Referral Redesign
Our referral tool is our secret sauce: We work with our community partners to make thousands of family referrals to each other for services such as housing, health care, legal services, job training and more (read our brief). But there is always room for improvement. Our Evaluation team is using partner meetings to discuss ways to redesign the referral tool. Using human-centered design concepts, we hope to make the referral tool even more effective. We have conducted four design meetings to date, and the next one is scheduled for April 4. If you would like to get involved, contact Michelle Reiss-Top, Technology and Data Systems Manager, at mreisstopp@medasf.org.

Scholarships Fundraiser
Students at John O’Connell High School, in #MissionSF, want to continue their education after high school, but they often struggle with overcoming financial barriers. Together, we can help them realize their dream of attending college. That’s why the Mission Promise Neighborhood Scholarship Fund is raising money that will go directly to graduating seniors to help them achieve higher education. A huge thanks to Mission Graduates! We hope you can attend our popular fundraiser events!

FIRST EVENT: Thursday, March 21st, 5 p.m.-8 p.m. at Evil Eye (3927 Mission @ 25th).

Or donate now on our crowdfunding page.

Latino Day
On April 27 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., a collective of community partners will be celebrating Latino Academic Excellence, Culture and Higher Education. The event is geared toward the entire family. MPN will start off with a youth panel, followed by an all-day Resource Fair. We will have two workshop rotations focused on student reclassification, enrollment, A-G requirements, education supports for undocumented students, Dream Act, and how to apply for financial aid and scholarships. We will end the day with a celebration of academic excellence with the Latin American Teacher Association (LATA) issuing a certificate of recognition to students across schools in the Mission and the Excelsior. The Planning Organizations include Mission Graduates, Roadmap to Peace, My Brother and Sister’s Keeper, Human Rights Commission, John O’Connell High School, Mission Neighborhood Centers, Instituto Familiar de la Raza and MEDA.

Abriendo Puertas
In partnership with First 5, we will be hosting a three-day Abriendo Puertas new-facilitator training March 26-27. The training will build the capacity of new facilitators who work directly with families of children 0-5 years to engage them in a program created by Latino parents for Latino parents. The mission of this 10-session program is to “support parents in their roles as family leader and as their child’s first and most in influential teacher in a home that is their child’s first school.” This two-generation approach builds parent-leadership skills and knowledge to promote family well-being and positive education outcomes for children. We will have a total of eight MPN partner agencies in attendance and a graduating class of 20 new Abriendo Puertas facilitators. The MPN partners include: Tandem, Partners in Early Learning; Mission Neighborhood Centers Inc.; Homeless Prenatal Program; Jamestown Community Center; Felton Family Institute FDC; Good Samaritan Family Resource Center; El Centro Bayview; and MEDA.

 

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Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) works daily to provide wraparound services to strengthen families.

Fernanda’s story showcases this success.

Her mother renewed her Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), filing her taxes. The family was connected to low-cost internet. She obtained an internship as a medical administrative assistant at an MPN partner organization.

The story starts with an early learning training given at MPN early learning partner organization, Felton Family Developmental Center. Mother Sandra (photo, fourth left) and her 19-year-old daughter Fernanda (photo, third left), were recruited to attend the Abriendo Puertas parent leadership training, co-facilitated by MPN Family Success Coaches Ana Avilez and Dannhae Herrera Wilson, along with Child Development/ Early Learning Specialist Magali Valdes-Robles of Felton. Fernanda lives with her mother, father and two siblings, including her five-year-old little sister.

Fernanda wanted to attend the Abriendo Puertas training to help her mother get her little sister off to the best possible start. Abriendo Puertas supports parents in their roles as their child’s first, and most influential teacher, and has been a contributing factor — along with Felton’s high-quality early care and education services — in the improvements we’ve seen in the children’s developmental assessment scores and the percentage of the parents reading to their children. (Blog).

Fernanda, a native of San Francisco’s Excelsior District, was a waitress at the time, even though she had graduated from a medical administrative assistant training program at Mission Language and Vocational School in 2018. She was unable to begin her career as a medical assistant because she could not garner an internship that would give her the 160 hours she needed to begin her career.

Upon hearing this, Avilez immediately reached out to MPN partner Mission Neighborhood Health Center (MNHC) — and Fernanda had an interview with this community-based organization two days later. A couple of days after that successful interview, Fernanda started training and interning at MNHC. At the same time, Fernanda’s mother was connected to financial capacity-building services at MEDA, including ITIN renewal, tax filing and low-cost internet.

We are pleased to share that MNHC has now hired Fernanda as an employee.

This success story is a prime example of how our partners come together to provide a wraparound, two-generation approach to working with families and their children, and the persistence and desire to achieve that exists within our community.

MPN is proud to be part of Fernanda and her family’s success story.

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Co-authored by:
Associate Director Liz Cortez, Mission Promise Neighborhood
Early Learning Program Manager Ada Alvarado Freund, Mission Promise Neighborhood

Abriendo Puertas Professional Learning Community includes the following partners:
Felton Institute
Good Samaritan Family Resource Center
Homeless Prenatal Program
Mission Neighborhood Centers
San Francisco Unified School District – Early Education Department
Support for Families

Introduction
Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors’ mission is to “support parents in their roles as family leader and as their child’s first and most influential teacher in a home that is their child’s first school.” This two-generation approach builds parent leadership skills and knowledge to promote family well-being and positive education outcomes for children. It is the nation’s first evidence-based comprehensive training program developed by and for Latino parents with children ages 0-5.

Since starting in 2007, Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors has trained over 1,800 facilitators in more than 500 organizations, impacting over 80,000 parents/families across the country. The curriculum focuses on early childhood development, early literacy, health, social-emotional well-being, the use of media and technology, numeracy, school preparation and parent advocacy. In 2012, University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Human Development identified that participants had made remarkable growth across all areas of assessment. In the analysis, the largest effects were found in the following areas: school preparation; health development; parenting; and advocacy.

Within the Mission District of San Francisco, a collective of Latino family-serving organizations that are part of the Mission Promise Neighborhood initiative (MPN) — and historically part of First 5 San Francisco’s Family Resource Center initiative — are working together to increase the number of families that access Abriendo Puertas at the neighborhood level.

MPN serves as a backbone organization that supports the collaborative efforts of partner organizations within the Mission District, all working to improve school readiness outcomes and support families. The population of Latinos in the Mission District is approximately 21,000 with 1,700 children ages 0-5. Latino families in the Mission have a median income of $25,000, compared to the San Francisco household median of $78,000.

After learning that turnover of Abriendo Puertas facilitators is a real challenge within our partner network, MPN and partner First 5 San Francisco hosted a community training to rebuild the capacity of these organizations. We also wanted to grow the number of organizations offering Abriendo Puertas. In early 2017, 14 facilitators, representing six organizations, participated in the training provided by Abriendo Puertas. We realized that to maintain the momentum and desire to offer more sessions to families, a one-time training was not going to be enough. So we created a professional learning community and started meeting every two months to share best practices and support each other in growing the work.

The group identified a few results and has mostly focused their collective work on two of them:

  1. More families have access to Abriendo Puertas in the Mission District and San Francisco.
  2. Families feel connected to their Abriendo Puertas family after the series.

Our collective impact
MPN serves as a backbone organization in many ways, including: coordinating the trainings for existing and new facilitators in the community; facilitating the professional learning community for facilitators; and collecting and analyzing the data from various partners to tell a collective story. We have been able to increase the number of organizations offering Abriendo Puertas by 133 percent (from three in 2016 to seven in 2017) and all of these organizations participate in the bimonthly professional learning community to share data and tell a collective story for the community. Our goals for achieving communitywide impact include breaking organizational silos to work together to ensure that more families are accessing Abriendo Puertas, and that when families participate they stay connected to other families and build a community of support.

By the numbers:

  • 133 percent increase in organizations offering Abriendo Puertas while adding 14 new facilitators.
  • 100 percent of organizations offering Abriendo Puertas are participating in the Professional Learning Community and sharing data to tell a collective story.
  • 159 percent increase in Abriendo Puertas participation.

Building the professional learning community
Bringing people together to work on a common result takes coordination support from a lead organization; as such, we work to build relationships and develop trust. This helps with keeping a group engaged over time. Coordination support is critical to the planning of the meetings, the follow up on commitments and the collection of data to tell the collective story. People are busy and therefore appreciate effective meetings: We use the Results-Based Facilitation framework for planning and running our meetings, thereby ensuring that we are all clear on why we are coming together and what the next steps will be. We are also creative in our approach to communicating across the group. In addition to holding meetings every two-months for one-and-a-half hours — complemented by one-on-one check-ins — we stay connected via a Facebook group page. We ensure that all of our communication is consistently and constantly messaging the vision and agreements for scaling this work.

The MPN Abriendo Puertas learning community includes 100 percent of the organizations in the community that offer Abriendo Puertas, and the facilitators collectively developed group results or goals and how they will measure progress. At this moment, the data that is shared includes the number of participants and the number/percent that graduate from a series. In addition to having a collective goal of increasing the number of participants, the professional learning community is a space for facilitators to support each other and share best practices. We have seen organizations pair up to co-facilitate sessions and have also seen newer facilitators learning from more-seasoned facilitators. The group has developed a year-round community calendar that informs families of where a series is being offered across organizations.

Organizations in our community have a high level of staff turnover, making it difficult to stay aligned to reach our goals. In addition, facilitators have multiple demands on their time and therefore joining meetings outside of their own organization is often challenging. We find it key that supervisors — and the leadership of each organization which is participating — is fully supportive of the facilitators that attend the meetings and understand the goals of the group.

Results of working together
Since working together to increase capacity in facilitators and new organizations offering Abriendo Puertas in early 2017 and the creation of the professional learning community, we have seen a year-by-year increase in the amount of participants that are engaging in the program. As seen in Figure 1, we have seen participation increase by 159 percent since the beginning of 2017.

In addition to engaging in the program, we want participants to feel connected to their Abriendo Puertas family after they graduate, so we hosted our first “Fiesta Comunitaria Abriendo Puertas” in September of 2018. There were 289 family members who came out to celebrate family leadership and promote social connection among families. The professional learning community conducted a post-event survey to gather feedback from families. One parent shared, “I learned that the Abriendo Puertas program is more than a parenting program …  it is also a movement at the national level.”

One story: Olga, Abriendo Puertas facilitator and professional learning community member
What is it like being part of this learning community? How have you felt supported as a first-time facilitator and the only one offering it through your organization?

“The provider learning group meetings have been really useful because they give me the opportunity to keep connected to providers of other organizations, to know what they are doing in the community, the classes they are planning to offer in the future and we can discuss relevant topics related to Abriendo Puertas and the scaling of the work citywide.

“Since it was the first time that I facilitated — and also the first time that our agency implemented this program — it would have been helpful to have had more staff trained within our agency. Being a part of the professional learning community was supportive and crucial, since any questions that I had, they were there to answer and, more importantly, to connect me with a facilitator from another agency that co-facilitated a series with me.”

Next Steps to Deepen our Work
Focusing on the pre-/post-assessment
We have learned that organizations use the participant pre- and post-assessment in different ways, and some not at all. Partner organizations have found the assessment too long, so participants find it difficult to answer. Some organizations have created their own pre- and post-assessment questions, while others have broken down the questions into separate pre- and post-assessments to give to participants by session. For example, one partner uses creative ways of capturing the increase in knowledge, using a learning tree with each leaf documenting a participant’s thoughts and learnings after a session. Not having the same pre- and post-assessment data across organizations has limited the kind of analysis that we can do. We will continue to find ways of aligning our assessments to demonstrate our collective story and impact.

Participation versus graduation
In addition to scaling so that more families access Abriendo Puertas, we want more families to complete all of the session, and at least enough sessions to graduate. In 2019, some partners will be focusing on graduating more families by developing more intentional strategies for retention and engagement of participants. We want all families to feel recognized for participating and we will promote certificates for participation and certificates for graduation.

Linkage to advocacy and leadership development opportunities after the series
We want to follow up with families after they have graduated to see how they are doing with their goal-setting and how we can support their advocacy and leadership goals. We have learned that some families are starting to take on advocacy and leadership roles within their schools and in their community. We want to document and celebrate how they are getting involved and putting their advocacy skills to practice.

We will continue to build the facilitator capacity in our community by offering additional trainings for our partners. This will allow us to continue to scale the work in the Mission District, and across San Francisco. Working collectively in a professional learning community allows us to support each other while trying to achieve these big goals of ensuring that more families participate and graduate from Abriendo Puertas, plus that they feel connected to their Abriendo Puertas family after they graduate.

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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. MPN partners provide a network of support services to help families achieve economic stability and the tools needed to support their children’s academic achievement, creating a brighter future for the whole Mission community.

 

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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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por Adriana Jones Lima

(English follows Spanish)

La familia Arriola Hernández vino a los Estados Unidos en los noventas y es originalmente de la Ciudad de México. Refugio llegó primero a los EEUU a continuar sus estudios y luego mandó por su esposa, Elvira.  A poco tiempo Refugio aprendió que la vida estadounidense cuesta mucho y se encontró con la necesidad de trabajar por tiempo completo.

Años después, Carmen la hermana de Elvira vino a San Francisco para reunirse con su ella y su esposo, y los tres compartieron un apartamento en 656-48 Capp St. Aquí en San Francisco, Carmen conoció a su esposo Mario Hernández y los dos se movieron a un studio debajo del apartamento de su hermana Elvira.

La familia Arriola le gusta vivir en La Mission por la cultura y se siente muy agusto porque puede hablar su propio lenguaje, y ir de compras en tiendas y supermercados que llevan productos como los que conoce en México. También viven en una locación perfecta, están localizados muy cerca de transporte público y no necesita coche.  

Elvira y Refugio tienen dos hijas Gloria y Jessica. Gloria asiste John O’Connell High y Jessica en Cesar Chavez Elementary. Las dos escuelas son parte de La Comunidad Promesa de la Mission. En Cesar Chavez, la familia Arriola conocio a Yadira Diaz (foto, tercer derecha), Guia de Éxito Familiar de la Comunidad Promesa de La Mission. Elvira es una mamá voluntaria. Desde el 2006 Elvira es voluntaria en Cesar Chavez ayudando a las maestras en preparara sus materiales para la clases también es voluntaria en Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 y John O’Connell High School. También apoya a  Diaz cuando ofrece talleres de servicios a los padres. Elvira también es la vice-presidenta de ELAC (English Learners Advisory Council). Jessica y Gloria aprecian mucho a Elvira y les gusta pasar tiempo de calidad con sus mama y recibir su apoyo en la escuela. La familia Arriola Hernandez tiene una gran presencia en la Mission. Refugio, Carmen, y Mario trabajan en limpieza en la ciudad. Carmen también vende sus ricos tamales en el corazón de la Misión, y su esposo le ayuda a prepararlos.

Después de 20 años de vivir en su hogar en la Mission la familia recibió una carta explicando que la dueña iba poner el edificio en venta. La familia Arriola Hernández es testigo del desalojo que está sucediendo en La Mission y tenía miedo que su futuro sería igual a los 8,000 Latinos que han sido desalojado de sus casas desde el 2000. La carta del dueño del edificio llegó como un golpe a la familia, rompiendo su tranquilidad con la realización que tal vez podría  ser desalojado de su hogar.

Refugio recuerda ese momento muy difícil, “no podíamos dormir ni comer. Me despertaba cada noche a las 2 o 3 de la mañana pensando en el futuro de mi familia. Pensé que nuestra única opción era volver a México.” El gran miedo de Refugio y Elvira era de quitarles a sus hijas la única casa que conocían y empezar un vida nueva en México.   

Elvira confió en  Diaz durante ese momento difícil para encontrar una solución.  Diaz refirió a la familia al equipo de Bienes Raíces de la Comunidad en MEDA. Después de su primera cita en MEDA la familia Arriola Hernandez empezó a trabajar con MEDA para comprará el edificio donde vivían. La familia organizaron a todos los inquilinos para pedirle a los dueños del edificio que vendieran a MEDA. Después de mucho trabajo escribiendo cartas y haciendo llamadas a los dueños el edificio se le vendió a MEDA, y se formó parte del programa “Small Sites.

Juan Diego Castro, de MEDA, explicó que la familia tomó la gran responsabilidad de organizar a los inquilinos para que MEDA pudiera comprar el edificio y asegurarse que los inquilinos no fueran desalojados. La familia Arriola Hernandez les daba esperanza a los inquilinos en ese momento difícil y siempre estaban al tanto comunicando los procesos de la venta

Después que MEDA compró el edificio, Refugio todavía recordaba lo sucedido y cómo su edificio tenía un rótulo de venta. Refugio y Castro de MEDA quitaron el anuncio juntos. Al final, Refugio y su familia pudieron dormir sin miedo y pudieron seguir sus vidas. Necesitamos crear más oportunidades para familias como la familia Arriola Hernández en la Misión, esta familia forma un componente importante de nuestra comunidad.

A Determined Family is Strengthened

The Arriola Hernandez family moved to the United States in the 1990s from Mexico City. Refugio Arriola was the first one to move to the U.S., seeking to continue his studies. The newcomer quickly learned that life in his adopted homeland was very expensive, forcing him to spend much of his time working just to keep pace. Once settled, he was reunited with his wife, Elvira, in San Francisco.

A few years later, Elvira’s sister, Carmen, also moved to San Francisco to live with her sister and brother-in-law. The three shared an apartment at 656-48 Capp St. Carmen later met her husband, Mario Hernandez, and the pair moved into a studio on a floor below her sister.

The Arriola family enjoys living in the Mission because of the culture: They feel comfortable here because they have the ability to speak their native language, plus go shopping in stores and supermarkets that carry products found back home in Mexico. Their apartment is in a perfect location, as living within walking distance to public transportation allows them to get around the city without the expense of owning a vehicle.

Elvira and Refugio have two daughters attending Mission Promise Neighborhood schools: Gloria attends John O’Connell High School; and Jessica is a student at Cesar Chavez Elementary School. While volunteering at Cesar Chavez, Elvira met MPN Family Success Coach Yadira Diaz (photo, third right). Looking to give back to her community, Elvira has volunteered at Cesar Chavez elementary school since 2006, helping teachers prepare materials for class, plus supporting Diaz in the connection of families to free services. Additionally, Elvira also generously volunteers her time at Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 (part of MPN’s planned expansion) and at John O’Connell; she even serves as vice president of ELAC (English Language Learners Advisory Council). Her daughters appreciate having their mom’s presence on their campuses, and all of the support she provides them in school. Refugio, Carmen and Mario work as janitors in the city, but on weekends Carmen and Mario also sell their delicious homemade tamales in the heart of the Mission. Clearly, the Arriola Hernandez family has big a presence in the community.

Unfortunately, life in that Mission became more complicated when, after two decades of living in their apartment, the family received a letter explaining that the owners were putting the building up for sale. The Arriola Hernandez family was fearful for their future, as they had already seen the displacement taking place around them in the Mission. They hoped their lives would not change like the 8,000 Latinos that have been displaced from the Mission since 2000.

Refugio looks back on this difficult time and laments, “I couldn’t sleep or eat. I would wake up around 2 or 3 in the morning thinking about the future of my family. I thought our only option would be to return to Mexico.” The family’s biggest fear was being compelled to remove their daughters from the only home they had known to have them start life anew in Mexico.

Seeking a solution, Elvira reached out to Diaz, who connected the family to MPN partner MEDA’s Community Real Estate team. After their very first visit with MEDA, the Arriola Hernandez family took their first steps in working with MEDA so the nonprofit could buy the building via the City’s Small Sites Program. The family worked tirelessly to organize the neighbors in the building to ask the current owners to sell the building to MEDA. After much tenant hard work, letter writing and phone calls to the owners, the latter finally decided to sell the six-unit building to MEDA.

Community Real Estate Project Assistant Juan Diego Castro explained that the family took on the responsibility of organizing the neighbors so that MEDA could buy the building and ensure that the tenants would not be displaced. The Arriola Hernandez family gave hope to the tenants during this difficult time, and remained to committed throughout the entire process. Without their help, none of this would have been possible.

After MEDA bought the building, Refugio remembers taking down the large “For Sale” sign in front of the building — a sign that had caused everyone so much stress. Finally the Arriola Hernandez family could sleep without fear and continue their lives in the Mission.

The opportunity gap needs to be closed for families, like this one, in the Mission, for they are an important part of our community. We need families like the Arriola Hernandezes, the thread that keeps the Mission together. They give back to the community and help make the Mission a brighter place to live.

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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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La misión de la Iniciativa Comunidad Promesa de la Mission vive en la familia Lourdes Velazquez – ya que son un ejemplo de lo que pasa cuando una comunidad trabaja colectivamente para apoyar y abogar por una familia. Juntos con La Raza Centro Legal, MEDA, Causa Justa, Mission Graduates y con otros recursos disponibles en la comunidad, hoy en día, la familia Lourdes Velazquez está sobresaliendo.

Oscar Moreno Sánchez (papá) fue víctima de un asalto violento en La Pulga de San Jose, sufriendo heridas críticas en el brazo. Lo transportaron desde San Jose al hospital general de San Francisco para su tratamiento, donde lo encontraron su esposa e hijo. Allí, operaron a Oscar y lo apoyaron con terapia física y emocional para superar su trauma.  

Las heridas físicas y emocionales no eran lo único que estresaba a Oscar y su familia en ese momento. Oscar fue que incapacitado después del asalto, sin seguro médico, y como no tenía documentación migratoria, no podía recibir seguro de descapacidad. La familia estaba en crisis.

En ese entonces, Oscar (hijo) estudiaba en John O’Connell High School y recibió apoyo de la Gerente de Educación de MEDA. Oscar (hijo) le comentó a la Gerente lo que había sucedido, y ella los refirió a La Raza Centro Legal.

En La Raza Centro Legal, Oscar (papá) aplicó para una visa humanitaria por el asalto violento que sufrió.

Después una Gerente de Apoyo Familiar les ayudó a aplicar al California Victim Compensation Board, un programa federal que provee un ingreso mensual en situaciones como la de Oscar que fue asaltado violentamente, hasta que el pueda trabajar nuevamente.

Con las conexiones a La Raza Centro Legal y al California Victim Compensation Board, Oscar (papa) empezó su proceso para tener documentación legal migratoria y a recibir los recursos financieros necesarios para la familia.

Pero no paramos allí. Ya que salieron de una crisis económica, Ana Avilez, Guia de Éxito Familiar, conecto la familia con el departamento de Oportunidades del Vivienda en MEDA, para ayudar a la familia establecer crédito y aplicar para un apartamento de BMR (Below-Market-Rate). Ana también refirió la familia a Causa Justa para ayudarles a resolver un conflicto con un dueño y explicarles sus derechos como inquilinos.

Y finalmente, sabiendo que la educación es lo más importante para asegurar un futuro mejor para Oscar (hijo), Mission Graduates está trabajando con él, ayudándole a aplicar a varias universidades, becas y asistencia financiera.

Para Avilez, su trabajo es muy personal. Ana dice, “a mí me gusta mi trabajo porque sé que estoy ayudando a mi comunidad. Años atrás, mi familia ocupó los mismos servicios, y alguien nos ayudó. Y ahora yo quiero ayudar. Saber es poder. Si ellos saben sus derechos, pueden llegar a alcanzar sus metas.”

Actualmente, Avilez sigue comunicándose con la familia regularmente. Ellos saben que el proceso inmigratorio toma tiempo, y se sienten confortable porque Ana les ayuda, no están abandonados, tienen una comunidad de organizaciones con la Comunidad Promesa de la Mission que aboga por ellos a diario.

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by MPN Director Richard Raya

All San Franciscans should be dismayed by the Chronicle story [“A child left behind: SF student failed every class in high school,” March 28, 2018 ], which showcased a student who Booker T. Washington Community Service Center agency staff claim garnered straight F’s over many years — without intervention — while attending Washington High School in the Outer Richmond District. We implore the populace to demand students and parents of our most-underserved schools be given the tools they need to succeed. That means equitable allocation of funding, staffing and family support dollars, with a prioritization of our children’s futures in San Francisco’s robust $10+ billion annual budget.

The 20 community partners of the Mission Promise Neighborhood — an education initiative working in a quartet of Mission District schools — know of the endemic challenges our primarily low-income students face. But we vehemently disagree with the statement in the article that: “Nothing has changed in years and years. There’s no help. There’s no intervention.”

Our students’ narrative is different.

With Mission Promise Neighborhood’s network of support, our students are definitely not slipping through the cracks. That is because each school, a family success coach and neighborhood partners lock arms to serve as a supportive community for students and families who are most in need. We work collaboratively to identify at-risk students — and focus our resources to meet the needs of those students and their families. Individualized action plans are developed to meet students’ academic goals, including connecting these youth and their families to health care (mental/physical), housing, child care, employment and more. Most importantly, we meet regularly to set goals, measure our results and hold ourselves accountable to getting the work done.

During our five-year initiative in partnership with SFUSD, John O’Connell High School graduation rates for our Latino students increased from 62 percent to 88 percent, and graduation rates for our African American students increased from 46 percent to 93 percent. These are dramatic numbers, showcasing the fact that something “has changed.”

The article mentioned that communication between the child’s school and parents was limited. In contrast, Mission Promise Neighborhood provides trauma-informed, culturally responsive programming. Surveys indicate that more than 94 percent of our parents feel welcome at our elementary schools. At our middle and high school, the percentage of parents who feel welcome is 92 percent and 93 percent, respectively.  

All kids are resilient and want to succeed: This belief in the ability of our children is part of the foundation of the national Promise Neighborhood movement. The first Promise Neighborhood was started in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood by Geoffrey Canada, when he made a promise that every child in his community can graduate prepared for college.

In San Francisco Unified’s Promise Neighborhood, we’re keeping that promise, and it’s only the beginning.

_______________________________

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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