Mission Graduates increases the number of K-12 students in San Francisco who are prepared for and complete a college education. Founded in 1972, Mission Graduates provides a wide range of after school, in-school, and summer programs helping to establish college education as an expectation and goal for every child. Each year, Mission Graduates reaches over 4,800 low-income children, youth, and families in San Francisco, emphasizing college as a means to achieve economic equity and strengthen the fabric of our community.
We believe higher education is the strongest tool we have to level the playing field for low-income, Latinx, Black, and immigrant youth and their families. Through a shift towards college expectations for every student, we are strengthening the fabric of our vibrant community.
History & Milestones
Our Path To College
St. John’s Educational Threshold Center grew out of the need and desire of the Church of St. John the Evangelist to serve the neighborhood.
1970 – 1971
St. John’s Educational Threshold Center is founded by members of The Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist. Offering after school tutoring on-site at the church, the program was supported by conscientious objectors of the Vietnam War, and gave students in the North Mission a place to receive academic support in the after school hours.
1974 – 1978
SJETC location burns down twice during these years, but programming continues. Through a federal grant, Got Me A Story To Tell, a multicultural resource book based on the stories of 5 of our students from 5 different backgrounds, is published.
1979 – 1986
Tutoring Center continues to support students and parents in the neighborhood with volunteer academic support, including ESL for parents.
1987 – 1990
Early Adolescent Programs begin, beginning with Mission Succeed, a dropout prevention program focused on students identified as at-risk from Marshall Elementary beginning in 5th grade and following them through 8th grade at Everett Middle School. This program evolved into Community Bridges at Everett Middle School, the first Beacon Initiative in San Francisco.
SJETC moves to current location on 16th Street.
1995 – 2004
Urban Institute encompassed many of our youth programming – and the issues directly affecting our students. Safe Streets, urban beautification, police partnerships, and a large-scale mosaic project gave our students agency in their own community.
In the late 90’s and early 00’s, Mission Graduates (then St. John’s Educational Threshold Center) began its own neighborhood beautification efforts through our Urban ArtWORKS program. Students came together, with the help of artist Gary Carlos, to create a series of amazing mosaics that surround the Mission Graduates office.
Students a part of Urban Institute surveyed the neighborhood and found liquor stores, dry cleaners and thrift shops, but no parks. Working with the Recreation and Park Department’s Open Space Committee, this youth advocacy project won $200,000. The next year they did the same thing, and won another $200,000 towards a safe space for kids to play. The third year they won $100,000. The following year, State Sen. Carole Migden secured $1.5 million from state open space funds, bringing the kids’ total to $2 million.
They tried buying a few vacant lots in the neighborhood, but couldn’t compete against housing developers in the red-hot real estate market. Eyeing a parking lot on Hoff street, the Kid Power team placed another bid. The developer learned he was competing against neighborhood kids who wanted a park and backed out, allowing the Recreation and Park Department to purchase the property on behalf of the Mission kids. Working with Recreation and Park staff, the kids helped design the park, held community meetings and even picked the name.
Mission Graduates begins its first and longest-standing partnership with Marshall Elementary School, becoming the on-site academic support.
Talking Circles was launched to give girls in SJETC programs a space to discuss issues they are facing and come up with positive solutions together. The program was expanded to include a Boys Group in 2006.
St. John’s ETC becomes Mission Graduates, with a renewed focus on preparing students from the Mission District for college futures. With this new mission, Mission Graduates created both college access programming and parent engagement work through College Connect and the Parent Partner Program.
Mission Graduates’ Extended Day Program expands to partner with students and families at Bryant Elementary School.
Mission Graduates joins forces with 26 other Mission District nonprofits to form a cradle to career network with the Mission Promise Neighborhood Initiative.
Mission Graduates expands again, to serve students at Leonard R. Flynn Elementary school, and to Everett Middle School with the Mission Community Beacon.
Mission Graduates college access programming grows to include all students at John O’Connell High School, a target school of the Mission Promise Neighborhood.
Mission Graduates’ Extended Day Program joins the Sanchez Elementary and Thomas Edison Charter Academy communities.
Mission Graduates Extended Day Program welcomes Alvarado Elementary School and launches a pilot through the Parent Partner Program to serve African American families.
Mission High School and Cleveland Elementary School join the Mission Graduates Extended Day Program community.
Mission Graduates welcomes ASAP at Mission High School and the Beacon Program at Bessie Carmichael to our growing community.