This spring, Mission Graduates took a moment to celebrate where we’ve come from. With a rich history of community activism, academic support, and youth development, the St. John’s Educational Threshold Center Reunion was an opportunity to connect our legacy to the future of our work.
Mission Graduates, known as St. John’s Educational Threshold Center from 1972-2008, has always been rooted in community. Beginning with members of the St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church looking for a way to support the students and families living in the North Mission, SJETC was a connection point through tutoring and community events.
As the organization grew, SJETC became the Tutoring Center for Marshall Elementary students and the very first San Francisco Beacon at Everett Middle School. Engaging students through community clean-ups, safe street initiatives, and neighborhood beautification, Mission District youth became a force to be reckoned with in this community.
And they were empowered to make change. Through years of activism, Beacon youth saw the creation of a space to play in their community, Kid Power Park. And today, their legacy continues. A walk around 16th and Mission Street is filled with mosaic and sidewalk messages of hope.
Today, Mission Graduates has grown into the pipeline of college-access programming for K-12 grade students, serving 3,600 students and parents each year. And we know we couldn’t have gotten to this place without a legacy of Executive Directors, board members, staff, volunteers, and donors that have been by our side since 1972.
The Reunion was a gathering of our very first founders in the early 1970s, volunteers and donors from the 1980s, staff from the 1990s and 2000s, all the way to staff of today. And it was those founders that made this event happen.
Sylvia Yee, the first Executive Director and spearhead for the Beacon Initiative in San Francisco, partnered with long-time Executive Director Kyle Fiore, to bring together this community of supporters. And we all gathered to celebrate the legacy of Liz Specht – Executive Director, Board President, Volunteer, and Donor. These three women brought together an amazing group of past and present supporters to reminisce about our founding and connect this community to our future.