Monday, October 19, marks the opening of Mission Graduates’ newest initiative, and the start of a unique opportunity to further impact the students most at risk or in need of support to be successful within San Francisco’s systemwide shift to distance learning.
It’s already been a year full of growth and opportunities, driven by necessity and strategic planning alike. For the first time, Mission Graduates’ after school, college access and success, family engagement programming engaged in remote academic support and enrichment. We were welcomed as the new Beacon Program provider at Bessie Carmichael School, adding another school to our growing community.
And now, Mission Graduates will coordinate and nurture a Community Hub in San Francisco’s SOMA district supporting Bessie students facing significant challenges to distance learning at home.
Heeding San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s call to support the remote learning needs and after school activities of the most at-risk students in the city, San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and community organizations, like Mission Graduates, identified the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) as a site for a Community Hub.
Community Hubs are designed to support children and youth that aren’t thriving with distance learning, with a priority of students from low-income housing; residents of public housing, and single room occupancy hotels; youth experiencing homelessness; foster youth; and English Language Learners.
Hub students will receive in-person support for children and youth, support with distance learning, access to WiFi and digital learning services, healthy snacks and meals, enrichment activities, outdoor recreation & physical activities, and mental health, wellness, and family support resources – all while following health guidelines from the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
In the truest sense of the word community, YBCA’s Chief Executive Director, Deborah Cullinan, opened the Center’s doors and set to work transforming galleries into “safe, inspiring, and digitally-connected for distance learning.” These gallery spaces accommodate the needs of distance learning, and will continue to be places for exploration, learning, and community mobilization.
“We are partnering with Mission Graduates, to center these students in our art-filled galleries, lobby, and outdoor spaces, offering a spacious and inspiring learning environment for those unable to engage in distance learning at home.”
Community Hubs organize students into “pods,” with each pod consisting of a maximum of 14 students previously identified by school sites as those who would benefit from in-person support the most. Mission Graduates’ Community Hub at YBCA will focus on assisting students from the K-8 Bessie Carmichael School, the only public school in the SOMA district.
Natalie Guandique, Mission Graduates’ Chief Program Officer, has enthusiastically overseen the planning and development stages of the Community Hub behind the scenes.
She says, “As an organization committed to supporting students in their educational journey, we know not all students are successfully accessing and engaging in virtual learning. Being an anchor hub in SOMA is one way we can support Bessie Carmichael students who are in most need of support to participate in their virtual classes, to engage in learning through a wealth of enrichment classes, and socially connect with their peers in a safe and supportive environment.”
Priscila Trejo-Martinez, one of our on-site professionals for the Hub, emphatically captured the optimism that Mission Graduates’ hopes to bring to this center. “My hope for the Community Hub is to welcome and serve our SOMA community members with a safe, growing, and learning space that brings countless opportunities for students to continue to thrive.”
In just a few days, the SOMA Community Hub will officially open. We are excited to connect with long-standing community partners, build new relationships with students and families from Bessie Carmichael School, and to continue serving our city, our communities, and our youth.