When you talk about a Promise Neighborhoods Grant in San Francisco, the operative word is “neighborhood.” On a recent Saturday morning, dozens of Mission District families took part as the Mission Promise Neighborhood launched its $30 million ED grant.
John O’Connell High School was the site as the Mission Economic Development Agency and over 30 of its partners hosted a three-hour festival that included a family-resource fair, entertainment, food and giveaways to let the whole community know about a grant to help families of students at César Chavez Elementary School, Bryant Elementary School, Everett Middle School, and John O’Connell High School.
While other federal education grants focus on academics, the Promise Neighborhoods Grant helps children and families focus on academics while also providing wrap around support to minimize the impact of a difficult economic environment on learning in the classroom.
“Our program is based on the strong connections between academic achievement and a family’s economic status,” said Victor Corral, interim director of Mission Promise Neighborhood at the Mission Economic Development Agency.
The agenda included remarks by U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who addressed the importance of the Mission Promise Neighborhood grant. “It’s a model for our country, and it works because it’s giving local leaders more resources,” Pelosi said.
The White House was represented by Marco Davis, deputy director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. “The Promise Neighborhoods Program is an outstanding example of engaging all aspects of a community,” Davis said.
“This is really our first opportunity to announce [the grant award] to the community at large,” said Jillian Spindle, director of development for the Mission Economic Development Agency. “That’s why we’re at the high school. We wanted a lot of families in attendance.”
The day’s theme of the local community, local leaders and local agencies working together to make education better may have been best summed up by Interim Director Corral, who said, “We’re doing this not for the community, but with the community.”
Joe Barison is the director of communications and outreach for ED’s San Francisco Regional Office.