Mission District schools receive $500,000 grant

December 20, 2011 7:11:34 PM PST
Four schools in San Francisco's Mission District will benefit from a $500,000 federal grant. The money will help address the needs of students and the community where they live.

The money is part of the Promise Neighborhoods program. That federal program is very similar to another one that's very well-known called the Harlem Children's Zone created awhile back which has boosted student academic achievement dramatically.

Students in San Francisco's Mission District will soon be exposed to more than just math, reading and science. Students will be part of a community-based organization, providing them and their families with health care and other social services.

Luis Granados is with the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA). The non-profit will oversee the program.

"The idea is to have the services be fully integrated, be fully coordinated with the schools, not only for the students, but also for the parents," Granados said.

The Promise Neighborhoods program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. San Francisco is one of 20 cities nationwide to receive the grant this year in the amount of $500,000 for planning purposes only.

Over the next four years San Francisco is expected to get $24 million to implement it at four persistently low-achieving schools: Everett Middle School, O'Connell High School, Cesar Chavez Elementary School and Bryant Elementary School -- all in the Mission.

The grant would help create better health clinics within those four schools for entire families.

"We would love to see those expanded as well as more services at the elementary level, because we know for some students and families the school site is a much easier place for them to access those services than the community might be," San Francisco Unified School District spokesperson Gentle Blythe said.

The focus is on not only on the students, but on the parents as well. They would also get help on how to improve their financial standing through programs like these offered in the Mission.

"How to increase their savings, how to improve their credit, how to get a job, how to make sure they are employed," Granados said. "Research has shown that students are most successful academically if the family is financially stable."

The idea is to support children and their families to revitalize their struggling communities.

The Hayward Unified School District is one step ahead of San Francisco. They have already gone through the planning phase and are now beginning to implement the Promise Neighborhoods program at six schools in the Jackson Triangle neighborhood. Hayward will receive $3.2 million each year, over five years.

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