New Day for Learning Passes Torch on Community Schools: Next Chapter Opens

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On February 21, New Day for Learning will be doing what we were funded to do three years ago – passing the torch to the San Francisco Unified School District so that the Community School work can be fully institutionalized within the district.

The SFUSD will be creating a first-ever position to direct a Community School strategy.  The work inside the district will build on the foundation we have created together.

When I began this work with only a 3 year grant timeline,  I never expected that there could be so much progress in such a short period.


Celebration of the Community School Work in San Francisco!

In order to honor the accomplishments of New Day for Learning and to share its future plans, the SFUSD is having a celebratory event on February 14 (yes, it’s Valentine’s Day) from 3pm to 5pm in Nourse Auditorium at 135 Van Ness.  Richard Carranza will be a featured speaker.  Everyone who supports this work is invited to attend.

Please RSVP to

We Are Proud of the Work We Have Done Together

  • Introducing the Community School strategy to stakeholders in San Francisco’s education, social service, funding and civic community.  Community Schools are now a centerpiece of the city’s education reform efforts.  New Day’s work has included organizing conferences and making presentations to dozens of diverse groups throughout the City.  We have enlisted experts from around the country to brief policymakers, parent and community organizations, city departments and SFUSD staff; and widely disseminated written materials on SF’s emerging Community School approach.
  • Defining and developing the key elements of the city’s Community School vision and model.  Hundreds of colleagues have been involved in various work groups and committees, including  a Community School Council developed from a New Day design committee and comprised of diverse representatives from city agencies, CBO’s, parents groups, and key folks within the SFUSD from central office and school sites.  Work groups with a cross-section of public and private service providers have developed both an expanded learning model (which we called “linked-day”) and a behavioral health model (which we called the “whole school” approach.) for Community Schools.  Coming out of this work is the definition of the 5 core elements and the 98 specific benchmarks of the SF Community School model.
  • Providing technical support and leadership in making Community Schools a signature of the School Improvement Grant (SIG) process.   When 10 SF schools were identified by the federal and state governments as “persistently low performing,” SFUSD asked New Day to use the foundation we had created and develop a Community School portion for the School Improvement Grants (SIG).  The grants defined and allocated funding for extended learning, parent engagement, community engagement, behavioral health, and a Community School Coordinator in every SIG school.  New Day provided technical assistance for creating this new and crucial position within the SFUSD.
  • Cultivating the development of the Community School approach in the 5 initial “early adopter” schools and in 7 additional School Improvement Grant schools in the Superintendent’s Zone.  We have been busy providing technical assistance at the site level for the past 3 years – working with leadership teams to facilitate planning, designing programs and structures, and brokering partnerships aligned with school goals.  Developing the role of Community School Coordinator, which our city-wide conference targeted as the linchpin of the Community School model, has been an important focus of our work.  This has included developing and facilitating a learning cohort for the Coordinators for the past year.
  • Facilitating the development of a new level of CBO-SFUSD partnership.  The 25 member CBO-SFUSD Advisory Committee has provided a monthly forum for almost 3 years for information exchange, identifying barriers to partnership and the development of new strategies and tools to deepen community-school partnerships.  We are pleased that a new process for co-planning between schools and CBO’s will be introduced district-wide in the coming year.   A pilot study of the new partnership tool is being conducted by New Day’s amazing social work intern, Kendall Jones, in 3 SIG schools.   A video on the exemplary partnerships of some of the participants in the Advisory Committee is in the works – look for it.
  • Building a city-wide focus on summer learning as a key component of education reform by initiating and convening the Summer Learning Network, comprised of over 70 organizations.  The Network has developed a common set of goals for summer, produced 3 professional development conferences involving over 500 practitioners, promoted and gotten passed a city-wide summer learning policy by the Board of Supervisors, and facilitated a resource exchange that has included everything from free MUNI for summer programs to free admissions to the California Academy of Sciences.

A New Commitment to Community Schools in San Francisco

In this photo: Summer Learning Network press event to bring public attention to the achievement gap caused by summer learning loss.

Today the words “Community School” (rarely heard in San Francisco before New Day adopted community schools as its driving strategy) echo throughout the city as stakeholders of all kinds plan their approach to school and community improvement.

The new federal Promise Neighborhood grant in the Mission District, one of only 15 planning grants in the country, centers on the Community School strategy.  The grant would probably not have been awarded unless Community Schools were a focus of the District’s efforts to turn around its lowest performing schools.  In addition, the Choice Neighborhood federal grant that will be used to rebuild housing in Bayview includes 2 new Community School Coordinators – making the San Francisco total of Coordinators equal 14.  And San Francisco is receiving national recognition for making Community Schools a core part of its SIG-funded education reform strategy.  This fall, San Francisco’s Deputy Superintendent was invited and agreed to join the national superintendent’s advisory committee for the Coalition for Community Schools.  And the National Summer Learning Association has targeted SF’s Summer Learning Network as an important strategy that should be replicated in communities throughout the country.

Lessons Learned and Challenges Moving Forward


The lessons learned have been numerous and will guide the future work: The importance of building our reform models from the ground up; the significant changes in approach that must be made by both CBO’s and schools to foster true community-school partnerships based on mutual goals; and the magic that an inspired and motivated principal can bring to the work of creating a true school community built on shared leadership.

Challenges as we move forward with the community schools work will include:

  • Integrating what are now seen as the “academic” and “non-academic” elements of reform into a holistic approach to learning.
  • Sustaining and expanding the structures to ensure that community organizations, families and students are welcomed as equal partners in the development of our Community Schools at both the site and systems level.
  • Prioritizing and allocating the time to plan and learn how to base our work on a shared vision for educating our children and youth.

For Further Information

If you would like further information, copies of the numerous documents, brochures on SF’s community schools, and a copy of a final report on the work of New Day for Learning, contact the Superintendent’s Zone talented Community School leaders who will carry the ball with great dedication and skill:

  • Leticia Hernandez, Director of Family and Community Engagement (Mission Zone) –; and


Emily Wade-Thompson, Director of Family and Community Engagement (Bay View Zone) –

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