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The mission of the San Francisco Beacon Initiative is to work at the site and system level to transform public schools into youth and family-centered places of learning. Grounded in the community schools model/framework, Beacon Centers are committed to a cohesive, comprehensive, and collaborative approach that create pathways to lifelong learning and transformative experiences for youth and the adults who support them through advocacy, leadership, networking and program support.
The story of the San Francisco Beacon Initiative is one of intense collaboration among a large number of public and private funders, community based organizations, schools, and communities. SFBI began twenty years ago, when a group of visionary San Franciscans came together to form a planning committee to examine community school models from across the country. They were inspired by the very successful New York City Beacon school sites and imagined vibrant buildings open past instructional hours that would serve as hubs for enriching activities, expanding learning, and community building. They returned to San Francisco with the determination to capitalize on the underutilized value of school sites and subsequently the first Beacon Center opened in 1996. Over the next few years, Beacon Centers spread across San Francisco and are now in 8 priority neighborhoods.
The Beacon Program Model guides the programming that is offered at Beacon Centers by articulating four key areas of influence and their related goals. These activities not only supplement the school day but nurture the skills necessary to be successful in life and school. They close the gap between schools and community needs and broker strong partnerships through which more resources are available and services are better coordinated to achieve positive outcomes for our youth, families and communities. It is one of the first models of communities and schools working in partnership.