I know that we’ve been a little quiet on the blog these last few weeks. Partly, I’ve been working on this fundraiser event. And partly, I’ve been working on some things for the program–some ideas about how to change the way we do things around here.

Don’t worry, students.
We are still going to bring that good learning to you. Never fear on that account.

It’s more about the extra things. We do a pretty good job of educating, but what happens to our students after they graduate? I don’t like the answer I keep coming up with. Because the answer in a lot of cases is, I don’t know.

As a program, we need to do a better job of tracking and supporting our grads after they finish–at least the ones who want us to support them. But there’s another aspect of the program that I tend to neglect and that is outreach. I regularly go out to agencies every few months and tell them about what we do. I tell them about Sarah and Alison and the other volunteers who come week-in and week-out to teach our students. And we get a lot of our students because of that outreach. BUT I don’t always make an effort to get us, as a program, out there into the community.

I used to joke sometimes that my definition of community is anyone who walks into our classroom. And that is true enough. But it’s also true that that’s kind of an easy way out for me. I think the reality out here in San Francisco with all the rapid changes that are going on right now means we need to keep widening who is in our community. They might not look like us or talk like us, but they live with us, and we need to know them, and, more importantly, they need to know us.

missionprotestI’m not going to get into the arguments here: the ones about X group of people coming in and taking over a neighborhood. There’s a lot of sadness about these changes, and I get that. But I don’t let myself get too low. My job is to help our students navigate the world they are facing as it is, not as it should be. It’s why I push them to get educated. I don’t want them to forget who they are or what they stand for or where they come from. I just want them to be able to state their cases intelligently. I want to help get them the tools to express who they are to people who don’t know them and who have had very different lives from them.

That’s huge! That’s importantisimo! That is the only way we will create a space for them, for their values in this crazy city we all live in.

And that’s a big reason why this Sunday we are doing a fundraiser that doesn’t have much to do with raising funds. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to sell some raffle tix and raise some money for the program. But the bigger reason for doing the event is to get outsiders to know about us, to grow our community, to get our great students to share that greatness with others.

So if you can, come on out on Sunday to the Philz in the Mission. It should be a great event, and you can say hello to some great students. (And as long as you are at it, buy a raffle ticket, too.) Here’s our Eventbrite page.

Oh, and in case you still need convincing: this is Francisco.

He’s a son of one of our favorite students. We work with him on his reading because he needs it. Because we want him to be able to tell others how great he is. He will be there on Sunday with his mama.