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equity, inclusion, and belonging at friends

At San Francisco Friends School, we are committed to creating a community where all community members- students, families, faculty, and staff (or employees) are seen, heard, and their dignity respected. We embrace the truth that the process of building, nurturing, and sustaining community is ongoing, requiring thoughtful, tender attention, and deliberate, consistent engagement. 

We strive to listen hard, lean in close, and learn from the dynamic, diverse communities within and beyond the school. From the classroom to the Meeting Room,to the community that surrounds us in the Mission and beyond, our communities are varied, inclusive, and diverse. Teachers work hard both in and out of class to ensure all voices and perspectives are heard and celebrated. The result is a vibrant, challenging, and diverse community where all feel stretched, nourished, and engaged. We seek to build understanding with humility and engage with others within or beyond our walls with open spirits and minds. As a result, we walk away with a deeper understanding of ourselves, a stronger connection to one another, and a life lived with meaning and purpose.

Our diverse community helps us form healthy relationships with oneself and the world and challenges us to both learn and grow, essential components of the Quaker concept of continuing revelation, in which truth and understanding are continuously revealed to us through ongoing work and reflection. Children and families at Friends come from different cultural groups, a wide spectrum of economic circumstances, and many different neighborhoods throughout San Francisco. Being a diverse community offers us an opportunity—indeed an obligation—to learn from our differences, find common ground, solve problems together, check our assumptions and deepen our sensitivities to the feelings and experiences of others. 

Quaker schools are built on the foundation that every child has an inner Light, meaning that each member’s unique voice is valued, contributing to and strengthening the overall community. Whether our Parents Association is welcoming new families to affinity potlucks, 4th-Graders are reading in Spanish to their preschool buddies at Mission Head Start, or 8th-Graders meeting with state senators in Sacramento to discuss ways to support those experiencing homelessness, the thread that binds these experiences together is our philosophy and approach as a Quaker school. 

Our work and growth in the realm of inclusion and belonging has taken numerous forms throughout the two decades since our founding in 2022, including:

  • Middle School Affinity Groups / Alliance Groups / Justice Groups – Our long-running Middle School Affinity Groups program reflects our commitment to collaborative, student-centered, and developmentally appropriate DEI work at Friends. We have strived to be more specific about the ways we’re gathering as a Middle School on Friday afternoons, and so our faculty developed the following definitions in the Fall of 2022:
    Affinity Groups: The term affinity group is used when bringing together people who have an identifier in common, e.g. race, gender, religion, family status, etc. Affinity groups are for individuals who identify as members of the group and can speak to the experience of being a member of the group from the “I” perspective.
    Alliance Groups: The term alliance group is used when bringing together people who have a common commitment to an identifier group, e.g. race, gender, religion, family status, etc. Alliance groups are for individuals who identify as members of the group and/or as people who support and stand in solidarity with that group.
    Justice Groups: Justice groups follow similar protocols as the other groups, and are focused on a specific justice cause/topic, and oriented toward research, learning, empathy-building, and action. Areas of focus and engagement in a justice group are not directly related to aspects of identity (example: climate justice, food justice, etc.)
    Middle School students played a large role in determining which groups we should offer in each category, and our faculty has participated in continued professional development work, including work on “facilitative listening,” which we practice in both advisory and affinity groups. Facilitative listening asks that teachers listen deeply and carefully to students, and support and guide them gently, and with care.
  • 3rd/4th & Middle School Affinity Groups – Include groups for students who identify or have family members who identify as people of color, white allies, LGBTQIA+, Jewish, having learning differences, and/or having family differences.
  • The STEP Committee – A Committee of faculty and administration who identify and plan for interpretation and translation needs of our families. This Committee has implemented the translation of nearly all school email communications to families to Spanish and Chinese and arranges for live interpretation at parent/teacher conferences and school events. 
  • The Equity & Inclusion Steering Committee (E&I) – A Board-level committee comprised of members from various constituencies of the school community, E&I meets monthly and steers a variety of projects and initiatives intended to enhance the school's diversity efforts. The committee strives to both build and sustain a school community that is inclusive, safe, and nurturing for all.
  • The E&I Faculty Committee – This committee, comprised of teaching faculty, meet regularly and lead efforts on campus, including the Snack Program, which provides free snack, no questions asked, to any student who needs one. Representatives from this committee also serve on the E&I Steering Committee. 
  • E&I Parent Committee – A committee made up of parents who host parent affinity potlucks held for families with members identifying as LGBTQIA+, Black/African-American, monolingual Spanish, having learning differences, or adopted, to name a few. They also host monthly discussions called “At The Table,” which bring together parents and school staff to wrestle with various diversity-related issues and challenges; and Community Film Nights, which provide a forum for thought-provoking discussions among parents, staff, and other community members. Representatives from this committee also serve on the Steering Committee. 
Our Community:

• 55% students of color
• 26% students with tuition adjustment
• 6% LGBTQ+ families
• 4% single parents
• 4% adoptive families
• 10% Spanish-speaking families
• 30 zip codes represented

Our Mission:

At San Francisco Friends School, students learn in a community grounded in the Quaker values of reflection, integrity, peaceful problem-solving and stewardship. Our teachers challenge students with a dynamic curriculum that inspires curiosity, cooperation and hard work. We teach children to listen to all voices and to trust their own. We engage with the world around us with kindness and conviction, working toward the Quaker ideal of a caring and just society.