I grew up in a tiny and overcrowded, but loving and hard-working, low income immigrant home in the Mission District. Despite having only attended school through 8th grade and speaking no English, my parents did everything they could to ensure that I had access to a good education. I remember how much they celebrated that they had successfully advocated for me to attend Buena Vista Elementary, a Spanish immersion school, but lamented that they could not afford to provide me with additional educational enrichment opportunities. Fast forward to today, I could not be more proud to be completing my first year as Executive Director at Horizons at SFFS which works to close the opportunity gap for students from low income backgrounds.
So many thoughts and feelings rush to mind as I reflect on my first year: I’m proud that Horizons pivoted to offer remote summer programming for 117 students, but I am crushed that nearly 75% of Horizons families experienced job loss. I’m excited that Horizons has expanded to provide more robust year round supports, but I am worried that Horizons students have not received in-person instruction since last March. The pandemic and the conversations lifted by the murder of George Floyd reinforced what I already knew: the work that Horizons at SFFS does is crucial to ensure a better future for all of us.
Educational equity is the assurance that every student has access to the resources and academic rigor necessary to their growth regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background or family income. When we work towards educational equity, we work towards a better collective future.
- Improves our communities. An equitable education system helps all students develop the knowledge and skills they need to be engaged and become productive members of society. Our communities benefit from inspired and confident individuals who have the opportunity to pursue their talents and interests.
- Challenges the imbalance of power and privilege. The U.S. has a long and tired history of maintaining the power and privilege of the select few – usually white, male, upper-class citizens—by limiting access to education. Advocating for educational equity challenges this imbalance; implementing it can actually help redress the injustice.
- Strengthens the economy. There is a direct link between high-quality education and a healthy economy. Education has the power to improve individual lives and uplift entire communities by strengthening the overall economy. True educational equity has the potential to reduce poverty nationwide.
(Adapted from: GreatSchools Partnership.org)
Over the last few months at Horizons at SFFS we have been asking ourselves, what more can we do? What steps can we take to further dismantle roots of oppression in our program, our community, and beyond? To that end, we have expanded avenues for parent voices in program decision making, we are prioritizing racial diversity and connection to our students’ lived experiences in our board member search. We have started difficult conversations about race, privilege and the way we may accept systems that are deeply counterproductive to equity as the norm. In these conversations, we have started to learn about Community Centric Fundraising, a fundraising model that is co-grounded in racial and economic justice.
Our upcoming virtual benefit on February 11, at 6:00 p.m., We Are Made of Stars, will be our first venture towards this model. The hour-long program will be an opportunity to learn more about Horizons’ work and impact, as well as a celebration of the limitless potential of Horizons students.
The virtual event also strikes a particularly special note with me as it will officially mark the completion of my first year with Horizons at SFFS. I hope that you will join me on February 11 and that you will walk away feeling as inspired as I do to continue working towards educational equity. Together we are building a better future.