San Francisco schools: ‘Mentoring for Success’

Let’s face it: We live in a very busy city with increasing demands being placed on all of us — demands at work and home can pull us in many directions at once. Some families face even more challenges than others and sometimes, children whose parents have to work long hours and struggle to make ends meet are at a disadvantage.

This is exactly where San Francisco Unified School District’s Mentoring for Success program comes in.

What mentors do

There are currently 690 students being mentored at 43 schools across San Francisco because of Mentoring for Success, SFUSD’s school-based program that provides children with highly-qualified mentors who engage them in activities to build skills for school success, improved attendance, and increased self-esteem.

Our program provides a structured, consistent and purposeful relationship between a young person and a caring adult who provides acceptance, support, encouragement, guidance and concrete assistance to promote healthy child/youth development and student success.

According to a recent national report from Civic Enterprises and Hart Research, youth with mentors are more likely to be successful in school, leaders in their communities, and enter young adulthood ready to pursue opportunities for ongoing education and career choices.

Research has also shown that mentors can play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible decisions, stay focused and engaged in school, and reduce or avoid risky behavior like skipping school, drug use and other negative activities.

And now we’re doing even more

This year, Board of Education commissioners, in partnership with Mentoring for Success coordinators, and the SF Education Fund have reached out to people throughout The City to ask them to mentor. As a result, 25 more people have been trained to join the mentoring ranks so far this school year.

Also, this fall we launched Healthy Choices AmeriCorps, a brand-new resource for schools. Through this initiative there are now 47 staff members who have been trained to manage one-to-one and small group mentoring programs and individualized services for students. Their services aim to increase school attendance and positive social behaviors.

We do this because it works

Here at SFUSD, we focus on programs and strategies that work. Our mentoring program is part of an array of things we do each day to increase student attendance, teach positive social skills, and give students many opportunities to have a successful school experience. It’s working — mentors are already helping to reduce truancy and suspension rates among students who are most at-risk.

Join us!

January is National Mentoring Month, and we’re celebrating with a day of service! For those looking for a quick way to give back, we are putting together a National Day of Service activity on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

If you go

What: MLK Jr. Day of Service — Healthy Choices Day. Join us for healthy living activities — healthy food demonstrations, neighborhood beautification at MLK Jr. Park, and healthy give-aways. This project is administered by California Volunteers and sponsored by the Corporation for National Community Services.

Where: Third Street Youth Center and Clinic, 1728 Bancroft Ave.

When: Monday, Jan. 18, 10 a.m. — 2 p.m.

Please contact Erin Farrell for more information or to learn about becoming a mentor at (415) 242-2615 or

Richard Carranza is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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