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Spark*SF nonprofit helps San Francisco schools lead the way in innovation


First published in the San Francisco Examiner

From time to time, I like to talk about San Francisco Unified School District’s resources, and today I want to tell you about a brand-new way we are garnering financial support and partnerships with organizations.

It’s called Spark*SF Public Schools.

What is it?

Spark*SF Public Schools is a nonprofit group composed of dedicated and dynamic professionals who are raising funds and advocating on behalf of the SFUSD. Their commitment is to make our Vision 2025 a reality.

We created Spark*SF Public Schools to serve as a central structure for investing directly in the big changes we need to make as we prepare our students to compete and thrive in today’s world. It is supervised by a board of seasoned and emerging public education advocates who are partnering with the SFUSD Board of Education, and me, to attract new funders. This board will also monitor how well we are using our private and philanthropic investments.

The structure we’ve set up for Spark*SF Public Schools will mesh with how we already work with long-standing community organizations that support volunteers and grants for SFUSD. And with this system for communicating, reporting and advancing investments and public support, funders will see a high degree of transparency and accountability for the investments they make.

Why are we doing it?

I don’t need to tell you that San Francisco and the country are rapidly changing. And we at SFUSD know that keeping up with how we educate our students in this climate is no small effort. And that includes funding new technology, new courses and new ways of teaching and learning.

These last few years, with the support of Mayor Lee and business and philanthropic partners, we have expanded and aligned private dollars to rapidly improve important initiatives such as Early Literacy; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education (STEM); College and Career Readiness; Leadership; and cross-sector partnerships like My Brother and Sister’s Keeper.

We don’t want to just keep up. We have already begun to lead the way into 21st-century education. And now, with Spark*SF, we have a new, direct way for donors support our schools in this transformation.

When will we see results?

Since this new organization was founded in August, we’ve received valuable donations totaling approximately $8 million. I continue to be thrilled to see so many organizations on board with our vision.

These dollars are going to our schools to provide more and more to our students: new technological devices, new programs, and student and teacher support.

For more information about Spark*SF Public Schools, go to