San Francisco’s Neediest Children See Outpouring of Support
San Francisco (March 27, 2020) - Spark* SF Public Schools, a non-profit dedicated to building private partnerships in support of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), has received more than $4.2 million in the past two weeks to support San Francisco’s most vulnerable children and youth during temporary school closures. Bay Area private equity firm Thoma Bravo has provided the largest single gift of $2 million.
“We are well on our way toward making sure our highest need children have access to free meals and continued learning during this crisis because of the generosity of donors like Thoma Bravo, the Someland Foundation and so many others,” said Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews. “We know the effects of this crisis will be felt for a long time and we are committed to doing whatever we can to support and educate San Francisco’s children and youth. We are truly grateful to everyone who stepped up so quickly to support our students in the beginning of this crisis and hope others will come forward to support in the coming weeks.”
More than 670 donors have contributed to support the distribution of free meals and continuity of learning. The largest single gift, a $2 million donation, was announced today by Thoma Bravo, one of the largest private equity firms in the Bay Area. Locally-based Managing Partners Seth Boro, Orlando Bravo, Scott Crabill and Holden Spaht have directed the gift to fund meal distribution to local San Francisco children and their families during school closures. In keeping with the firm’s focus on software and technology, the gift will also support the purchase of WiFi hotspots and other devices to provide equal access to online learning for SFUSD students.
“On behalf of all of Thoma Bravo’s Managing Partners, I am thrilled to support the San Francisco Unified School District’s efforts with this gift to Spark*. For the young people of San Francisco, access to food and technology is essential for their ability to continue to learn during school closures. It is our hope that this donation will help relieve some of the burden that this pandemic has placed on so many local students and their families,” said Orlando Bravo, Co-Founder and a Managing Partner of Thoma Bravo.
Someland Foundation, an ongoing partner with SFUSD, donated $1.1 million in support of food security for SFUSD’s students and families during the closure.
SFUSD temporarily closed schools on March 16 in response to growing concerns related to the coronavirus. SFUSD began serving meals on March 17 and, as a result of early donations, was able to add supper as a meal option in addition to breakfast and lunch and provide greater flexibility for families receiving the meals.
Earlier this week the school district announced that closures would be extended through May 1, underscoring the urgency of putting into place distance learning opportunities that are accessible to all 56,000 students, including additional support services for English learners and students with disabilities.
SFUSD was already facing an ongoing structural deficit before this crisis and had begun planning for how to reduce $60 million in services from its operating budget. With the onset of school closures, the district projects millions in new unfunded costs associated with providing meals and equipping students with digital devices and WiFi.
Spark* continues to seek donations to support SFUSD in delivering distance learning to a diverse student population. SFUSD estimates that nearly 4,000 students need devices and 4,500 need WiFi access.
“There is a lot of uncertainty at this time. We know that extended school closures create tremendous challenges for families,” said Gentle Blythe, President of Spark* SF Public Schools and a deputy superintendent at SFUSD. “Generous community members are offering something our city’s low-income children so desperately need –– a daily nutritious meal and a chance to continue their education.”
Donate to support the district’s services to students during the extended school closures.
See all Spark* SF Public Schools’ COVID-19 response philanthropic partners.
SFUSD is the seventh largest school district in California, educating over 56,000 students across 119 schools and providing 37,900 meals daily. Over 53% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch.
ABOUT SPARK* SF PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Spark* SF Public Schools is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to building private partnerships in support of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to ensure that each and every child receives the quality instruction and equitable support required to thrive in the 21st century. Spark* leverages philanthropic support to pilot new ventures, propel promising ideas, and scale proven practices across the district.