SFUSD's nonprofit partner Spark* SF Public Schools raises $5 million to support learning, free meals

young female student does homework at a table

Thanks to support from foundations, corporations and individuals, the San Francisco Unified School District's nonprofit partner Spark* SF Public Schools has raised $5 million to respond quickly and creatively to the urgent needs of students and families brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March 16, SFUSD's Student Nutrition Services has served over 1.5 million students and families through its free meals program which provides breakfast, lunch, and supper at grab-and-go locations across the City. Through its home meal delivery program, SFUSD has provided 21,300 meals directly to students' doorsteps, and partnerships with community-based organizations also allowed SFUSD to ensure students had access to free, healthy meals while school buildings were closed.

After the City of San Francisco ordered residents to shelter-in-place, SFUSD pivoted to a Distance Learning Plan that provided continuity of learning for the 54,000 PK-12 students in San Francisco’s public schools. For students in 3rd to 12th grades, SFUSD distributed over 13,000 Chromebooks and 3,500 internet hotspots (which can be used by multiple people in a household).

The district's Department of Technology took a creative approach to deploy the devices to students, using methods ranging from school-site distributions, central pick-ups, mail shipments and even home deliveries to make sure they were reaching the students and families who needed them most.

Students in Pre-Kindergarten to 2nd grade received learning kits with school supplies, books, and other print- based materials to support their distance learning. Ultimately, SFUSD distributed 60,000 learning kits to its youngest students. The district made a text messaging program called Ready4K available to families free of charge, which sends learning and literacy tips to families to use with their children. SFUSD also created a daily, hour-long educational television show especially for the youngest students in the district so they could regularly see their teachers and the SFUSD community.

Families have been able to reach out to SFUSD for help using the district's Family Resource Link, which provides assistance in multiple languages. The district also set out on an ambitious plan to call every family in the district to ensure families have the resources and support they need. 

SFUSD continues to plan for what learning will look like in the fall. The district is aiming to provide every SFUSD student who needs it with a device and home internet access, and to support families and teachers with using technology to facilitate student learning.