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Gardner Center to play key role in $30 million Mission District youth development initiative

January 31, 2013
Amy Gerstein
Amy Gerstein
A U.S. Department of Education grant to San Francisco includes the Gardner Center as its research and evaluation partner.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and city school distirict superintendent Richard Carranza recently announced that the U.S. Department of Education had selected San Francisco’s Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) to receive a $30M federal Promise Neighborhood implementation grant to create the Mission Promise Neighborhood. MEDA selected the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at the Stanford Graduate School of Education as the research and evaluation partner on the five-year project.

 The grant will allow MEDA to build a continuum of community services that bridge local nonprofits and public and private partners to work with kids and families to break the cycle of poverty and ensure every child can reach their full potential, from cradle to college to career.

 “Children must be safe, healthy, and supported by adults across an entire community to reach their fullest potential,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Against all odds, Promise Neighborhoods work to provide families and children with the support they need to help break the cycle of poverty that threatens too many of our nation’s communities.”

 The Gardner Center has a long history of conducting actionable research using integrated longitudinal data in San Francisco. Through the Youth Data Archive, its cross-sector research strategy, the Gardner Center has worked extensively with San Francisco Unified School District, City College of San Francisco and other key Mission Promise Neighborhood partners. These strong relationships will distinctly benefit the Mission Promise Neighborhood initiative.

 As research and evaluation partner, the Gardner Center will work with MEDA and its partners to evaluate how the continuum of services affects students and families in the Mission District.

 The Gardner Center will work with the designated national evaluator to design and manage the quantitative Mission Promise Neighborhood evaluation process, build capacity among Mission Promise Neighborhood partners and assist MEDA in creating standards and parameters around data indicators throughout implementation to learn what works. As part of this process, Gardner Center researchers will conduct interviews and focus groups with Mission Promise Neighborhood partners to gain on-the-ground perspectives.

 Gardner Center researchers will also help analyze and share findings from both the quantitative and qualitative analyses with the Mission community and the public at-large to support understanding and buy-in among stakeholders and transparency of the process and outcomes.

 “The Gardner Center welcomes this opportunity to expand upon our work in San Francisco to strengthen conditions and experiences for children and families in the Mission,” said Amy Gerstein, executive director of the Gardner Center. “We look forward to working with the Mission Promise Neighborhood team, as well as all of the partners on this essential project.”