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    Spotlight: 826 Valencia

    2020 will forever be one for the history books.  When I reflect on this past year, it comes together in my mind as a collage of stories, and I’ve been constantly reminded of the power storytelling has to create momentous change.  “Writing is agency” and that ethos inspired our 2020-21 SMPS SFBAC Gives Back partnership with 826 Valencia, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting under-served students by channeling their voices through creative writing, leadership training, and in-school programming.  With Giving Tuesday this past week, we wanted to spotlight this amazing nonprofit that nurtures future generations of business and cultural leaders.

    “It was a challenge, but meeting individual students’ needs is the core of what we do.  Coordinating supplies, connecting with families… we know we have to fill the gaps,” says Sarah Bruhns, Development Coordinator at 826 Valencia.

    Recognizing that the shuttering of public schools exacerbated an already growing education opportunity gap, the 826 teams moved quickly to connect with isolated students and coordinate technology access support.  Incredibly, they were able to assess the needs of more than 200 families in the Bay Area.  Within two weeks of the March 2020 shelter-in-place order 826 Valencia had adapted to the unprecedented challenges and was providing writing and leadership workshops.  Within one month they had completely pivoted to online programming and tutoring and have provided more than 450 hours of online programs. Nearly 800 students have access to 826 Valencia services.

    The pandemic has highlighted systemic inequalities and has brought with it three compounding crises. As we navigate the more obvious health and economic crises, a third crisis is emerging of which many parents are already aware: an education crisis.  As Sarah points out, “today, with our students facing educational inequities exacerbated by COVID-19, having access to individualized support with writing and authentic opportunities to make their voices heard is more important than ever.”  The 826 Valencia teams are striving to reduce learning losses and catch our kids before they slip through the cracks and SMPS SFBAC is pleased to be supporting them in that mission. 

    Kathryn Hussein is the SMPS SFBAC Giving Back Liaison and a Proposal Writer for CSW/Stuber-Stroeh Engineering Group, Inc.

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