CITY OF SAN
IMPROVING YOUTH DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES INCREASES SCHOOL SAFETY
Mayor’s Office of Children, Youth and their Families
1. Briefly describe the structure of the program.
Beacon Centers increase school safety both by their physical presence at school sites and through asset based youth development programming. Many of the Centers also provide intervention programs. The San Francisco Beacon Initiative is a public/private partnership between the city and other stakeholders to develop comprehensive, youth centered programs and strengthen community support of children and youth. The five current Beacon Centers transform school sites into community centers after school, during summers, and on the weekends and have a common goal to provide all San Francisco youth with a safe place to go, caring adults, constructive activities, and opportunities for meaningful community involvement. Each site has different programming according to the needs and resources of the surrounding community.
The Governance structure for the Initiative consists of a Steering Committee with the school district, the Mayor’s Office, private funders, and a non-profit intermediary which oversees Beacon development and quality. The Steering Committee coordinates Beacon core funding, oversees a comprehensive evaluation, and streamlines and unifies grant and data collection and reporting requirements. Collectively, the Centers provided activities for over 3,000 youth last year. Next year, the Initiative will expand by three more schools to eight Centers.
Currently there are five Beacon Centers -- three at middle schools, one at a high school and one at an elementary school. Each Center is managed by a lead non profit community based organization. The lead agency works with the school to manage and coordinate the Center’s operations. Each Center includes programming in five core areas: academic support such as tutoring or computer classes; health related activities; youth leadership training; art and recreational programs; and career awareness. Every site is required to have a plan that provides for the safety and support of program participants. Plans usually include dedicated staff from the community who receive ongoing professional development. Additionally:
The Community Bridges Beacon in the Mission neighborhood, which has the highest juvenile crime rate in the City, has just implemented a program called Community on Patrol which recruits and trains parents and community members to supervise hallways and yard areas during the school day and provide additional safety and supervision.
The Beacon Center in the Sunset neighborhood offers case management for juvenile offenders referred by the probation department and youth identified by the middle school and high school as at risk of entering the juvenile justice system.
In 1997, about one fifth of the total youth attending Beacons, or 658 youth,
received counseling or case management services, or participated in special support groups, such as conflict mediation or drug use prevention sessions.
2. When was the program created and why?
Beacon Centers were first funded in the Spring of 1996. The Initiative was the outgrowth of talks between the collaborative partners, who were seeking to find a model to coordinate myriad San Francisco youth programs and infuse them with a youth development focus. Youth development programming broadens the program focus from content to also recognize the importance of creating environments that consistently provide supportive relationships with adults and peers, and opportunities for youth to participate in meaningful and responsible roles. These practices have been shown to greatly influence the healthy development of young people.
3. How do you measure the program’s effectiveness?
The Beacon Evaluation is strong in theory, system level data sharing and tracking of individual youth outcomes. The evaluation, funded entirely by private funds, uses a Theories of Change approach. This approach is an innovative new way of evaluating complex community based initiatives. It measures short term, intermediate and long term outcomes for youth, adults, schools and communities. School district data on academic achievement, vandalism, violence and suspensions and expulsions are incorporated in the evaluation. The evaluation in its formative stages will be used as a planning and management tool for all levels of the Initiative.
4. How is the program financed?
Core funding for the Initiative is from a public private/partnership, to which the Mayor’s Office of Children, Youth and their Families (MOCYF) is the largest financial contributor. MOCYF distributes public funds from Proposition J, an initiative which increased the property tax for ten years to pay for children and youth services. Private funders contribute through a 13 foundation collaborative they have formed to coordinate private funding. Permanency is the goal for the eight Centers. The Juvenile Probation Department made a substantial one time contribution this year to expand the positive alternatives available to San Francisco youth. To date, the investment made by the MOCYF has been matched two times over by private contributions.
5. How is the community involved in the program?
A major defining feature of Beacons is the degree to which they engage families and communities in Beacon Center development and operational decision making. They employ several strategies to include community members – in governance, administration, and appealing program offerings. For instance, Beacon Centers all have community councils open to all interested parties, with a special focus on youth and parents. Last year, 216 community volunteers provided over 3,100 hours of community service, and the Beacons worked with 41 non-profit agencies to coordinate and offer services to youth. Also, Beacons strengthen linkages between school, home and community through educational activities, family support services and cultural activities for adults. Over 1,200 family members participated last year.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.