Leataata Floyd: The Little School Leading the Way
Under the leadership of Principal Eric Chapman and his dedicated team, Leataata Floyd Elementary School (LFE) in Northwest Land Park has been paving an innovative path for Title I schools in the Sacramento City Unified School District. Schools which serve large numbers of economically disadvantaged children such as LFE – whose students reside in the public housing units of Marina Vista/Alder Grove – are eligible for supplemental federal funding under Title I, intended to provide students with a equitable opportunity for a high-quality education. Given the many challenges that such schools face, including families struggling with poverty, racism and isolation and communities and school districts that are chronically under-resourced, students are subjected to persistent and growing disparities in educational and life outcomes.
LFE has made hard-fought progress over the past several years in providing a safe and healthy learning environment for its students, through pioneering the community schools model in our region. Community schools are hubs that bring educators, families and many community partners together to help students and families succeed through a focus on the whole child and creating positive conditions for learning and support for families and communities. Valley Vision has been one of LFE’s partners in delivering the School2Home Program, which is bridging the Digital Divide and Achievement gap through equitable access to technology, as part of an overall neighborhood transformation strategy. This work is supported by the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), which has invested more than $250,000 over the past four years, through a partnership with LFE, the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), Sacramento County and the City of Sacramento.
On February 7th, Valley Vision, with generous support from the Stuart Foundation, convened a learning and funders forum with LFE, CETF, the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA), and others to showcase LFE as a community school, highlight the need for equity in our educational system, and explore public/private/philanthropic partnership opportunities to advance progress. The moral imperative for this work: we cannot leave our children behind.
The forum brought over 60 community partners, funders, and school district officials to Marina Vista. Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Councilmember Steve Hansen and SCUSD Trustee Lisa Murawski kicked off the forum with impassioned support for LFE’s efforts and voiced their intentions to champion LFE, the community and the partners – saying they are “all in.” The Mayor noted the intention to ensure that communities such as Marina Vista/Alder Grove are connected to the inclusive growth investments and initiatives through new Measure U funding.
Insights from Stuart Foundation’s Sophie Fanelli and Koua Franz, CETF Board Chair Barbara O’Connor, and SHRA Development Director Tyrone Roderick Williams set the stage for why are investing in LFE and this community. Anna Maier of Learning Policy Institute (LPI) showed how community schools are effective school improvement strategies, emphasizing that LFE is implementing all four of the full-service community school pillars that LPI has identified as foundational in their research.
Special guest, Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade, Associate Professor at San Francisco State University and the founder of Roses in Concrete Community (charter) School shared the story of how he started the school in Oakland and emphasized the need for systemic educational changes that are rooted in love:
“Self-love and love of one’s community needs to be the core component of curriculum and a central value for all staff. Community schools are birthed out of necessity to respond to conditions not built on love. Racism, classism and systemic oppression are hateful and violent, and these systems took centuries to build. We have the power to change the conditions in one generation, but we have to start telling the truth about our history.”
He continued by saying, “Equity isn’t a title change, department creation or job promotion type of problem. It requires full commitment from everyone involved to radically change the current outcome.”
His remarks were followed by a powerful panel discussion between Dr. Duncan-Andrade, Principal Eric Chapman, and Superintendent Jorge Aguilar, about poverty, racism, inequity and opportunity, and the promise of community schools and whole child learning. There was agreement that if conditions aren’t right, there will be no learning, and that love for the children must be at the center of all.
LFE is getting many things right and we will build on the momentum generated from the Forum, where partners and funders were already brainstorming about opportunities and strategies to fulfill the community school model at LFE and see how this approach can be brought to scale across the School District and beyond. As a start, the Stuart Foundation, Learning Policy Institute and the Opportunity Institute are providing additional information about partnership-driven funding opportunities that can add resources for community schools and help mitigate institutional funding challenges. Be on the lookout for more news!
The week following the learning and funders forum, Valley Vision and Leataata Floyd Elementary School attended the School2Home Leadership Academy, a three-day conference held by the California Emerging Technologies Fund. The conference organized time for attendees to meet with their congressional representatives and advocate for School2Home, a program that works to close both the Achievement Gap and the Digital Divide in low-performing schools throughout California. Leataata Floyd Elementary and Valley Vision were recognized as leaders for the School2Home/Neighborhood Transformation Plan, whereValley Vision managing director, Trish Kelly, and Principal Eric Chapman shared the outcomes of the learning and funders forum to encourage other School2Home programs in addressing inequities in the education system through whole child education and community partnerships.
Yzabelle Dela Cruz is a Valley Vision Project Associate contributing to the Innovation & Infrastructure and Leadership & Civic Engagement impact areas.
Valley Vision’s Trish Kelly also contributed to the writing of this blog.
Farm-to-Fork LIVE Event Series: Women on the Line
Sometimes I love my job. I always appreciate the work we do, but, let’s face it, some moments are more rewarding than others.
Women on the Line, Valley Vision’s second Farm to Fork Live event, was one of those very rewarding moments. On February 1st at the Milagro Centre in Fair Oaks, three women chefs and business owners, each in a different place in her career, had a candid conversation with an audience of about 75 people about what it is like to be a woman in the culinary world. The raw emotion and power in the room was palpable.
N’Gina Guyton, owner of South Restaurant; Bobbin Mulvaney, owner of Mulvaney’s B&L; and Casey Shideler, Executive Chef at Taylor’s Kitchen participated in this moving and informative panel that touched on a variety of topics regarding the challenges of being a woman in the culinary industry. Local TV personality Bethany Crouch facilitated this deeply personal, very “real” dialogue, leading the conversation through topics ranging from starting a business and a career in a male-dominated field, to gaining acceptance and recognition as a professional, to sexual assault and battles with mental health.*
This no-holds-barred conversation was filled with powerful anecdotal stories both shocking and humbling. N’Gina recounted being told motherhood, rather than expanding her successful food business, should be her focus. A bank loan officer inquired, “But who will be home to take care of your kids?” as he was denying her a loan. Bobbin reminisced about her struggles establishing her career while not only raising a young daughter and balancing her passion for business but in the face of several bouts with breast cancer. Casey recounted her complicated start and rise in the culinary world including facing gender stereotyping such as when an interviewer asked her marital status, and then followed up with, “So is it safe to say you’re married to your job?”
Audience members sat nodding their heads, signaling that the types of experiences being shared happen across sectors.
But there was also hope and advice for women entering the field. Although panelists toiled to get by – from Bobbin, who spent years helping pay a mortgage from a box-lunch catering business to N’Gina, cooking on an electric stove in a closet to cater an event, and Casey, who found her way to an executive chef position after years of pushing through the ranks – women entering the field were told to be courageous, do whatever it takes, and not give up. More experienced women were told to encourage them.
“Being a good mentor is more the just telling mentees what we know,” said Bobbin Mulvaney, who mentors both high school culinary arts programs and culinary arts workforce training programs for formerly homeless women. “We need to support them where they are and be available to help our sisters when they ask for what they need when they need it.”
Having had the opportunity to be on both sides of the equation – having both received mentorship from some amazing women as well as having opportunities to provide mentorship to younger women – I appreciated Bobbin’s point about letting people grow at their own pace. As well, in this time of such incredible division in our society, it was moving and encouraging that each of these women was willing to share their experiences and hope so openly and freely. Thank you to each of them and to everyone who participated in the conversation.
*For more information about the work being led by the Mulvaneys and others to help address mental health issues among restaurant workers, Click Here. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Robyn Krock is a Valley Vision Project Leader managing food, agriculture, and broadband initiatives.
Project Associate Emma Koefoed also contributed to this blog post.
Opportunity Zone Forum Recap: An Important Conversation
On Friday, February 1st, Sacramento Councilmember Eric Guerra (District 6) kicked off the Capital Region Opportunity Zone Forum, which Valley Vision created in partnership with the Councilmember’s office, the City of Sacramento, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and Power Inn Alliance.
The 200+ participants were next greeted by Meaghan Stiles and Matthew Ceccato of Congressional Reps. Matsui’s and Bera’s offices, respectively, highlighting the degree of interest at both local and federal levels in this still-emerging initiative to increase the capital available to the nation’s most underserved communities. Special guest speakers included Jimmy Stracner, Regional Administrator for Region IX of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Chris Dombrowski, Chief Deputy Director for the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz).
Because Opportunity Zones (OZs) are so new, with guidelines still being defined federally, the Forum opened with a primer – what OZs are, why they were created, and how they work – from Scott Syphax (Syphax Strategic Solutions) and Kevin Wilson (Novogradac and Company), both of whom are working extensively in OZs at the national level.
Following that introduction and level-setting, the Forum shifted to focus on three key “implementation issues” for OZs: first, what kind of investments seem best-suited to OZs; next, the importance of understanding community perspective and potential impacts on OZ residents; and third, local and state government actions that could improve the appeal of OZ investing in our region.
In the lead-off “Model Projects” discussion, Liz McFarland of Greater Sacramento demonstrated the beta version of an online mapping tool that will be available on their website by the end of this month. As well, Denton Kelley of LDK Ventures and Tyrone Roderick Williams of SHRA each summarized their current views of the most effective uses of OZ investments – which is unlikely to be in affordable housing, as both speakers agreed, despite the statewide housing crisis.
In the “Community Impacts” discussion, Ricardo Flores of LISC and Ky-Nam Miller, from San Diego and Oakland respectively, joined Clarence Williams of Sacramento-based California Capital. The three highlighted the imperatives of inclusive, community-based economic strategies, specifically in order to avoid possible gentrification of OZ neighborhoods in ways that could displace the very residents that OZs are trying to aid.
Finally, the Forum turned to the important roles of both state and local governments in supporting communities and creating an environment in which OZ investing occurs successfully – and consistent with State and local goals. Chris Dombrowski, of GO-Biz, emphasized the priority that the Newsom administration has placed on OZs early in the Governor’s term. A discussion panel of Fred Silva (California Forward), Robert Burris (Solano EDC and CALED), and Michael Jasso (City of Sacramento) then identified a host of ideas, like increasing local capacity through state assistance, developing a pipeline of projects that align with community objectives, and layering in other economic development tools such as Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts (EIFDs).
Without a doubt, Opportunity Zones can raise topics and concerns that can be hard to discuss – such as the fact that the federal government created no “guardrails” or requirements for transparency in OZ investing; concerns about exclusion and disempowerment of the very people that OZs were created to help raise up; and the potential for displacement of people already living in OZs as OZ investment flows in.
But also without a doubt, Opportunity Zones have the potential to shape the characters of our communities for decades to come, and for that reason it’s all the more important to have these hard conversations early, often, and inclusively. Valley Vision and its partners are committed to working hard on OZs, particularly to bring the different stakeholders in OZs together on these tough issues.
If you missed the Forum on Friday, you can catch the livestream feed on Councilmember Guerra’s Facebook page. You can also review the Forum Powerpoint presentation, the real-time audience polling results, and many more relevant resources on Valley Vision’s Opportunity Zones resource page. To keep up with Valley Vision’s work to advance livability in the Sacramento region, subscribe to our Vantage Point email newsletter!
Yzabelle Dela Cruz is a Valley Vision Project Associate contributing to the Innovation & Infrastructure and Leadership & Civic Engagement impact areas.
Valley Vision’s Chloe Pan and Meg Arnold also contributed to the writing of this blog.
What Is the ‘Fix’ for the Capital Region’s Digital Divide?
On January 23, the Sacramento Public Library along with Valley Vision and the City of Sacramento Office of Innovation and Economic Development, co-hosted many state, regional, and local partners at the beautiful Tsakopoulos Library Galleria for the region’s first ever Digital Inclusion Summit. The purpose was to define digital equity for the Sacramento Region, identify barriers that lead to the Digital Divide, and create meaningful measurement tools. The Summit included a keynote speaker, lightning talks from 13 presenters, and group goal-setting for regional next steps.
We kicked off with Alex Bahn, Digital Equity Manager of San Francisco’s Office of Digital Equity, sharing the steps and takeaways from the San Francisco Digital Equity Playbook. The Playbook, a pilot program produced by his office, was intended for agencies serving the most vulnerable populations at risk of being digitally excluded. The office conducted focus groups and interviews at housing and workforce centers which identified barriers around digital technology adoption: feeling embarrassed, time constraints, affordability, fear of technology, language barriers, disabilities, and lack of access. By identifying the barriers, Alex and his team were able to create a playbook of resources for populations to overcome being digitally excluded in a world of increasing digitization. The more surprising takeaway (given proximity to the Silicon Valley) was the comparison of San Francisco to Sacramento in our current status in addressing digital inclusion, and our need for greater collaboration to bridge the digital gap.
Next up, 13 lightning talks from organizations across the region working to advance digital inclusion. Speakers provided key information about their efforts in the continuum goal of closing the digital divide:
- Jared Amalong – Sacramento County Office of Education: Equity in K-12 Computer Science Education;
- Julius Austin – Sacramento Promise Zone/SHRA: Sacramento Promise Zone – Collaboration;
- Patrick Becknell – Mutual Housing California: Digital literacy inclusion and access in affordable housing;
- Erika Bjork – Sacramento Metro Chamber: Trends in digital skills workforce in the region;
- Markus Geissler – Deputy Sector Navigator of ICT-Digital Media for the Sacramento region: Beyond Computer Science: Explore all ICT Disciplines;
- Navneet Grewel – Yellow Circle: Cybersecurity learning platform;
- Kandace Knudson – Sacramento City College: What it looks like to support access to academic technology (our student technology help desk);
- Cameron Law – Social Venture Partners of Sacramento: Aligning Funding toward digital inclusion/literacy;
- Azizi Penn – YouthArtCode: My experience with the summer program YouthArtCode;
- Stephanie Tom – California Department of Technology: Statewide Broadband efforts; state and local collaboration; private/public partnerships;
- Harsh Verma – ACM Sacramento Chapter: ACM for Education and Future Worlds Symposium;
- Alan Ware – AMW Design: Education strategies for underrepresented youth and other populations;
- Andrea Willis – Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE): USA Learns, a website that teaches ESL and helps prepare for U.S. citizenship.
The presentations were followed by goal setting led by Valley Vision. Breaking out into groups, the insight and ideas generated from each table were amazing! The following regional priorities were identified:
- Bring Community Together: Map regional gaps in digital inclusion. Create partnerships across sectors to connect community.
- Access and Competency of Use (Technical Skills): Acquire tech and computing resources, and the competency to use them.
- Affordability of Universal Access to the Community (Broadband)
- Asset Map: Create a database that serves as an asset map for a Regional Digital Literacy Initiative.
Attendees then signed up for working groups that will tackle these priorities. We are excited to push forward with these collaborative efforts to bridge the Digital Divide in the Sacramento region.
To know more about digital skills and our efforts with digital inclusion, please email Sonia Duenas, or subscribe to Valley Vision’s Vantage Point email newsletter.
Sonia Duenas is a Valley Vision Project Associate contributing to the 21st Century Workforce and Leadership & Civic Engagement impact areas.