Beacons for Change

Updated: Apr 5, 2019

By Matt Larson

The San Pablo Community Schools Initiative is joining the national movement

The recipe for a perfect education is constantly evolving. Everywhere you look there’s a new type of educational facility that is taking a new approach toward how we teach our children. San Pablo has recently implemented a Community Schools education model for their youth, which was done in collaboration with the West Contra Costa Unified School District. Community Schools are a nationally recognized strategy that combines strong academic instruction with an array of vital supports and services for both students and their families.

In May of 2017, the San Pablo City Council approved a full scale-up of the San Pablo Community Schools Initiative, dedicating more than $600,000 in funding to support personnel and program services to all six San Pablo schools. At the same time, the council also passed a resolution to join the Beacon National Network, thus strengthening the connection and coordination with the national Community Schools movement.

Beacon Centers are based on a 25-year-old model for community-school partnerships. Currently they only exist in Denver, Minneapolis, New York, and San Francisco (including San Pablo). They operate year-round programs which include during school, after school, and in the summer. These centers are supported by a citywide intermediary office that provides technical assistance and capacity building; they’re housed in schools, and each school has its own Beacon Director. “It’s built heavily on collaboration and teamwork here,” said Diana Baires, Beacon Director at Lake Elementary School. “We’re working on supporting adults here so that we can better support kids and their families.”