Our volunteer program began in 1963, when Gretchen de Baubigny visited a classroom in San Francisco’s Western Addition to read aloud to students. Not long after, she was walking through a park and a young boy ran up to her exclaiming that she had visited his class and asking when she was coming back.
That chance meeting made Gretchen wonder, “What if community members visited classrooms regularly to help students and teachers? Could we provide students with extra one-on-one attention that will help them excel?” The answer was and remains a resounding, “Yes.”
Gretchen founded San Francisco School Volunteers, our city’s first nonprofit dedicated to engaging community members as partners in public schools. We continue to provide a path for caring adults to volunteer with students through an array of classroom programs.
In 2009, School Volunteers merged with the original San Francisco Education Fund, which was founded in 1979 in response to the decimation of public school funding brought on by Proposition 13.
The S.H. Cowell Foundation recognized the peril to San Francisco’s schools and the trustees decided to build a bridge between the school bureaucracy and the private sector with the sole function of benefiting teachers, students and school sites. Our grantmaking continues today through our educator grants and partnership with Fund for Teachers.
In 2015, the Maisin Scholar Award joined the San Francisco Education Fund, building on our mission to support San Francisco public students. The award program was launched by The Alexander M. and June L. Maisin Foundation in 2000, with the first 50 scholarships of $4,000 each, for the Class of 2001.
Alexander Maisin was of Russian Jewish descent and grew up in Harbin, China, where his family had moved to escape discrimination and violence. He fled China before the beginning of World War II, and moved to San Francisco, coming as a new immigrant without any funds, and worked as a longshoreman, loading and unloading ships in the San Francisco harbor. He invested his savings into a house, then another building, eventually owning commercial and residential properties throughout San Francisco.
Today, the San Francisco Education Fund channels community volunteers and financial resources into schools to achieve its goal of improving student success in the San Francisco Unified School District.