Imagine this: You are an experienced team manager bringing on 30 new team members. You are excited but you have done this before. The catch – they start tomorrow and you have been given just one day to prep the office for their arrival. This is the reality for San Francisco Unified School District’s 2,500+ teachers every year before the first day of school.
The beginning of the school year can be a challenging, rapid transition for teachers, who have just one day to set up their classrooms after a week of lesson planning and professional development. For hundreds of teachers, it is a pleasant surprise when they arrive to set up their classrooms and meet enthusiastic community and corporate volunteers from the Ed Fund who are there to help with nearly any task. SFUSD kicked off the 2023-24 school year yesterday, and throughout the week leading up to the first day of school, 166 volunteers rolled up their sleeves to provide nearly 800 hours of individual in-person support to teachers, helping them kick off the school year on a high note. Taking three-hour shifts, volunteers helped teachers at 24 SFUSD schools with various tasks around their classrooms, such as bulletin board setup, hanging up posters, rearranging furniture, organizing textbooks or a classroom library, painting, and general classroom cleaning. A couple principals needed help organizing their offices, so volunteers cheekily reminisced on being “sent to the principal’s office.”
In a full circle Ed Fund moment, Mission North volunteers (through the Ed Fund’s Circle the Schools program) helped to organize supplies for E.R. Taylor’s Create Joy grant, a $10,000 school-wide grant that was funded last Spring by the Ed Fund! Stefanie Eldred, a social worker at E. R. Taylor Elementary, applied for and received funding for a project called, “Increase the Peace.” This grant is funding three separate Tier-1 Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) interventions to meet the varied needs of the school’s large and diverse community. The Mission North volunteers unboxed and organized hundreds of wellness supplies so that each teacher could have their own “cool down corner” of their classrooms, which consists of fidget supplies, bean bag chairs and more. They also helped organize characters from the Kimochi curriculum, communication tools that allow children to navigate big feelings, which each teacher in the school will now incorporate into their curriculum – made possible through the Create Joy grant. The volunteers delivered the supplies to the teachers and each teacher was overjoyed and excited for what they can offer their students this year.
Back-to-School Setup is an annual Ed Fund event, and is always an incredibly fun and impactful opportunity for local volunteers to help teachers get ready for the new school year. The support with preparing classrooms gives these teachers a chance to spend the time they would’ve taken with tasks like unpacking boxes of new curriculum materials to focus on more important critical tasks leading up to students’ arrival.
“Do you know what it’s like to have a long day at work and then you come home to a sink filled with dishes?” reflected Mr. Sanchez, a third grade teacher at SF Community School. “[Volunteers] wiping down desks or refreshing my bulletin board is like doing those dishes for me after a long workday.”
Many Back-to-School Setup volunteers are enthusiastic employees from partner companies of the Ed Fund’s Circle the Schools program. Circle the Schools is a corporate volunteer program that brings the time, talent, and resources of local companies into our public schools. These are powerful partnerships benefitting both the schools and companies that participate. The Ed Fund helps facilitate 3-5 events per year per partnership, and Back-to-School Setup is one of the largest events, making a difference across dozens of schools and thousands of students in just one day. This year, we are thrilled to recognize and thank the 12 Circle the Schools corporate partners that recruited employees to volunteer for Back-to-School Setup Day: 6sense, AppDynamics, Cisco, Dropbox, Hanson Bridgett LLP, Mission North, NextRoll, PagerDuty, Rakuten, Salesforce, Turn/River Management, and Xoom Corporation. Special thanks to Salesforce employees who supported with Back-to-School Setup at 13 schools!
Throughout the 10 years of programming since the program’s inception, Circle the Schools partner companies have directly served over 100,000 students, volunteered over 45,000 hours and donated over $2.2 million in resources such as books, meals or supplies to students and teachers. We are so proud of our Circle the Schools partners and are always looking for more companies to join our community. If you are interested in joining into an incredible partnership with a San Francisco school, please reach out to Jenny Siegel, Director of Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Wishing SFUSD students, families and staff a wonderful school year ahead. To our Back-to-School Setup volunteers, we are extremely grateful for your time and generosity, and so are SFUSD educators. We appreciate you and we thank you!