The San Francisco Education Fund held its annual Back to School Gala – the first in-person Gala in three years – on October 12, 2022 at The Pearl. Community members, partners, and leaders – including SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne; President of the Board of Education Jenny Lam; and Executive Director of the Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families Maria Su – came together from across San Francisco not just to celebrate what makes us Public School Proud, but to rally behind our public-school students. Together, we raised nearly $500,000 to make excellent, equitable education the reality for our city’s students.  

An Evening Recap 

Following a rooftop cocktail hour, the evening’s programming began with a student performance from La Raza, a dance troupe from Thurgood Marshall Academic High School. Last year, students were awarded an Awesome Fund grant from the Ed Fund, allowing them to start the club. “With the Awesome Fund grant, we have been able to promote culture, bring in dance instructors, bring in immigration organizations promoting our rights, and overall build community,” said Daniela Funes, La Raza Club Advisor and Thurgood Marshall School counselor. “We’re really grateful and proud to harvest our community in a way that really allows our students to be empowered. With the popularity that [La Raza] gained last year, we went from 15 to 40 members in the last few weeks.” 

The five-minute performance was split into a traditional Guatemalan dance grounded in mother nature, and ended in a hip-hop performance.  

Daniela Funes, La Raza Club Advisor and Counselor at Thurgood Marshall, introduces La Raza  

Members of La Raza dance club perform a traditional Guatemalan dance 

After the performance, SF Ed Fund Board of Directors President Becky Karsh took the stage to welcome our guests, thank our sponsors, and set the stage for the night. “As a former elementary music teacher, I know the power of an in-person learning experience and the strength that schools play in creating strong networks and communities,” reflected Becky. “Access to strong public education is the foundation of our democracy, and part of the reason I wanted to get involved with the SF Education Fund is because of their mission to mobilize the community to support equitable access to a quality education for public school students.”  

Becky Karsh, President of the Ed Fund’s Board of Directors, welcomes guests  

Becky then introduced SF Ed Fund CEO Stacey Wang, who reflected on the collective work from the Ed Fund since she joined as CEO in June 2020, and how we have had to be especially nimble and responsive to needs of San Francisco students. She highlighted what this looks like in action, how the Ed Fund continues to mobilize the community, and our new priority schools strategy. Specifically, this year the Ed Fund identified four priority neighborhoods in which we will focus our time and resources: Excelsior, Mission District, Bayview-Hunters Point, and Tenderloin. While the Ed Fund will continue to offer programs and resources across the entire District, we will prioritize schools in these areas for first access to:  

  • Placement of community volunteers (tutors, classroom assistants, mentors, and Mindfulness instructors)  
  • Corporate support from a Circle the Schools partner (if not already matched)  
  • Eligibility to apply for mini grants for students and teachers  
  • For high schools: Maisin Scholar Award outreach, presentations and application support  

The Ed Fund chose schools in these four neighborhoods using a lens of equity, taking into consideration the levels of economic access, racial equity, and academic progress each neighborhood is experiencing. By focusing on schools that can benefit from our support the most, the Ed Fund will strengthen partnerships and continue the important work toward advancing educational equity. CEO Stacey Wang described how the Ed Fund is looking forward to deepening our impact for students, families and teachers in specific schools in these neighborhoods, and will be sharing more details on this new strategy soon.   

Stacey Wang, SF Ed Fund CEO, on stage  

The Ed Fund proudly unveiled two videos, the first of which was a look into three K-12 schools in the Excelsior – one of our four priority neighborhoods – to show the journey of students in this community. This video dives how the Ed Fund is partnering to support students every step of their educational journey through a variety of programs, so they can ultimately achieve their dreams.  

The second video featured Gilda, a first-generation student at U.C. Berkeley, who reflected on her journey of applying to college and her experience as a Maisin Scholar. Perry Im, Maisin Scholar Program Manager at the San Francisco Education Fund, shares how the Maisin team supports scholars with navigating through college beyond providing financial support. 

EThis evening also marked the inaugural presentation of the Glady Thacher Community Partnership Award. Named after our founder Glady, this award was designed to recognize a local organization that has partnered with the Ed Fund in deeply innovative ways in our collective work for students in San Francisco. The Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families (DCYF) was awarded this honor due to its proven commitment to making San Francisco a great place to grow up and always putting students first. Read the full announcement here.  

SF Ed Fund founder Glady Thacher reacts to the award in her honor 

Sherrice Dorsey (left) and Maria Su from the Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families accept their award on stage  

Following the award, Dr. Matt Wayne, SFUSD Superintendent, took the stage and delivered a powerful message: 

“Public education is the bedrock for our community and our society. Board [of Education] President Jenny Lam and I are working together to identify and update our vision, values, and our goals for student learning. We’re going to be laser focused on ensuring we’re working towards those goals and achieving SF Ed Fund and all of our collective vision towards education equity. To achieve that, we need to work in partnership with nonprofits, philanthropists, the city and great leaders.” 

Dr. Wayne speaks at the Back to School Gala 

Emcee and auctioneer Michael Tate leveraged the crowd’s energy following the exciting program to transition guests into the Fund-a-Need portion of the evening, in which we raised $179,000. Tate also announced lucky recipients of Bay Area Ultimate Experience Drawing Packages, including lucky recipients securing Napa and Sonoma wine tasting packages, ballet tickets, 49ers and Giants box seats, and fabulous dinners.  

Attendees raise their bid numbers during the evening’s Fund-a-Need 

Donors from Rakuten respond during the Fund-a-Need 

Thank you again to our sponsors who helped make this event possible and helped us get one step closer to making excellent, equitable education the reality for our city’s students:  

JaMel and Tom Perkins · Matierell · William & Susan Oberndorf · Dodge & Cox · Jones Family · Bain & Company · Daniel Danker · Dragoneer Investment Group · Katherine & Daniel Gillespie · Becky & Jason Karsh · RK & Heather Mahendran · Rakuten · Prasanth Boda · Joseph Ghobrial · George & Leslie Hume · James Kim · Dan & Jenny Lentz · Marie Lipman · Billy McRae · Will & Julie Parish · Rachel Patterson · Gordon Rubenstein & Dr. Krista Ramonas · Hilary & Darian Shirazi · Morgan Stanley · Lynda Sullivan & Mark Sachleben · David & Susan Tunnell · Jordan & Casey Coleman · Judy Grossman