New Day in San Francisco, Providence


The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation's New Day for Learning, which seeks to help communities improve existing plans to improve educational achievement through after-school programs, is underway. The foundation officially announced its demonstration sites - Providence, R.I., and San Francisco - this week.

Each community will get $500,000 over the next three years to help government agencies and community organizations better coordinate and execute plans to help students in the city's school districts.

"The Mott Foundation's support comes at a critical time and will allow San Francisco the opportunity to further leverage the extraordinary resources in our city," Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) said in a statement.

For those who follow juvenile justice reform, the plan is reminiscent of the MacArthur Foundation's Models for Change initiative: Find places that are already doing the right things, and help put them over the top. Both cities have graduation rates of over 70 percent, so by city standards they are doing something right.

"This is intended to be glue money," said Michelle White of GMMB, the firm Mott is using to handle communications on the project. The cities were selected because they had "political will and reform in place. Mott has no interest in being the only game in town."

The other eight candidates to become demonstration sites were Denver; Omaha, Neb.; St. Paul, Minn.; Chicago; Atlanta; Charleston, S.C.; Peekskill, N.Y.; and Mott's hometown of Flint, Mich. Those cities will receive technical assistance, according to White, but the details of what that entails are still being "fleshed out."

The San Francisco project, in a very strange turn of events, has landed itself a superstar tasked to spearhead it. Department for Children, Youth and Their Families Director Margaret Brodkin was fired from that post by Newsom last month, a move that drew much fire from the youth-work community. But Brodkin was not tossed out completely; she was assigned to spearhead New Day for Learning for the mayor, and took the job.