In the mid-1990’s The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce – chaired by Mr. Charles Schwab and Vice Chairman Lawrence J. Stupski – led the effort for business engagement in education. Through partnership with Schwab’s “School-to Career program,” and in partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), the Chamber recognized the significant need for business to lead the charge in supporting youth development.
With the hire of current President and CEO Bob Linscheid in 2012, the Chamber began a new era of intertwining business and education. With nine years of experience serving on the Board of Trustees for the California State University system, Bob has a deep understanding of the important role education and strong workforce development has on the health of the community and economy. Almost at the same time as the hire of Bob Linscheid, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and Board of Education began Vision2025 – a process of looking at how SFUSD would prepare their graduates to live, thrive and succeed in San Francisco and beyond. Along with a number of other key factors for success, knowledge and experience to navigate the “real world” and solve problems from the workforce were identified as necessary traits SFUSD students needed to possess upon graduating. Business engagement is integral to this accomplishment.
The Vision 2025 process, interest and support from the President of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and the growing demand for highly skilled workers and the incredible surge of technology, health, and innovative companies based in the San Francisco Bay Area, all served as the needed catalyst for business reengagement in education. The Chamber took the lead on outreach and engagement to Mayor Edwin Lee and Superintendent Richard Carranza to propose a collective impact project, serving as a unifying voice for education in San Francisco. Modeled on similar successful approaches in Los Angeles (LA Compact/UniteLA serving as an advisor to the SF Chamber), Boston (Boston PIC), and Cleveland (STRIVE), the Chamber proposed UniteSF for San Francisco.
Statement of Need
There are numerous entities in San Francisco running workforce development or education programs including non-profits, City departments and for-profit businesses. In addition, although there are a number of cross-sector partnerships they are not formalized or connected to each other, making it difficult for the business community to navigate numerous requests for support in terms of funding and work based learning opportunities for youth. The Mayor, the Chamber and the Mayor’s Education Council (which includes the Superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District and Chancellors and Presidents of Higher Education institutions in San Francisco) have agreed to establish a set of collective impact goals, creating new and improved ways for parties to collaborate and be impactful.
UniteSF represents a unified commitment by key San Francisco business, civic, and education leaders to support collaborative change in our approach to student’s preparation for college and the 21st century global workplace. Through discussion, convening, and data sharing, UniteSF supports the belief that:
- 100% High School Graduate for all San Francisco Students is necessary and possible
- That upon graduation, every student will be prepared for college or skilled certificate programs and has the access and support necessary to achieve higher education
- All students must have pathways to sustainable jobs and careers
To improve educational and career success for every child in San Francisco by bringing together cross-sector partners united around common goals.