When I joined the BASIC Fund in January 2009 I already knew it was a special organization. I’d met our founder Jim McCarthy and the tremendous board he’d recruited, and was already impressed by the dedication of the staff. However, I was unprepared for the depth and scope of what we do and the effect it has on the families we help. In June of that year we were invited to attend several graduation ceremonies – we have between about 400 and 550 8th grade graduates each year – and I, along with our Program Director Carmen, attended a ceremony at San Francisco Academy in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. We had just two graduates there that year but I wanted to visit the school since we supported many of their K-8th grade students.
Carmen and I had brought certificates to hand to our graduates, to congratulate them on their accomplishments and to wish them luck with their high school careers. After the charming ceremony we made our way to the front to introduce ourselves to the principal, Marie France Ladine. Upon learning who we were she didn’t hesitate to grab the microphone and announce we were there – and the whole room erupted! Family after family came up to us, hugging us, filled with gratitude. As the new Executive Director I was completely overwhelmed.
And this hasn’t stopped. I am continually humbled by how hard our parents and schools work to provide for our students, and by how dedicated the staff here is. I am honored to work with such an incredibly dedicated and supportive board of directors, who are tireless in finding the funding necessary to support thousands of children in these wonderful schools each year. And, I’m amazed at the dedication of our students and their families – at the difference it makes to them knowing there is someone willing to help. These families are our inspiration.
There is no One Right Answer to getting every child into the best school for them. Our country, and more specifically the Bay Area, is a very diverse place. It will take all the pieces of the puzzle: rigorous charter schools, much improved district schools, and private schools to create a balanced system that is effective for everyone. Building that system will take time. However, these families don’t have time. The BASIC Fund provides an answer that works for these children today, right now. When a family finds a school that is a great fit for their child, where they are safe in a stable environment and they get a great education, they should have the option to send their child there. Each time we receive a donation we call a family that very day and provide a scholarship. We are truly the most immediate, effective way to help thousands of kids right now. I couldn’t be prouder, or feel more fortunate, to be here.
Thank you so much for visiting our new website! I will be bringing you more stories, perspectives and news on what’s happening with The BASIC Fund, with our schools and families, and in the parental choice movement as a whole. I would love to hear feedback from you, too! We are growing, and the work is exciting.
Until next time, go out and change the world!