Inside SFS

Public Purpose Committee Introduces “Families for Families” Initiative

A conversation with Board of Trustees members Cathy Manshel and Libby Reder about the PPC and Family Association’s new initiative for the 2018-19 school year.

By Cathy Manshel and Libby Reder

The Public Purpose Committee (PPC), in partnership with the Family Association, has been planning a new initiative for the 2018-19 school year: Families for Families (F4F).  An offshoot of the Youth Humanitarian Initiative of the Strategic Plan, this effort will focus on the issue of families experiencing poverty and homelessness in the city of San Francisco.

The Public Purpose Committee, a committee of the Board of Trustees, is chaired by Cathy Manshel (Isabel, Seventh Grade and Mitchell ’16).  Together with new trustee Libby Reder (Hannah, Preschool), administrative liaison Maggie Weis (Head of Lower School), and several members at large, the PPC is organizing a thoughtful plan to help SFS families discuss and better understand the issues surrounding poverty and homelessness, and take responsibility for being part of the solution.

What exactly is the Public Purpose Committee?

CM:  The Public Purpose Committee works to connect the SFS community at the neighborhood, civic, and global levels. We help identify opportunities for SFS to be actively engaged in meaningful community partnerships that contribute to the public good, and to promote service and understanding of critical issues. It is our hope that our children will learn about social responsibility and stewardship through their own actions as well as ours. We also promote environmentally and socially responsible policies and practices within SFS.

Can you describe your skills, experience, or interests that facilitate your PPC work?

CM: I have been leading community engagement efforts and advocating for youth social service and education initiatives for most of my adult life. I appreciate that SFS has a strong history of prioritizing the value of thinking beyond ourselves, and working to connect our students to the important skills and opportunities to work collaboratively to make our communities the best they can be. I am excited to help SFS keep this value in focus as we define it and integrate it with other elements of the Strategic Plan being implemented, including STEAM and math curricula.

LR: I’ve been working in what could be described as Public Purpose jobs as long as I’ve been working - first in Washington D.C. on Capitol Hill, and later as an advocate within large corporations to improve and expand their social and environmental impact. More recently, I’ve been engaged with a national think tank, focused on the future of work and how we might expand the social contract to include more and different types of workers.

What is the Youth Humanitarian Initiative?

CM:  Ideally, our students will develop their humanitarian promise through curriculum, experience, leadership opportunities, and real-world situations.  We hope for them to embrace social justice, diversity, and equity by becoming involved in their neighborhood and beyond, individually and collaboratively.  

What F4F events/opportunities are planned for this year?

LR:  San Francisco is in the midst of a serious homelessness crisis. At any given time, there are approximately 7,000 people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco; about 10% of that population is made up of families with children. This fall, in conjunction with the Family Association, we are planning a parent education event, student education event, and a Simply the Basics toiletries drive. We hope to better understand the challenges faced by families affected by poverty and homelessness, and to support the work of key organizations tackling those challenges. This spring, we will be planning an All-School Day of Service to put SFS family volunteers to work!

What do you hope F4F will accomplish for SFS, its students, and its families?

CM:  We hope that F4F will deepen our collective understanding of the challenges in front of us, inspire families to be active citizens in the community, and provide a few meaningful ways for people to get involved.

We hope this will be student-driven at the Middle School level. We plan to work with newly elected student council members to integrate this theme and these concepts into their Town Meeting and fundraising efforts.

How can other members of the SFS community become involved in F4F and/or the PPC?

LR:  All members of the SFS community are invited to be part of the PPC. Our meetings are held monthly on Wednesday mornings** (and we’re happy to connect by email if you’re not able to attend). Parents/guardians who are interested in planning ways for families to learn and serve can participate through the FA’s Public Purpose subcommittee. The FA Public Purpose lead is Raveena Rihal.

**Meeting schedule also available on ParentSquare calendar

PPC 2018-2019 Meeting Schedule 9-10 in Conference Room at 311 Gaven











Posted October 16, 2018