Case Study



The Problem

The San Francisco Beacon Initiative is a public-private partnership that promotes youth and family centers in San Francisco public schools. Eight Beacon Centers housed in schools across the city have a dual purpose – to serve youth and their families through programs, and to act as community centers, engaging their communities as active partners to help the Centers as well as help the communities they serve.

Many of the Beacon Centers had originally created “community councils” to assist with that engagement – some of the councils had since lost momentum. The Beacon Initiative asked Community Focus to help the Centers with the revitalization of their councils as well as with other community engagement activities.

What We Did

After conducting a needs assessment at each Beacon Center, we concentrated our community engagement technical assistance on three Beacon Centers. We also worked with the other Centers, Beacon Initiative staff and other community partners to identify best practices for community engagement.

We focused on strengthening the community councils and developing strategies for community engagement including recruitment, facilitation, outreach, team development, agenda creation, meeting structure, role definition, youth engagement, parent engagement, and decision-making processes. Community Focus worked with the Centers to link community engagement strategies to sustainable processes with the goal of integrating community engagement into the general operations of each Beacon Center.


  • Increased recruitment from different constituencies

  • Defined roles and responsibilities and developed a meeting structure to keep the direction of the council focused on its goals

  • Developed a standing meeting agenda matrix

  • Created a list of priorities and concerns for council project selection

  • Successfully integrated young people into the council

  • Identified Best Practices through a combination of meetings with Beacon staff and individual interviews with Beacon directors and community partners

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