Students in the San Francisco Unified School District recently started their summer vacation. And while enjoying these next few months of rest, relaxation and fun are vital to our kids, we want to make sure that just because they're not in the classroom, it doesn't mean they're not learning.
According to the National Summer Learning Association, many students from low-income families lose more than two months of reading skills they have developed during the past school year. But most students from middle-class homes actually make slight gains in reading achievement during the summer months.
The reason? A lot of the time low-income students don't have access to books.
That is why Xoom is hosting a book drive for Junipero Serra Elementary School starting this month. This will help get more books into the classroom, and in turn more books into the hands of our SFUSD students.
Xoom has partnered with Junipero Serra through a new initiative called Circle the Schools. This innovative new program, created by San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation (sf.citi) and the San Francisco Education Fund, connects San Francisco-based tech companies with a local public school.
Companies then volunteer to organize various activities at their partner school. This includes everything from hosting field trips at the company office, providing snacks before standardized tests, and in Xoom's case, this also includes a book drive.
This exciting new program helps connect tech companies and their employees with the community where they live and work.
There is a tendency to lump all tech companies together. But through the work that Xoom does (allowing families to easily and safely send money to relatives all over the world), the company has become about as diverse as San Francisco and SFUSD students.
Xoom employees see themselves in the students at Junipero Serra, which is why we are so excited about getting involved with Circle the Schools.
In the end, what we all want is to see our city improve, and one of the best places to do this is through our public school system. Circle the Schools takes a One City approach, where everyone, from tech companies, to service organizations, to individuals, can work together to improve our public-school system.
Over the summer, we hope other companies in the tech industry will join us in this powerful initiative that has the potential to transform our public-school system.
Full disclosure: there is also a personal stake in this initiative for me. Both of my children attend public schools in San Francisco. My wife and I are both actively involved with our school's PTA.
Quality public-school education is a top priority for our family, and it should be a top priority for all tech companies in San Francisco.
Helping to improve a child's education here in San Francisco will help our industry and our city's shared future. We have an opportunity to nurture the best and the brightest minds in science, technology and math right here in our own backyard.
SFUSD students have the potential to be the next wave of entrepreneurs, innovators and disrupters. We just have to give them the tools and the support that they need to succeed. It's my hope that you'll join with Xoom and the other companies already involved in the Circle the Schools, as we start to make a difference for our City's kids.
If you would like to donate books for the Junipero Serra Elementary School book drive please visit: http://sfciti.com/cts.
John Kunze is the CEO and president of Xoom.