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Each child is born with
inherent worth and dignity,
and equitable access and opportunity are essential to a just, educated society.

San Diego County's

Half of our students and their families struggle to afford safe housing and transportation, buy enough food, and access quality health care.


Our schools are uniquely positioned to become places of community transformation and opportunities for social mobility.


SDCOE'S North Star

To reduce poverty through public education

Approximately half of all students in San Diego County qualified for free or reduced lunch in the 2022-23 school year. That means they are living in conditions where a family of four has an annual income of $39,000 to $55,000 per year.

SDCOE has an ambitious goal to reduce this number from 51% in 2022-23 to 35% by the end of the 2029-30 school year. This goal guides SDCOE’s work as we strive for a future without boundaries for all students.


Beginning with Belonging

From a metrics perspective, a key indicator is the number of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, though it’s not the only one.  The opposite of poverty is belonging. Belongingness is about social inclusion and honoring culture, language, and voice – and it has the power to change lives.

In Poverty and Race Through a Belongingness Lens, professor john a. powell says, “In a wealthy and mature democracy, poverty is largely about social exclusion and the lack of belonging, not material inequity. As an excluded group increases in size, the realities of exclusion seriously affect not only the target group, but the overall society as well.”

The SDCOE North Star framework has two key elements: transformational teaching and learning in community schools and curb cut culture – with our board goals, Equity Blueprint for Action, and student wellness at the center.

SDCOE's North Star goal triangle centers students thriving


Our system is working the way it was built to work. To reimagine our system, we have to work together - schools, families, students, and neighbors to create community spaces that serve the needs of the community and promote well-being.

- john a. powell

An average of 64% of students surveyed answered that they feel connected to school.

Source: California Healthy Kids Survey 2017-19, San Diego County


Can our schools be so welcoming, so inviting, and so comfortable that every person who walks through our doors believes they are about to have an amazing experience? 
- Fisher, Frey, and Pumpian, 2012

Let’s reimagine our schools as community hubs where students, families, staff, and community members thrive.

Schools can:

  • listen and respond to the unique needs of their community
  • bring their community together with outside organizations that provide services and care
  • engage in transformational teaching and learning
  • set high expectations in a premium educational experience


What would it look like if private, public, and philanthropic groups worked together in harmony to best support the well-being and success of every child? 

We can build campuses where students and families can easily access the services they need to thrive. Together, we can ensure that not one more child goes hungry or feels like they don't belong in our schools.

Would you like
to join us?

Please reach out. We look forward to connecting with you!

Contact Us


Our Strategy: Community Schools

A community school strategy transforms a school into a place where educators, local community members, families, and students work together to strengthen conditions for student learning and healthy development.

As partners, they organize in- and out-of-school resources, supports, and opportunities so that young people thrive.

Community schools work together with families and community members to create safe supportive spaces where:

  • Students have what they need to learn,
  • Families are partners and have what they need to thrive, and
  • Communities benefit from stronger, healthier, engaged residents.

Learn more about the SDCOE community schools strategy and Southern Coast Regional Technical Assistance Center.

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