I am proud to share this news: today, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) named Good Samaritan’s Kian Alavi to its annual YBCA 100. According to YBCA, the YBCA 100 highlights people “from all over the world who are using their platform to create a cultural movement.”
Kian, pictured to the left, is best known for starting the Vision Academy in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood.
A local mother first introduced me to Kian and the Vision Academy. Her child, who had learning challenges, blossomed by playing chess on a daily basis with Kian. At her urging, I went to meet Kian and see the Vision Academy for myself. She and I agree with YBCA when they call Kian a "top innovator, provocateur, and thought leader."
Here's why: the Vision Academy is a place where creativity, ingenuity, and fun wins. Students, aged 5 to 13 years, learn how to play chess and computer code. They also meet daily with adult mentors who focus on each child's sense of belonging, self-worth and progress at school.
Under Kian's guidance, the Vision Academy has become a premier destination for low-income families seeking a high-quality afterschool and summer experience for their children.
In 2015, Kian and I agreed the Vision Academy should merge with Good Samaritan.
Since then, Kian has advanced various strategies for making San Franicsco a better place for children, particularly low-income students and children/teens of color. For example:
Kian has co-designed and promoted the “415 Youth Framework,” a social-justice learning summit for youth advocates and direct service workers.
Kian has become more involved in elevating the importance of transportation justice. Kian is a member of the Bicis del Pueblo action team, advocating for bike-sharing. He also serves on the Transportation Authority's Citizens Advisory Committee as the community representative for District 9--consisting of the Mission, Bernal, Portola neighborhoods.
Kian is launching an exciting, new project for Good Samaritan. In partnership with educators at Willie Brown Middle School, we are opening a new Beacon Center in the Bayview neighborhood with the goal of increasing middle school success. Inspired by the Vision Academy model, the new Beacon Center aims to connect 150 students at the school to social-emotional and academic supports as well as to caring adults. Stay tuned for the grand opening in August!
Thanks to YBCA for supporting community-based movement-leaders. Good Samaritan is proud to call one of the "YBCA 100" one of our own!
Join me in congratulating Kian, our Director of Youth Services! You can send him a message by simply hitting "reply."
P.S. If you are able, please make a donation to Good Samaritan in Kian's honor. Thank you!