Mission Promise Neighborhood: Stories Behind the Numbers

A By All Means Senior Fellow's, Success Planning, and Recent EdRedesign Case Study Community

Behind the Mission Promise Neighborhoods’s notable results are real-life stories of individuals whose trajectories have been transformed through its and its partners’ two-generation, collective impact approach. Their stories and voices illustrate the potential of this strategy to dramatically improve people’s lives. Read the full story of MEDA and MPN here.


Meet Dr. Yohana Quiroz

For a remarkable 26 years, I've dedicated myself to this organization [Felton Institute, an MPN partner]. However, my journey with the Felton Institute began in a vastly different role—as a client, a young, expectant teenager in need of support. The Felton Institute's Early Care and Education programs played a pivotal role in my life, nurturing my daughter from her infancy, and seeing her through graduation. Today, she stands as a 27-year-old educator and a high school counselor who embodies the spirit of learning and giving back. My personal and family's achievements owe a tremendous debt to the holistic, comprehensive services provided by the Felton Institute. It's these services that have been instrumental in our success stories. My unwavering belief in the MPN's mission and model stems from this firsthand and my own personal lived experience. I have witnessed the transformative power of a collective impact approach, where multiple organizations come together with a shared commitment to address the unique needs of each family in a holistic, integrated, and collaborative manner. I am convinced that this is the only path to changing the course of outcomes for children and families. – Dr. Yohana Quiroz

Dr. Quiroz and baby daughter
Image courtesy of Mission Economic Development Agency.

Dr. Yohana Quiroz, Chief Operations Officer at MPN partner Felton Institute, knows the power of a multi-generation, comprehensive approach from two perspectives: first as a client and currently as a leader of the organization. She attended an alternative high school for pregnant and parenting teens and received a referral to Felton by her school’s wellness center. At Felton, Quiroz worked with a case manager who connected her to an array of services, including health insurance to cover her prenatal care and an academic plan. Quiroz’s daughter also benefited from Felton’s support, attending an early care and education center that was co-located in Quiroz’s high school.

Felton’s wraparound services enabled Quiroz and her daughter to flourish. Quiroz graduated early from high school and soon began work as a receptionist at Felton. She entered college that fall and continued to work full time at Felton. Navigating the higher education system as a first-generation college student and balancing her coursework with a full-time job wasn’t an easy feat, yet she persisted, earning her associate’s degree. She didn’t stop there. “I fell in love with education. Education is a pathway for folks to get out of poverty and reach whatever potential they see in front of them,” Quiroz described. This passion for education led her to continue on to earn a bachelor's degree, then a master’s degree, and finally a doctorate in education leadership.

Quiroz has now worked at Felton for 26 years and believes the organization’s partnership with MPN is vital to its ongoing success. “I’ve lived the mission of the organization. I attribute a lot of my and my family’s success to the comprehensive wraparound services that I was able to get at Felton Institute. I really believe in the mission of the MPN model through a collective impact approach,” said Quiroz. Like Quiroz, her daughter is also flourishing. She is now 27 years old and is a school counselor, mirroring the same deep commitment to supporting children and youth as her mother.

Meet Arold Josué Hernández and Samuel Hernández

Arold Josué Hernández and his son Samuel exemplify perseverance and resilience. After Hernández’s wife was murdered in his native Honduras, he and his young son immigrated to San Francisco, CA. Lacking stable housing when they first arrived, Hernández and his son lived in shelters and accessed services from Compass Family Services, an MPN partner. During this period, Hernández learned about MPN from one of his son’s therapists from the San Francisco Unified School District and connected with Ana Avilez, who was then serving as an MPN Early Learning Family Success Coach. Ana informed Hernandez about a lottery for a below-market-rate apartment offered through the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development. He applied and won. However, he wasn’t able to take the unit because he didn’t have a steady income due to health challenges that prevented him from working. Hernandez decided to try again the following year as he was recovering from surgery since he was now receiving income from unemployment benefits as well as a housing subsidy from Hamilton Families, another MPN partner. This time he and his son were able to move into the apartment.

Arold and his son
Image courtesy of Mission Economic Development Agency.

In addition to housing, Avilez helped identify other essential services, including food resources and financial aid during the pandemic, and opportunities for Hernandez and his son who needs additional supports due to his visual impairment. “The truth is that Ana has been my right-hand person,” Hernandez shared.

He has continued to work closely with MPN and its partners to build a strong network of support for his family. For example, he connected with Support for Families of Children with Disabilities, which informed him about his rights and the services that his son would receive through his Individualized Education Plan (IEP). He also sent his son to one of Felton Institute’s early learning centers where his son received individual assistance to help him navigate his space in the classroom, strengthen his motor skills, and build friendships with his peers.
Both Hernandez and his son are thriving in their new home surrounded by a supportive community. His son is now attending an SFUSD school and continues to benefit from therapies to foster his growth, development, and learning. Hernandez was able to rejoin the workforce after receiving a medical discharge and a work permit through a referral from MPN partner La Raza Centro Legal to a pro bono immigration lawyer.

When Arold receives a no, he won’t stop there. He now knows how he can apply for resources from which his family can benefit. Now they have a permanent home, and the child has all the therapies and a school that can fulfill his needs. – Ana Avilez


Meet Ana Avilez

Originally from Honduras, Ana Avilez (who worked with Arold Josué Hernández and his son Samuel as their Early Learning Family Success Coach as noted in their story above) deeply believes in MPN’s mission. That’s because—like many of MEDA’s staff—she and her family have experienced the impact of its comprehensive, wraparound supports firsthand.

Back in 2014, Avilez attended an MPN community fair where she learned about MEDA’s home buying resources and its family council. Avilez next met with MEDA staff and soon learned about an array of programs and opportunities for both her and her children. These included preschool options and job search assistance.

Ana Avilez
Image courtesy of Mission Economic Development Agency.

During this time, Avilez supported her family by cleaning houses. She was eager to grow professionally and to further develop her technology skills. As a next step, she enrolled in Mission Techies, a 16-week intensive IT training program. “My mother and my husband were very supportive of me. They went to pick up the children from school. I worked cleaning houses from 8:00 to 12:30, and then came to Techies from 1:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon. Those were long weeks, a lot of effort,” Avilez recalled.

She then joined MPN’s Community Advisory Council and subsequently became a contractor for MPN’s Making Connections program, a digital literacy course for parents. Through this role, she bolstered families’ computer and technology skills, assisted them with obtaining low-cost internet access, and helped them access other resources. She also adapted the curriculum to make it culturally relevant.

Over the years, Avilez has served in additional MPN roles, including Family Success Coach and Parent and Youth Engagement Specialist. Currently, she serves as a program associate of MEDA’s Promise City initiative, which aims to assist other San Francisco neighborhoods with implementing the Promise Neighborhoods model. 

“Now I envision MPN leading the way for other communities in the city. The needs of Latinos are not that different from the needs of our Asian or African American neighbors. Families deserve stable and safe housing for themselves and their children. I like the MPN approach because it focuses on the well-being of everyone, not just one person, which is why the role of each partner organization is so instrumental. We know it takes a village to raise a child.” – Avilez.

In addition to assisting her with finding a financially stable job and buying a house, Avilez credits MPN with helping her to grow professionally, emotionally, and personally. She points to her ability to connect with families as well as her own, in addition to her leadership and advocacy skills. Avilez is a member of her children’s school’s English Learner Advisory Committee, raising awareness about the importance of interpretation. She also formed a pride club at her son’s school to educate students about the LGBTQ community. “I want my children to know that I am there for them and with them,” she said.