Stevon Cook is a third generation San Franciscan and currently resides in the Mission District. At the age of 10, he and his sister moved in with their grandparents while their parents battled personal challenges. Stevon was headed down a troubled path until his outlook on school changed when he became a student at Thurgood Marshall High School in Bayview Hunters Point. Marshall’s engaging staff transformed Stevon and he developed into a leader, becoming active in school district policy as a member of the Student Advisory Council.
After graduating from Marshall and beginning his postsecondary career at Williams College, Stevon vowed to return to San Francisco to help improve the city’s public schools and ensure every student has access to a quality education. While in college, Stevon gathered the skills he would need to fulfill his promise. He became active in community service, business, and politics, spending his summer breaks pursuing political internships and community service work.
With his degree from Williams College in hand, Stevon returned to San Francisco and served in the inaugural class of the Mayor’s City Hall Fellows program. As a Fellow, Stevon’s goal was to learn how government could connect resources to communities to improve the lives of residents. Working in the Department of Public Works he was able to achieve this goal, and helped the department to improve performance measurements and efficiencies for the city’s maintenance departments. From there, Stevon made good on his promise to return to the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to help students with upbringings resembling his own by returning to Thurgood Marshall High School as an academic advisor for students and families. His goal was to put students in the best possible position to pursue higher education. During his time at Marshall advising students, he helped hundreds of youth through a variety of issues and ran several college support programs including Saturday School, SAT Prep course, After School Tutoring, Parent Academic workshops, and several college tours.
Stevon’s success as an academic advisor at Marshall led to his appointment to the Community Advisory Committee for the Public Education and Enrichment Fund, commonly referred to as PEEF. The charge of the committee is to provide oversight and recommendations for over $30 million in funding to SFUSD programs like sports, libraries, arts, music, Peer Resources, and Student Wellness programs. Shortly after joining the committee, Stevon’s peers elected him co-chair, a position through which he played a leadership role in reorganizing the committee to better define and structure its reviewing and reporting process to the Board of Education.
Further, Stevon’s success at Marshall High School led to his earning a position at the San Francisco Education Fund, where he was able to help link community resources to students at every public high school in San Francisco. At the Education Fund, Stevon’s work focused on helping high schools improve postsecondary outcomes for first generation students of color. To do so, Stevon relied on local, state, and national research around successful interventions that get students into college, and used this data to partner with teachers, principals, counselors, and community-based organizations to implement interventions at the high school level. As a result of this work, partnering SFUSD high schools saw college enrollment rates increase by 38% for African American and 14% for Latino students.
Recognizing his ability to build and sustain deep partnerships, coupled with his diverse understanding of San Francisco’s public schools as both a student and nonprofit professional, Stevon realized his capability to do more to help create positive outcomes for students in the SFUSD. That realization led him to run for the San Francisco Board of Education in 2014, gaining the support of labor unions, several democratic clubs, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. He finished the election with over 55,000 votes and trailed the winners by just 1% of votes.
In March of 2015, Stevon accepted a position as CEO of Mission Bit, a nonprofit focused on expanding computer science education to public school students. When Stevon took the job, the organization was completely volunteer run without ongoing funding streams and little programmatic diversity. He has helped raise the profile of the organization by having programs featured on CBS 5, Tech Crunch, SF Chronicle, and Mission Local. He has increased enrollment by 40%, doubled course offerings, and expanded to seven locations. More African American and Latino students are enrolled in a Mission Bit coding course than are currently taking computer science classes in San Francisco’s public schools.
As a Commissioner, Stevon will work with his colleagues to continue the work of ensuring that schools are preparing young people for the jobs of today. He will focus securing the resources to help ensure SFUSD can attract and retain quality educators, address issues of affordability and income inequality, and find innovative ways to better engage families and solicit their feedback about how they're experiencing our public schools.
Furthermore, Stevon is deeply committed to social justice and addressing institutional barriers for students with learning differences, LGBT youth, African American, Latino, and new-comer students and families. Having overcome tremendous barriers himself, having graduated our public schools and now leading an organization that serves youth, he brings a unique perspective that can greatly support the policy work happening at the Board of Education.
Stevon’s life experience, career accomplishments, and commitment to San Francisco public schools make him a perfect choice to serve as a Commissioner on the Board of Education.