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|How Did SBAN Begin?
The Summerbridge Breakthrough Alumni Network (SBAN) started, appropriately enough, as a
connection between alumni.
It was late evening on October 2nd, 2003, after the inspiring 25th anniversary celebration of San
Francisco Summerbridge. As usual, impassioned conversations took place between alumni, but
instead of coming from a 12 year-old student and a 15 – 19 year old teacher, they were coming from
adults in their 20’s and 30’s who had amassed an incredible list of academic credentials, expertise,
and the will to make a difference.
In one particular conversation, former SF Summerbridge student and teacher James Fogerty was
talking about his life. James was spending most of his time attending law school and working as a
bouncer (!) at his brother’s bar, but what he really wanted to do was run for the Board of Education
of the San Francisco Unified School District. The school board, he said, had lost its way and stopped
putting students first. He wanted to bring Summerbridge Spirit to the city’s schools.
Although we alumni have participated in Summerbridge or Breakthrough at different sites and in
different years, we have a remarkably similar view of what Summerbridge Spirit means: high
standards of academic excellence; a belief that young people can lead and succeed; and a
celebration of our diverse backgrounds. All of this is needed - desperately – in America’s schools.
As James said this, it was clear that he didn’t believe he would run for school committee – or win –
anytime soon. He was just one person.