Community Best Aims to Bridge Gap between Tech-fueled Growth and Public School Woes
REDWOOD CITY, CA.- Redwood City is in the midst of immense change and growing wealth and development, now considered a technology hub with more than 150 tech companies. This development, however, has not trickled down to supporting the Redwood City School District where over half of the kids are eligible for free or reduced lunches. Rising cost of living and low school ratings have caused declining enrollment, resulting in four school closures and steep budget cuts, squeezing a district already tight on resources.
“Redwood City is marked by extreme polarities, and most people probably have no idea how it is impacting our kids,” says Dan Ho, Redwood City native and resident. “I’m raising two daughters here, and I want them to grow up loving the city as much as I do. And in order for the city to grow in a sustainable way, we have some work to do!”
Dan Ho, along with other local parents and denizens of the tech industry, Cody Voellinger and Jane Buescher, started Community Best, a nonprofit aimed at uplifting the school district by connecting it to the local tech community. With the announcement of Redwood City Mayor Ian Bain as Special Advisor, Community Best is already making headway.
"Having served on the City Council and working in the technology field for many years, I've seen how growth in the tech industry has changed Redwood City and the region” explains Redwood City Mayor Ian Bain. “Now our schools face tough challenges with declining enrollment and steep budget cuts. We need our corporate neighbors with great people, ingenuity and resources to get involved. I joined Community Best in an advisory role to help bridge the gap between tech companies and local communities."
Community Best is immediately focused on building awareness, strategic growth and partnerships. Their efforts are inspiring a new kind of conversation and coordinating creative solutions among stakeholders of tech companies, and accountability for creating a healthier community and opportunity for everyone.
Tom Moss, COO at Skydio, an autonomous drone startup headquartered in Redwood City, says “Skydio is proud to have built our company in Redwood City. We are excited about this opportunity to give back and also deepen our ties with the community and local schools.”
Not surprisingly, STEAM education opportunities have resonated with tech companies.
Sandra Oh Lin, CEO of KiwiCO, says “KiwiCo wants STEAM education available to all children. Our mission at KiwiCo is to provide the next generation of innovators with the tools and a foundation to become creative problem-solvers and critical thinkers. So we are excited to partner with Community Best and contribute to STEAM initiatives at Redwood City schools.”
“The best part is that we have just barely scratched the surface,” says Derek Voellinger, Community Best’s Director of Community Outreach. “We are a lean team, working with time-constrained but resource-rich companies, so we lead with the question ‘how do you want to help?’ Whether it is funding and/or volunteering, we figure out the most efficient, effective way to make a positive impact.”
For their first major event, Community Best is organizing Night Out, a fundraiser auction at Angelica’s on Thursday May 30th to bring together all parties in one room- techies, educators, parents and engaged Redwood City-zens. This is the beginning of building long-term partnerships between tech and the schools as one united community.
Community Best is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization started by parents/ entrepreneurs/ engineers, working alongside the Mayor and Redwood City school educators. Community Best is the bridge between local tech companies and the local community, with the greater mission to build a stronger united community. For more information, visit www.communitybest.org, and follow us at www.facebook.com/UnitedWithTech/