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Why CDS?: A Note from the Board Chair and Access & Affordability Committee

Thursday, March 23, 2017

“An oasis in the middle of a San Francisco block.” That is what I remember thinking the day we visited Children’s Day School for the first time. It was a beautiful fall day. The sun was shining through the leaves of the palm tree in the center of the yard. I was amazed by this oasis that I didn’t even know existed.

That day we were on a tour. I specifically remember visiting the room of some older kids. They were probably 10 or 11. As we entered, a few students ran up to us and started telling us about the group project they were working on. I was struck by just how different this classroom looked from the ones I grew up in – gone were the rows and rows of desks. And how different the students looked – engaged, enthusiastic…I knew right away that this was where I wanted my daughter to go to school.

Fast-forward to the spring. Our daughter Naomi had been accepted and we were attending Country Fair. I remember just how noticeable the spirit of the community was – how friendly and connected. And I will be honest: I wondered whether I would ever find my place in it, awkward and shy as I was. If you had told me then, “Cheryl, in five years you will chair the board,” I would absolutely not have believed you. The truth is, being a part of this community and finding my place in it has transformed me.

I am often asked, “Cheryl, how do you do it? How do you manage a demanding job, chairing the board, family, etc.?” I never really know what to say. I was thinking about it, though, and I realized “It’s not the how. It’s the why.” The reason why CDS is so important to me is what enables me to find the time and energy to do what I do. So what is “the Why”? Sure, I’ve discussed a lot of great things about CDS we all appreciate – the amazing campus, the constructivist curriculum, the supportive community. But it is the core founding value of social justice that really motivates me.

Make no mistake, we are in the midst of unprecedented change. The world as we know it will change dramatically as our kids become adults. Technological leaps will disrupt the working world. The future of society is on the line: will wealth continue to be funneled to the richest 1%? Will we increasingly be a society of haves and have-nots? Will we have “equality and justice for all,” or just for all who look and talk like we do? We absolutely need as many change makers as possible who understand how they and their actions fit into the fabric of a global society. Who, instead of sitting on the sidelines bemoaning the state of the world, will be an active part of delivering justice and abundance to everyone? And, from what I have seen of the students at CDS, I truly believe we are playing an important part in enabling a brighter future with our mission of creating passionate citizens who change the world.

This is “the Why” for me. Why I spend a good amount of time at the school, why I give until it hurts, and why I am so committed to CDS.

Tomorrow is our annual auction, Fiesta. It’s our opportunity to demonstrate our collective values – our commitment to diversity, to social justice, and to our community – by supporting the event and sliding scale in whatever way we can, whether it’s volunteering to make the event happen, coming and celebrating our community, bidding on online items or, if you can, raising your paddle during the live auction. Anything each one of us does helps strengthen CDS.

Our amazing community is made up of every single one of us and can be improved by every single thing each of us does. Thanks for being my inspiration and motivation!

Cheryl Porro
Parent of Naomi, 4th Grade Marbled Murrelets
CDS Board Chair


Did You Know…

From the CDS Access & Affordability Committee


How Does Sliding Scale Benefit CDS as a Whole?

“Children’s Day School has truly accomplished its mission by allowing all three of our oldest children to feel secure to be themselves and have a sense of belonging regardless of their background. CDS has opened its doors and made tuition affordable for our family, allowing our children to benefit from a first-class education. The CDS community has welcomed us in a warm and loving way and our children have built a solid and vital foundation to succeed not only in high school, but for the years that lie ahead.”  — from a CDS mom

We recently spoke with a CDS graduate who was on sliding scale, later went on to University High School, and is now attending a renowned university. He said, “CDS really taught me not to settle. During college admissions, my advisor told me I shouldn’t apply to certain colleges because I might not get in. [But] something I heard left and right at CDS is to reach higher and higher. If someone tells you that you can’t, it makes you want to work that much harder to succeed.” He also spoke of the importance of giving back, which he tries to do through tutoring every summer.

With our Legends of Rock! community celebration and auction coming up tomorrow, we thought that now would be a good time to pause and reflect on what this fundraising event means for our CDS community. As you know, it’s one of the ways we provide support for our sliding scale tuition (SST) program. We’re proud to continue a longtime tradition of being a leader in economic diversity among San Francisco independent elementary schools. We devote approximately 20% of our operating budget to our SST (almost $2.7 million for 2016-2017), a considerable financial commitment. Twenty-eight percent of our enrolled students are on SST. This is one of the many ways we honor our core commitment to diversity, including economic diversity.

SST benefits families in two main ways: accessibility and affordability. Accessibility speaks to bringing a CDS education to families who need significant financial assistance to enroll their children. Affordability acknowledges that, with the rising costs of everything in the Bay Area (including tuition), some families that previously could pay for a CDS education may need some support to bridge the gap in order to send their children to CDS. In these ways, sliding scale helps a variety of families in many different economic situations become part of the CDS fabric.   

One common misconception about SST in general is that the majority of the funding goes to one or two racial or ethnic groups. This is not the case at CDS, where we actively strive to reach a diverse group of families. While race is not a factor in determining sliding scale support, the data shows that SST supports a wide range of families from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, with no racial or ethnic majority.  

Sliding scale is about much more than dollars; when families with different experiences and from diverse backgrounds join the CDS community, the result is a set of invaluable experiences that benefit all our students.   

We are looking forward once again to our annual auction. One hundred percent of proceeds from Fiesta go toward sliding scale tuition.