About Us

Program Overview

Founded in 2011, Vision Academy has increased access to summer and afterschool programs for children and youth in the Bayview and Mission districts of San Francisco.

Our program works largely with African-American and Latino youth, providing education and enrichment programming designed to support their academic needs and bridge any achievement gaps.

Presently, Vision Academy conducts a community-based afterschool program providing tri-lingual homework assistance (English / Spanish / Chinese) with an emphasis on mathematics and literacy, specialized chess instruction services delivered to partner afterschool programs, and a comprehensive summer day-camp designed to build character, spark youth creativity, and prevent summer learning loss.

To ensure successful outcomes for each participant, our program and staff works diligently to engage and collaborate with parents, teachers, volunteers, PTAs, schools, churches, other afterschool programs, and family service agencies.

In the summer of 2015, Vision Academy became an official program of the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center.

Advisory Board

We are thankful to the following community champions for their service on our Advisory Board.

Mario Paz

Mario Paz is the Executive Director of the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center in San Francisco and has been a passionate nonprofit and public service leader and advocate for children, youth, families and communities for more than 20 years. He has worked as an organizer, counselor, director, consultant, policy advisor and foundation program officer. He has served on numerous boards of directors and currently serves on the board of Mission Council, is an appointed commissioner with San Francisco's Immigrant Rights Commission, and Chairs the Policy Committee of the San Francisco Family Support Network. Mario has received recognition and awards for his work from several communities and foundations including Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families, and Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service Leadership Award for his work in East Palo Alto.Mario, together with his wife Ruth, are dedicated and loving parents of three children Isela, Monica and Daniel. Mario holds an MA in public administration from CSEB and a BA in Political Science from Golden Gate University.

Dr. Joseph Bryant Jr.

Dr. Bryant has been the Senior Pastor of Calvary Hill Church of SF since 1996, as well as Chief Executive Officer of Calvary Hill Social Services. Calvary Hill provides partnerships and services in health education, at-risk counseling, financial literacy, workforce development and a phenomenal youth afterschool program called Vision Academy. Dr. Bryant is also Founder of Good News Today, a non-profit enterprise that provides education and empowerment through conferences, workshops, television, radio and social networking venues and inspirational messaging around the country. KQED recognized Dr. Bryant for his community work in 2015, naming him a Local Hero. Dr. Bryant serves on the Advisory Committee for Mayor Ed Lee's Citywide Violence Prevention Project, as well as a Chaplain for the San Francisco Sheriff's Department. Dr. Bryant is the National Sports Director for Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, and is also co-director of the Silicon Valley Technology & Diversity Project, assisting in the strategic planning, organization and implementation and expansion of opportunities in technology through community based organizations, educational institutions and the faith community.

Laura Choe

Laura is committed to youth services and education within the context of social justice. She has spent the last 20+ years working in out-of-school programs in an effort to increase access and opportunities for low income youth of color. Since 1999, Laura worked at the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation’s Tenderloin After-School Program, first as Program Coordinator, then as Manager. Here she focused on supporting school success, creating and implementing programming to engage and stimulate young minds, nurturing a cohesive and high performing staff, and developing deep ties to the Tenderloin community.Prior to arriving in the Bay Area, Laura received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Sociology from UC San Diego. She focused on inter-minority race relations through the lenses of popular culture, urban geography, immigration, and gender studies.

Shamann Walton

Shamann Walton is the Executive Director of Young Community Developers, Inc. (a workforce development agency located in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point Community), where he manages, develops and implements job readiness training, job placement, barrier mitigation and case management services for participants. In November of 2014, Shamann was elected to serve on the San Francisco Board of Education. Shamann enjoys working with children and their families and he inherited his love for the community from his mother and from his mentor and surrogate father Philmore Graham. Being able to be a positive influence in the lives of others, children in particular, are what keep him motivated. Aside from the work he does with agencies and families in San Francisco, he is heavily involved with his San Francisco community as well. He serves on the Board of Directors for Parents for Public Schools-San Francisco; he is very active with the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Pi Chi Chapter in San Francisco, which allows him to work as part of a team that is a reservoir of help to the community. In addition, Shamann is a member of the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club, the San Francisco African American Democratic Club, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Society of Public Administrators, a LeaderSpring Fellow (Class of 2013) and the Bayview Rotary Club. Most of all he is a proud father of two (Daughter-Monique and Son-Malcolm).

Mark Slee

Mark Slee is the Founder of Heron Arts, a San Francisco arts organization and gallery space in SOMA, operating across the intersection of contemporary art, community, and culture. He previously worked at Facebook in engineering and product development roles from 2006 thru 2012. Mark also actively engages with the music and arts communities in San Francisco via his own creative work, producing electronic music and DJing in San Francisco's house music scene, as well as developing LED light art installations for both private installation and festivals. He has been a significant supporter of large art projects, including 2014's Art City Project, and the forthcoming Envelop 3-D sound space.

Vision Academy Staff

Kian Alavi

Founder and Director of Vision Academy. Kian has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara, has worked in multifamily housing, asset management, and operations management (with professional development in Toyota Way Principles, Continuous Improvement, and Lean Leadership). He has served on “Afterschool for All” and “Summer Learning” work groups for the City of San Francisco, as well as coached/mentored youth at other youth programs. Born in San Francisco at the Children's Hospital to two Iranian-immigrant parents, and raised in the Bay Area, Kian now resides in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco with his wife Tegan.

Judy Jue

Born and raised in San Francisco, Judy is a student at City College of San Francisco and is majoring in Child Development. She enjoys with working with children, reading, and photography. In the future Judy plans on traveling the world and helping to builds schools in developing nations. Judy has been with Vision Academy since our inception in 2011.

Tenny Ma

A native San Franciscan, Tenny is majoring in Child Development at City College of San Francisco. She is a lover of the outdoors and nature. Tenny started with Vision Academy as a volunteer in 2013, and joined our staff shortly thereafer.

Chris Ramirez

A native San Franciscan, Chris is majoring in Art and Design at City College of San Francisco. He developed a love for the arts while attending Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA). Chris loves working with kids, and he especially enjoys sharing his love of art with them. Chris started with Vision Academy as a volunteer in 2013, and joined our staff shortly thereafer.

David Banks

A native San Franciscan, David comes from a family of community builders and advocates. David is a beloved member of our team, and brings a great deal of positivity and leadership to the kids. David joined the Vision Academy in 2013. When David is not working with our youth, he is focused on his passion for music and training wayward canines. David's favorite saying is "Live to Give".

Thais Schwab

Thais was born in Miami Florida, and moved to San Francisco to pursue a degree in Child Development & Psychology. Currently she is finishing her undergraduate degree at San Francisco State. Thais loves working with children, and hopes to one day provide in-school counseling services to kids. She is passionate about art and expressing one's self through creative means. Thais has been with Vision Academy since its inception in 2011.

Gene Kwan

A lover of music and arts, Gene Kwan attended Ruth Asawa School of the Arts with a focus on music. His extended education in music has lead him to give back to the community through his service in teaching music. He is also a dedicated martial artist, having studied Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiujitsu. His teaching skills have served beyond the arts, bringing him to the Vision Academy where he tutors academics and teaches chess in the afterschool time. He takes pleasure in working with the handful of schools in San Francisco during the school year. When he isn't teaching chess you'll likely find him teaching drum lessons or guitar lessons during the weekend. Teaching is truly a pleasure for him, and he loves to see his students grow. Gene joined the Vision Academy in 2013, and is currently a Psychology major at City College of San Francisco.

Taryn Pope

Taryn is a San Francisco native, and is currently attending City College of San Francisco where he is studying Anthropology. Taryn is a dedicated mentor to students at Vision Academy and loves teaching chess. Taryn joined Vision Academy in 2013.

Nicholas Moberg

Nick is a San Francisco native, and is majoring in Psychology at City College of San Francisco. He is passionate about basketball, making a diffrence in the lives of youth, and physical fitness. Nick joined the Vision Academy in 2014.

Honorary Members of Vision Academy

Over the years, we are thankful to have had support from the following individuals:

Adrien Herron, Ashley Rhodes, Ashot Petrosian, Bonita Smith, Chris Tholen, David Parrish, Dr. Hollis Pierce-Jenkins, Elsa Lassoux, Jenny LLewellyn-Jones, Jia Mei Fung, Josh Borin, Kisura Nyoto, Lady Kelly Bryant, Linda Sanders, Mehdi Alavi, Peter Green, Rev. Timothy Dews, Roy Schwab, Sean Tempesta, Shawn Vales, Spencer Mandzik, Tegan Schwab, Vivian Yiu, Xavier Serrato, and Yosh Hariguchi.

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