SUN Community Schools was founded in 1999 by the City of Portland, Oregon and Multnomah County, Oregon as a partnership of the city, county, state, and local school districts. It became part of the broader SUN Service System in 2004.
The decision for the City of Portland and Multnomah County to partner together to support schools happened in 1998 under the leadership of then-Multnomah County Chair Beverly Stein, City Commissioner Jim Francesconi and County Commissioner Diane Linn. The goal was two-fold: first to support education and school success and second, to improve the way resources for students and their families were delivered by developing a school-based delivery model.
To work toward this goal, an ad hoc committee of representatives was convened, including leadership from an existing County Community Building Initiative and a City-sponsered After School Cabinet. The committee met for seven months to design a model that built on existing assets. One major asset was the City Bureau of Parks and Recreation's successful community school program offering recreational activities at 13 sites. Another asset was the County's history of providing school-based services, including health clinics, case managers, family resource centers, and mental health workers. While both the County and the City has experience partnering with schools, they had never systematically coordinated their efforts with each other. A third key asset was the early work that local non-profits were doing to help build partnerships with schools.
The vision that emerged from the ad hoc committee was an expanded community school model that added educational activities and social services, and increased the involvement of families, community members and local business. The Parks Bureau has begun moving in this direction with a program designed to bring partners together to increase recreational programming for the hours before and after school. The focus on community partners was folded into the emerging model for expanded community schools.
Both the County and the City allocated general fund dollars to support a collaborative full-service community school model. In 1999, the Multnomah County Youth Advisory Board chose the name "SUN Schools." Within months, the first eight SUN Schools were identified.
In 1999, the city of Portland and Multnomah County selected 8 schools as the first SUN Schools. This happened through a Request for Interest (RFI) Process. To view the original RFI document for SUN click on the link below.
SUN Lead Agencies were then selected jointly with the schools, through an initial Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process and Request for Proposal (RFP) that was let only to qualified agencies.
As part of the alignment between the City of Portland and Multnomah County around school-based programs and site selection, a joint School Selection process took place in May through September of 2002. SUN Schools, Parks Community Schools and the County Touchstone program ran a joint selection process during this time period. Schools applied if they had current funding they wanted to maintain or augment, or selection, process was used to make a variety of decisions in 2002 and the early part of 2003, including cutting programs, moving programs and pursuing grants for programs.
As of Spring 2003, SUN has become part of the larger School-Age Policy Framework SUN Expands (SAPF). In the SAPF, schools are identified to receive a core set of school-based services (SUN Community Schools) based on free and reduced lunch rates and geographic equity. In the planning process, 108 schools were identified as high need. For the 2003-04 school year, funding was available to take SUN Community Schools to 46 schools initially. It is the intention of the City and County, as funded becomes available, to work towards providing these services at all 108 identified schools.
Through SAPF, the agency or organization that delivers the SUN Community School (formerly called the SUN Lead Agency) will be determined through the larger SAPF RPF. The first RPF for SAPF was let on October 3, 2003.