» History


Back on Track was founded in 1988 as an interfaith collaborative effort between Third Baptist Church and Temple Emanu-El. The unique partnership has crossed religious and cultural differences to build bridges of opportunity for K-12 students. As a non-denominational community-based program, Back on Track has served more than 2,000 young people from diverse multicultural populations throughout San Francisco.

Back on Track students come from all walks of life but share two important characteristics: intelligence and a desire to succeed academically. Most are the first in their family to go to college. More than half of our students live in the Western Addition with the remainder commuting from other neighborhoods throughout San Francisco including:

    • Bayview/Hunters Point
    • Fillmore
    • Mission District
    • Chinatown
    • Tenderloin
    • Richmond
    • Sunset

Back on Track’s participants develop the skills that ensure success on a pre-college academic path. Moreover, students grow from their connection with caring adults who take the time to know and support their efforts. Back on Track’s academic support services are predicated on the philosophy that individualized tutoring and mentorship is the most effective way to complement in-school learning and sustain basic academic skill development. Reading comprehension across all disciplines, writing, mathematics, and science comprise the core academic work reflected in our tutorials. However, no single prescription or pedagogy meets the needs of all students. Because each student’s learning style is different, tutors are trained to identify problem areas and craft tutoring sessions to reflect the specific needs of their student.

The program succeeds as a result of total community involvement: volunteer tutors, corporate and private donors, community partners, and of course, our Back on Track families. Volunteer tutors from all over the Bay Area are the key to our ability to provide a quality academic program. Our tutors find satisfaction in observing academic progress, empowering students to become lifelong learners, and playing a pivotal role in the life of a young person. The staff encourage these successful relationships by providing individual academic support, ongoing tutor training, parent workshops, regular check-in’s, a computer lab and library, cultural enrichment activities, and a broad spectrum of fun, educational field trips. To stimulate a passion for reading, Back on Track maintains an extensive library of reading materials including age appropriate books, reference materials, magazines, and newspapers. Our textbooks are aligned with the San Francisco Unified School District.

Back On Track Sponsors