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Mission & History

June Jordan School for Equity (JJSE) is a small public high school located in the Excelsior neighborhood of San Francisco. Founded in 2003 through a community organizing effort, the school is named after Bay Area writer and activist June Jordan.


JJSE’s mission is to prepare young people in three key areas:

community: We live with respect, integrity, courage, and humility.

social justice: We stand against oppression and work to create positive change in ourselves and our communities.

independent thinkers: We develop ourselves intellectuals with the skills we need to succeed.


JJSE was founded in 2003 by Small Schools for Equity (SSE), a non-profit organization formed by a group of teachers, parents, and students who believed that San Francisco needed a new and innovative model of schooling. For two years before the school opened, the school’s founders studied successful urban schools across the country and worked with the San Francisco Organizing Project to cultivate a broad-based community organizing effort, through which the San Francisco Unified School District agreed to put forth a request for proposals for new and redesigned schools. SSE applied in partnership with San Francisco State University’s College of Education and was selected from among 30 applicants to open the new school. Later, JJSE parents and staff organized and worked to help SFUSD pass a district-wide Small Schools Policy.


This history lives on today, as JJSE strives to work alongside the communities of southeast San Francisco as part of a social justice movement which includes among its goals offering a high-quality education to all youth in the city, not just those from certain neighborhoods or backgrounds. We strive to not only prepare students for college, but to honor the traditions of their communities by teaching students to be leaders who are prepared to work for a more equitable world.


We have created this brief timeline of JJSE’s pre-opening years and first five years of the school’s history, through summer 2008.