A left-leaning think tank has highlighted San Diego Unified as an example of a school system that is tackling poverty to help students, pointing out that some schools double as food stamp enrollment centers.

The Center for American Progress argues that combating poverty is crucial to improving academic achievement and that schools can and should play a central role in that fight. In a new report, it spotlighted a San Diego program that sets up food stamp enrollments at schools:

The San Diego Local Initiatives Support Coalition estimates that volunteers have counseled more than 600 families at the four participating schools, resulting in a monthly benefit total of $39,116 for these families. Volunteers are now expanding the scope of their involvement to include assisting with other benefit programs and general family assistance. The coalition plans to broaden the impact of the initiative by creating counseling hours at additional high-poverty schools in the fall of 2010.

The Center for American Progress isn’t alone: Taking on poverty and students’ broader social and emotional needs has also been one of stated priorities for Bill Freeman, the new president of the teachers union. Check out our interview with Freeman for more on his ideas.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/emilyschoolsyou.

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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