FaauugaMoliga is a San Francisco native and San Francisco Unified School District alumni who is running for the Board of Education. He grew up in the San Francisco neighborhoods of Bernal Heights and Hunter’s Point, where he lived in public housing with his family. He gained first hand insight into the SFUSD as a student at Paul Revere Elementary, Burbank Middle School, McAteer High School, Downtown High Continuation, John Adams, and finally a graduate from Balboa High School. Later down the road, he would also come to further understand the importance of public education as a father of children attending public schools.
College and Career Beginnings
Faauuga attended City College of San Francisco before transferring to San Jose State University, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies. Originally intent on becoming a lawyer, Faauuga left law school when he discovered that out of 55 Pacific Islanders at Burton only 5 had a 2.00 GPA. The lack of support for Pacific Islander students compelled Faauuga to start Take Out Until Completely Healed (TOUCH). For six years, he spearheaded a program supporting over one hundred young women within a given year and leading to a 90% college transition rate for all seniors. Today, TOUCH participants have graduated and attended colleges such as UCLA, Harvard, Smith College, and UC Riverside.
Faauuga was soon after recruited by the Bayview YMCA to develop student advocacy programs for the Center for Academic Re-entry Empowerment Center. His efforts helped chronically truant students transition and flourish in the program. His continued success attracted the attention of Burton High School, that was developing a community-school approach to education. At the time, Burton had the city’s highest push-out rate and was on the verge of closing down due to low enrollment. After four years, the community school approach Faauuga helped implement increased the school’s attendance by 400 students and decreased the push-out rate by 50%, the largest decrease in San Francisco. Today, Burton High School is the premier public high school in the Southeast side of San Francisco.
While at Burton, Faauuga also extended his support to the PUMA Prevent initiative, addressing the high amounts of rape incidents in the United States by student athletes. PUMA Prevent reached nearly 3,000 student athletes in San Francisco, addressing male privilege and educating athletes on consent.
Post-Graduate to Present
At this point in his career, Faauuga realized that his educational training was not sufficient to support the underserved students and families of SFUSD. This led him to San Jose State once again, where he studied in the School of Social Work with a concentration on mental health and social justice. When he was not studying the impact of mental health and public housing on education, Faauuga was interning for the SFUSD Student Intervention Team and supporting the Project Prevent initiative in trauma-informed schools. He spent a school year at Carver Elementary, providing school wide support systems and individual counseling for the students and educators.
After graduating, Faauuga was recruited by the Richmond Area Multi Services to be the therapist for June Jordan High School. During that time, June Jordan underwent an unfortunate shooting that traumatically impacted the school. By working alongside the school social worker and providing mental health services, Faauuga helped survivors of the shooting to heal and transition back to school.
Today, Faauuga works for the Department of Public Health Comprehensive Crisis Services as a clinician. Once a week, Faauuga dedicates his time to Downtown High School where he provides trauma informed practices for students. Faauuga, however, is ready for the next stage in his career and the next opportunity to advocate for the students, families, and teachers of the SFUSD — running for San Francisco’s Board of Education.
Not only am I a San Francisco native and San Francisco Unified School District alumni, but I am also the first Pacific Islander candidate for School Board. I represent a severely neglected community impacted by high poverty rates, increased incarceration, and low college readiness. My campaign focuses on key issues that not only impact Pacific Islanders but all our students — the opportunity gap.
I have spent 14 years in education utilizing my skills in mental health and tackling issues around truancy, push-out rates, trauma, youth development, social emotional learning, affordability and community schools. I returned to San Jose to pursue a Masters in Social Work while working full time at Burton High School and Carver Elementary. The outcome of this work led to the largest decrease in drop rates at Burton High School, and the founding of the SFUSD CARE Center, a school supporting students who were chronically truant to re-engage back into mainstream education. I also led a student athlete campaign with young men in SFUSD to promote consent in an effort to decrease rape. This effort led to nearly 3,000 student athletes receiving education and pledging to the consent campaign in two years. Today, I work closely with the SFUSD leadership team to create systemic changes to support Pacific Islander students. I am currently working with commissioners Cook, Mendoza, and Walton to introduce a resolution in March that will begin addressing the opportunity gap among Pacific Islanders. Finally, I was recruited by the Department of Public Health to build Wellness Centers in San Francisco Public Housing to address the violence, addiction, and mental health issues preventing our families from being able to live in safe and supportive communities. I currently work for Comprehensive Crisis Services, and spend one day a week at Downtown Continuation High School providing trauma informed services for HOPESF students impacted by violence in their neighborhoods.