What We Do

Leadership High School’s promise is simple: prepare every student for success in college and adult life.

The mission of Leadership High School is to to develop college-ready youth leaders whose lives are rooted in love, justice, resilience, emotional and physical well-being.

Ready for College

All Leadership students take a rigorous college-preparatory program. 100% of our graduates meet or exceed course eligibility requirements of the University of California and California State University Systems. (Compared to a state-wide rate of 40%.) Most students take multiple Advanced Placement courses. All students receive individualized college and scholarship application support.

Ready for Adult Life and Work

Leadership has designed its program to ensure that young people develop not only traditional academic skills needed for success in college but also broad human skills needed for success and satisfaction in adult work and life.

We call these skills our School Wide Outcomes (SWOs). They are:

  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Social Responsibility

Leadership graduates internalize the critical thinking, communication, personal responsibility, and social responsibility needed to be resilient and competitive in college and to lead themselves and their communities toward justice and self-reliance.

In order to graduate, all students compile and defend a portfolio of work showing their personal development in these four SWOs. We believe that young adults with these skills will be ready to lead themselves to success and prepared to take on meaningful leadership in our community.


What Is a Charter School?

A Charter School is a tuition-free public school that works independently of the school district. Charter Schools are responsible for administering all State assessments, but  have greater autonomy and choice in how to design their programs, who to hire, and how their budget works. This allows a Charter School to focus on a particular vision and to be more responsive to the needs of its individual students.

In order to have permission to operate, Charter Schools must submit extensive design plans to their overseeing Board of Education every five years. These design plans, called a Charter, explain the philosophy and core beliefs, curricula and programs, and operations and budget of the Charter School.

Leadership’s Charter was reviewed and recommended by the San Francisco Unified School District staff and unanimously approved by the SFUSD Board of Education.

Leadership’s most recent Charter was approved in 2017.


Our History

A Track Record of Success

Founded in 1997 by Mark Kushner, working with an interdisciplinary team from some of Harvard’s graduate schools, Leadership High School was born of a recognition of the tremendous value of cultivating leadership ability in youth and the desire to create a small, innovative, and rigorous school environment that would prepare high school students to succeed in college and to lead change in their communities.

Leadership has now graduated nearly 1,000 students, with over 94% of graduates going on to college. The high success rate—particularly with students who will be the first in their families to earn a four-year college degree—led the San Francisco Unified School District to unanimously approve the school’s charter renewal in 2017.

Leadership has been located at multiple sites throughout our history, but we have laid down strong roots in the Excelsior/Mission Terrace neighborhood and are excited to have started a new chapter in our permanent home at 350 Seneca Avenue in a state-of-the art facility.

Our history is characterized by proven success, resilience, and responsiveness to our students’ needs—and we are committed to staying true to that vision.