By Judith Kahn
The Community Youth Center of San Francisco (CYC) was founded in 1970 at a time when
there was an increasing awareness of social issues and activism in the Asian community.
The aim of CYC was to address the problems of juvenile delinquency and gang violence
in the Asian community raging during that time.
The CYC was established to provide youths with alternatives and access to legitimate
means of achieving their aspirations and independence as well as reaching their highest
potential as individuals with a positive self and cultural identity. Its goal is to create
a physically and emotionally safe environment for its staff and youth community. It
serves 5,000 youths and families.
The CYC has six components to its program: behavioral health, workforce development,
leadership development, early and intensive intervention, education (elementary,
middle and high schools) and community outreach.
Although the six components of its programs and services and the goals of CYC have
not changed, some of the problems within these components have altered. For example,
the type of educational needs of students, the health issues youth now face and the type
of drugs now used by youths have changed.
The CYC’s mission is to empower and strengthen a diverse population of high-need youth
and their families by providing comprehensive youth development through education,
employment training, advice and other support services.
The mental health issues students now face are more problematic and intervention
programs between parents and students have increased. The youth center conducts
citywide parent counseling and empowerment training programs for Chinese migrant
parents on a weekly basis.
The workshops and support groups enable parents to understand their children’s needs,
know their parental rights, share individual experiences, improve family relationships,
discuss strategies and solutions, and utilize community resources. The
CYC has also published bilingual parenting guides for families and hosted multiple
parent summits for families in Chinatown.
The services that CYC provide are many. Each program offers various skills to succeed in
a given area. In its educational program, CYC provides academic resources and
counseling to aid youth in their high school completion and college preparation.
There are several after-school tutorial programs connected to various school-based
projects, where youth receive help with homework. The agency also provides
school-based dropout prevention workshops. Counselors are located within middle and
high schools to work directly with students to provide academic support and
In the employment program, counselors assist youth with after-school and summer
employment placements. The youth center also provides workshops that focus on
interviewing skills, resume writing and job application procedures, as well as
A variety of youth development activities include leadership training and development
workshops to enhance the youth’s knowledge and awareness of community issues.
Most of the services provided by CYC are geared to help Asian youth, but it will also help
non-Asian groups, too.
The CYC has four centers in San Francisco, with its main office located at 1038 Post St.
There are also branch offices in the Bayview, at 4438 Third St., and two in the Richmond,
at 319 Sixth Ave. and 950 Clement St.
Each of the centers works with schools or other institutions in the area. For instance, the
Richmond centers interact with George Washington High School and Presidio Middle
School. The Bayview branch works closely with the Bayview-Hunters Point Mobilization
for Adolescent Growth in our Communities and the Third Street Youth Center and Clinic.
In the Sunset, the CYC has partnered with Sunset MYEEP (Mayor ’s Youth Employment
Education Program), a collaboration of non-profit organizations that provide workforce
development for youth in 11 different neighborhoods in San Francisco.
Its mission is to provide job readiness training, work experience, academic support and
personal development for San Francisco youth with job challenges. The CYC also
provides a variety of activities, including year-round team sport activities, in order
to promote healthy lifestyles, sportsmanship and teamwork.
In July, the CYC Sunset hosted Fitness Day at the Sunset Playground to encourage youth
during the summer months to get out into their parks and stay active. Youth from the
high school summer programs participate in dodge ball, basketball and volleyball
tournaments, while elementary school students participate in a variety of activities that
encourage an active life.
The CYC Sunset has program coordinators at Abraham Lincoln High School, enabling
students to participate in all of the other programs offered by CYC at other
According to Sara Ching Ting Wan, executive director at the CYC for the past 15 years,
funding is always difficult but there is another challenge that needs to be addressed – the
model minority myth. She states that the myth “postulates that Asians or Asian
Americans are succeeding and doing well as a population.”
“This myth prevents people from seeing the realities of challenges faced by Asian and
Asian-American communities,” Wan said.
For example, she points out that here in the Bay Area there are many Asian tech
workers, which contributes to the idea that Asians and Asian Americans are
educated and have the resources to succeed. But, in reality, there are many immigrant
families living in Chinatown and the Sunset and Richmond districts who still
need support services.
To learn more about the CYC, visit the website at http://www.cycsf.org or call (415) 775-2636.