community

Community Youth Center Expands Programs for Sunset District Youth

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.

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 Stella Luo (left to right), Niko Huang, Rain Wong and Katherine Cheang play charades at a Community Youth Center after-school program. Courtesy photo.

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.

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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

enrichment activities.

 

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

computer skills.

 

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

centers.

 

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.

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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.

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