Our young people are not only the future of our neighborhoods, but also key to thriving communities today. To foster the leadership potential of Chinatown youth, Chinatown CDC created the Adopt-An-Alleyway Youth Project in 1991. The project was part of the neighborhood service and empowerment program of Chinatown CDC and served to improve the conditions of Chinatown’s alleyways through youth-led neighborhood service activities. Since then, our youth programs have expanded to address a wide range of needs in our community.
The Chinatown CDC Youth Leadership Program offers young people intensive involvement in community issues. Our programs give youth opportunities to learn more about their community and apply what they learn through direct services to become effective future community leaders.
Adopt-an-Alleyway (AAA) Youth Project
Today, AAA remains a youth-run, youth-led community service and leadership program. AAA youth organize, recruit, and lead peers in monthly neighborhood clean-ups and alleyway beautification projects. Beyond monitoring neighborhood cleanliness the program has expanded to include youth services to elderly tenants who live in low-income or residential hotel housing, and recreational activities for younger children of low-income families. For more information, please visit Adopt-an-Alleyway Youth Project website.
In 2001 Chinatown CDC’s Youth team conducted oral history interviews and academic research to develop a more comprehensive perspective on Chinatown’s history. From this research the youth developed CATs—designing a tour route, script, and training manual—and began to offer guided tours through Chinatown’s many alleyways. The tours include a history of Chinatown and offer alternative perspectives of the neighborhood you might not get on regular tours. The youth lead tours for schools, individuals, families, tourists, and non-profit organizations. For more information and to schedule a tour, please visit the Chinatown Alleyway Tours website.
Youth for SROs Program (YSRO)
YSRO engages young people in community service and leadership to improve the quality of life for single room occupancy (SRO) hotel residents. The program offers intergenerational service activities, including culinary and cultural exchanges between elderly Chinatown residents and youth. Recently YSRO developed a culturally and linguistically appropriate disaster preparedness workshop for monolingual Chinese-speaking residents. Youth facilitate these workshops to SRO residents in buildings across Chinatown.
Campaign Academy is a leadership training and scholarship program designed to give young leaders the skills and knowledge to lead a campaign to make positive change in their community. Each year, we recruit a core of 8 to 10 youth leaders to organize a campaign on a community issue selected by the group. The youth leaders research the issue, identify targets, develop strategies, and organize their peers and allies to achieve their campaign goal. Previous youth-organized campaigns include: advocating for healthier school lunches, improvements to the Community HUBS/Open Space Project in Chinatown, and most recently implementing Ethnic Studies in the San Francisco Unified School District.
Advocates for Community Change, Empowerment and Social Services (ACCESS)
Launched in 2009 to foster leadership opportunities for young adults and transitional aged youth ACCESS provides young people service, advocacy, and mentorship opportunities to maintain and build connections within the community. The program encourages civic engagement in young adults to bring about change to the community.