Building on the foundation for success developed during early childhood and the elementary and middle school years, DCYF's investments in youth ages 13-25 are meant to advance a vision in which all of San Francisco's young adults are able to reach their educational, career, and personal life goals. The Youth Leadership, Empowerment, and Development (YLEAD) service area provides intentionality and coordination among DCYF’s existing Youth Workforce Development (YWD), Specialized Teen, Wellness Initiative, and Youth Empowerment Fund program areas, serving youth primarily in their teen years. As a core service area, YLEAD establishes holistic youth development strategies that include a range of specific opportunities that support San Francisco’s middle school, high school, and transitional-aged youths’ successful transitions into adulthood. YLEAD seeks to provide quality programs and services that meet youth where they are, and then support them to progress toward the next step in their development. This core service area seeks to support opportunities and outlets for youth to build their individual competencies, form positive self- and group identity, increase their capacity to make healthy decisions, develop self-sufficiency skills, establish healthy youth-adult relationships, make meaningful contributions to their communities, and succeed in reaching their educational, career, and personal goals.
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Youth Workforce Development programs prepare young people for future educational and career success. For young people to thrive as adults, they need a strong academic foundation and the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be successful in the workplace. In addition to these benefits for young people, a citywide emphasis on youth workforce development helps ensure employers have a ready supply of local talent to meet industry demands, and the city economy ultimately benefits from growth of jobs, incomes, and businesses. Organizations and initiatives funded under the Youth Workforce Development focus area advance DCYF's objective to support youth work readiness, 21st century skills development, career awareness, and school success.
Specialized Teen programs can help young people navigate their way through adolescence and young adulthood. They can offer experiences that help youth acquire the skills that will promote their success in high school, college, the labor market, and life. They can teach and reinforce critical thinking, problem solving, and other soft skills; they can provide services to shore up weak academic skills and raise student aspirations; they can foster student confidence, a sense of self-efficacy, and a culture of learning; and they can offer supports to address personal and social issues commonly faced by teenagers, providing access to key resources, including peer support groups. DCYF supports both school year and summer programs, and plans to place particular emphasis on summer offerings in order to counter summer learning loss and ease middle school students' transition into high school.
Through the Youth Empowerment Fund (YEF), DCYF brings youth leadership and voice in community change to the core of its funding strategies. By funding youth empowerment programs that give youth authentic power, the YEF challenges traditional youth development agencies and programs that see youth purely as receivers of services with little voice, input, and power in the decision-making process. The YEF sees youth as central players in decision making, offering youth respect, leadership development opportunities, and real information about the way the world works. Through the YEF, youth from all over San Francisco have the opportunity to apply for funding toward their youth-led projects, as well as participate in grant making, program support, and evaluation.
The mission of the San Francisco Wellness Initiative is to improve the health, well-being, and educational outcomes of San Francisco’s high school students by providing comprehensive, school based student health programming focused on prevention and early intervention in areas critical to student wellness. Wellness programs serve over 7,000 youth annually at 15 SFUSD high schools.