What We Do

Coleman Advocates for Children & Youth is a member-led, multiracial community organization, organizing young people and parents to make change in their schools, their communities, and in their own lives. 

We have two primary grassroots leadership projects, Youth Making a Change (YMAC) and Parents Making a Change (PMAC)

Through a national model of grassroots leadership development, youth and parent organizing, budget and policy advocacy, civic engagement and strategic alliance-building, Coleman is transforming public schools, increasing city investments in a local safety-net, and winning economic opportunities for thousands of young people of color and their families.

With the leadership of young people at the center of our work, Coleman member families’ identify common community problems, conduct research to find solutions, and build a base of support needed to win their policy, budget and civic engagement campaigns.



PMAC organizes parents and guardians of San Francisco public school children to secure a better future for themselves, their children and their communities.


PMAC parents are organizing in “low-performing” elementary and middle schools in San Francisco, in schools where students face the greatest barriers to success. Parents learn how to become advocates for their own children, to become parent leaders at their schools, and how to build collective power to change policies at the school district. In recent years, a few examples of PMAC parent victories include:

  • Resolution of parent grievances regarding discipline, special education, ESL student needs, and culturally appropriate school activities;
  • Increased parent voice through stronger school site councils and ELACs;
  • A new elementary school technology center;
  • A new school plan for parent-teacher collaboration to improve classroom learning;
  • Increased parent oversight of federal “school improvement grant” funds;
  • The creation of the SFUSD Parent Advisory Council (PAC) which advises the school board;
  • Passage of the “Close the Achievement Gap” school board resolution, and
  • Passage of the landmark “A-G College & Career for All” policy, with YMAC
  • Expansion of resources at target schools, including literacy programming, tutoring supports, and technology.
  • Passage of the landmark “Safe and Supportive Schools Resolution, with YMAC



YMAC organizes young people of color in San Francisco public high schools to improve their own lives, their schools, and their communities.

Founded in 1991, YMAC is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful youth organizing programs in the nation, with hundreds of alumni across the country. YMAC students organize their peers in San Francisco’s racially diverse high schools, working to overcome the widest racial achievement and opportunity gap of any urban school system in California.  YMAC focuses on building the leadership of Black, Latino and Pacific Islander students because they face the greatest barriers to graduation and the least opportunities to graduate prepared for a college or a good job. Through YMAC, students become strong advocates for themselves and each other, develop membership bases on campus that win improvements in their own schools, and build unity across high schools, with Coleman parent leaders and with allied youth movement organizations. YMAC gives struggling students the opportunity to work together to identify problems and win policy solutions that improve the lives of thousands of the city’s young people, becoming community leaders and life-long agents of change. A few examples of YMAC student victories include:

  • Winning student grievances around student discipline, bathroom security policies, and anti-gay harrassment;
  • Winning $1.4 million to start 7 school-based Wellness Centers, which are now in every major high school and middle school in the school district;
  • Creating the SF Youth Commission, funding staff for the Student Advisory Committee to the School Board, and winning start-up capital funds for YouthSpace.
  • Winning reforms at juvenile hall which led to a significant decrease in the un-necessary incarceration of young people of color who posed no public safety threat;
  • Winning increased funding for school-based youth employment services;
  • Winning passage of the “Close the Achievement Gap” school board resolution; and
  • Winning passage of the landmark “A-G College & Career for All” policy, with P-MAC, that now allows all students the opportunity take the courses they need to be prepared and eligible any four-year college in California, instead of a select few.
  • Winning major reforms to SFUSD’s approach to school discipline with passage of the Safe and Supportive Schools Resolution.
  • Winning a new MOU between the SFUSD and SFPD to reduce student arrests and police presence on campuses.
  • Helping to win a resolution to institutionalize Ethnic Studies in ALL schools in the district.