Who We Are

Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth is a member-led, multi-racial community organization working to create a city of hope, opportunity, and justice for all children and all families in San Francisco.

Over the last 40 years, Coleman has become the leading voice for low income youth and families in San Francisco.

Through grassroots leadership development, youth and parent organizing, budget and policy advocacy, civic engagement and strategic alliance-building, Coleman has transformed public institutions, improved the lives of tens of thousands of residents, and become a national model for community-driven change.


Coleman members are the families struggling to stay in San Francisco. We are low income and working class young people and parents, primarily from the city’s southeastern African American, Latino and Pacific Islander communities.  With our supporters, partners and allies, we are uniting communities across the city to make change for the next generation of San Francisco.

Grassroots leaders are the heart and soul of this organization. Coleman families’ membership meetings are lively spaces, full of debate, lots of food and the sound of children’s or young people’s laughter.  Every week, leaders are meeting in local elementary, middle and high schools, gathering up the courage to speak out, building unity across race, language and generations, and winning issue campaigns that make a real difference, together.

Parents Making a Change (PMAC) empowers low-income parents of color (and other guardians) with children in San Francisco Head Start programs and public elementary schools to be effective advocates for positive change in their schools and communities. PMAC has developed the leadership, skills, and confidence of thousands of parents and supported them to lead high-impact policy and budget reform efforts on issues ranging from bilingual and special education programming to student access to technology resources to expansion of childcare resources and workforce development programs. Coleman has more than twenty years of experience creating or strengthening vehicles for family and community participation in the San Francisco school system, including the establishment of the SF Parent Advisory Council.

Youth Making a Change (YMAC) has been organizing low-income high school students of color in San Francisco since 1991. YMAC’s youth-led advocacy efforts have organized thousands of youth to stand for students’ right to voice concerns about their education and provided many resources for San Francisco’s high schools, including the Wellness Centers and SF Youth Vote. YMAC prides itself on its pioneering hybrid model of member-led grassroots organizing, sharp policy and budget advocacy and deep civic engagement. We compliment these central strategies with individual/group academic and personal support and the community-building activities that we see as essential to sustainable community organizing.  We work to build committed life-long leaders who exert leadership at four levels: in their own life, in YMAC campaigns, in our organization, and in the larger movements for racial and economic justice.



Coleman is governed by a strong and representative Board of Directors, and has a proud history of remarkably talented staff. The faces of Coleman staff are above; you can find our bios and contact info in the staff directory >> here.

Many former Coleman staff alumni have gone on to prominent roles in public service – Margaret Brodkin to run the city’s Department of Children, Youth & Their Families (below) ; John Avalos to serve as the District 11 City Supervisor (below); Sandra Lee Fewer to serve on the SF School Board (below); Tom Jackson as a legislative aide at City Hall; Ingrid Gonzalez to lead a major retention program at City College, and many others over the decades. Some Coleman alumni have gone on to serve as national leaders in labor, community organizing and advocacy fields, including Taj James, Executive Director of the Movement Strategy Center, Joe Wilson as a state leader of AFSCME’s statewide child care organizing campaigns, and NTanya Lee, director of a national progressive initiative called Project 2040 (below).