What does Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth do?
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. We organize young people, parents, and San Francisco residents around campaigns that build leadership in our communities, win policy and budget solutions that improve the lives of SF poor and working class families, and create long-term social change in our communities.

We fight to keep families in San Francisco, to secure a strong future for young people of color in their own city, and to expand democratic participation in civic life. Since 2005, we have focused on winning education equity, good jobs, affordable family housing, and a strong safety net for low income families in the city budget.

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What can I do to help?

Sign up to receive our email alerts, join our supporter network, or make a donation today. If you are a low to moderate income student or parent/guardian of a child in San Francisco public schools, you may be interested in joining our family membership: call our organizing department at 415.239.0161 for more information.

I don’t have a lot of time, what are some things I can do?

History is made through the efforts of everyday people. Each contribution makes a difference. Get involved in your own school or neighborhood or join Coleman’s Supporter Network to get connected to thousands of like-minded people who care about the future of children but may not have a lot of time. Our email alerts have opportunities to make an impact: we can each spend five minutes sending an e-mail to the Mayor to save vital youth programs or call a School Board member to support college access for all students.

What is the Children’s Fund?

The Children’s Fund was the brainchild of Margaret Brodkin, Coleman’s Executive Director for twenty-six years. Since the Fund’s historic passage by city voters in 1991, the Children’s Fund has been a guaranteed source of funding for children each year in the San Francisco city budget, based on a percent of property tax revenue. Learn more at our Legacy page or at the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families (DCYF). 

Where can I get more information about San Francisco children and families?

Visit the city’s Department of Children, Youth & Families’ website to get more information about San Francisco children and families. For information about the real poverty line and what it takes to make ends meet for SF families, check out the SF Self-Sufficiency Standard

Where can I learn more about your staff or find a bio for a staff member?

Go to our Staff and Board page, to find a bio and contact information for a staff member.

Is Coleman’s community center available for community meetings or events?

Yes. Coleman Advocates’ community center has conference room and community event space available for rent. Please call us at 415.239.0161 for more information. We also lease space to child and family serving agencies. Our current tenants are: APA Family Services and Mission Neighborhood Centers/Mission Head Start

Does this work really make a difference?

Absolutely! We are making a concrete difference in the lives of thousands of low income children and families in San Francisco. Check out some of our accomplishments over the decades since we were founded:

1983: Coleman wins major juvenile justice reforms – youth arrested for truancy or running away are no longer jailed and are instead treated at Huckleberry House. The new community-based system includes 24-hour intake at shelters and 60 new family shelter beds.

1986: Coleman Advocates persuades Board of Supervisors to sponsor a Ballot Initiative to fund after school programs for youth; Voters pass Proposition D.

1987: Coleman Advocates’ 10-point Children’s Agenda is adopted as official City policy by Board of Supervisors.

1988: Coleman Advocates’ speak-out on Children’s Issues for Mayor attracts 600 attendees; First ‘Children’s Budget’ is drafted and Coleman-led advocacy prevents budget cuts to children’s services.

From 1988 on, Coleman Advocates participates in annual budget advocacy activities, advocating for the protection and expansion of the most crucial children and families services and programs, winning millions of dollars annually in restorations and expansions.

1989: Mayor creates Office for Children, Youth, and Their Families, as recommended in the Children’s Budget.

1991: Coleman Advocates organizes fifty thousand voters to sign petitions to put the landmark Children’s Amendment on the ballot; SF becomes the first city in the country to guarantee funding each year for children.

1993: YMAC collaborates with the SFUSD Student Advisory Council to create YouthVote.

1995: YMAC conducts first YouthLine survey that provides the foundation for its YouthTime campaign that results in the creation of the Beacon Initiative.

1995: YMAC launches community campaign to win a city-funded Youth Commission, which is ultimately achieved through a ballot initiative.

1996: YMAC helps win new SFUSD Ethnic Studies requirements in English.

1997: Coleman successfully advocates for city funding for the first five SFUSD Beacon Centers.

1997: YMAC works with other youth groups to conduct a Youth Services Evaluation and related community outreach to influence city budget decisions; Work is institutionalized by the city as YouthLine.

2000: Coleman successfully advocates for the resources to launch the first Wellness Centers at seven SFUSD High Schools.

2001: Coleman leads successful campaign to reauthorize the Children’s Amendment. The new legislation increases the size of the Children’s Fund and extends the Amendment until 2016.

2002: Coleman leads & wins campaign to reform racially biased intake system at YGC/juvenile hall.

2002: YMAC helps to lead a community coalition in response to police violence against Black students at Thurgood Marshall High School.

2003: Coleman supports efforts to win Proposition H, to provide better civilian oversight of the SFPD.

2003: Coleman helps create the SF Parent Advisory Council, offering parents opportunities for engagement with SFUSD.


2004: Coleman provides key leadership to the Great Schools campaign that won passage of Prop H (aka “PEEF”), which invests up to $60 million a year in city funds to SF public schools.

2005: YMAC wins campaign to fix and improve the quality of SF public school bathrooms.

2007: As part of our “Jobs Stop Violence” campaign, YMAC helps to develop and implement Job Assist, a new school based employment services program.

2008: In response to Coleman advocacy, the Board of Ed passes the Close the Racial Achievement Gap Resolution.

2009: Coleman wins the SFUSD “A thru G/College and Career for all” Policy designed to graduate all SFUSD students ready for college, career or trade in SF.

2010: Coleman, along with SOMCAN, PODER, FCC, CPA, CJJC, MUA, SF Day Labor/La Collectiva, POWER, launch the San Francisco Rising (SFR) Electoral Alliance to build political power in low-income communities of color.

2010: Coleman helps win Board of Ed Resolution to expand Ethnic Studies Pilot program to five High Schools.


2011: Coleman and Youth Commission successfully advocate for the prioritization of disconnected, undocumented and transitional-aged youth in the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Plan.

2012: Coleman, as part of the Progressive Revenue Coalition, helps develop and win Prop E, an alternative business tax structure ballot initiative that raises additional revenue for critical services.

2012: YMAC successful advocates for an expansion of the Mayor’s Summer Jobs for Youth Initiative to include opportunities for undocumented youth.

2012: Coleman, with partners in CUHJ, wins campaign to pressure SF transit officials to convert an old rail yard known as the “Upper Yard” into an affordable housing complex. 

2012: Coleman successful advocates for new funding for job readiness programs in District 11, where there has been zero historical city investment in workforce development.

2012: Coleman hosts the SF Rising field operation to pass Prop 30, the statewide increase in the income tax for wealthy that brought in additional millions for local school districts.


2013: Coleman participates in a successful campaign to win a Local Hiring Policy for SFUSD.

2013: Coleman and allies successfully advocate for Board of Supes to pass a $2.3 million supplemental appropriation for SFUSD to support the 1,800 students at serious risk of not graduating.

2013: Coleman participates in successful state-level advocacy to win the Local Control Funding Formula legislation that creates a more equitable allocation of state funding for public education.

2014: Coleman wins the first phase of its Solutions Not Suspensions Campaign: major reforms to SFUSD’s approach to school discipline with passage of the Safe and Supportive Schools Resolution, authored by Commissioner Haney.

2014: After 3 years of negotiation in which Coleman played a leadership role, the BOE approves a new MOU between the SFUSD and SFPD to reduce student arrests and police presence on campuses.

2014: Coleman leads a 2-year coalition effort to develop and win the passage of Prop C, the “Children and Families First” initiative. Prop C renews more than $125 million in annual funding for school and children’s programs across the city, for the next 25 years.

2014: Coleman participates in coalition efforts that result in the SF Board of Ed passing a Resolution to institutionalize Ethnic Studies in ALL schools in the district, including new courses, teachers, coaches, professional development, and student/family engagement structures.