Did You Know?
In SFUSD, Black students are 6 times more likely to be suspended than white students.
70% of all suspensions in SFUSD are of African American and Latino students.
Coleman Advocates is nationally known as a community-organizing powerhouse. We believe that the voices and perspectives of low-income youth and parents are essential to developing real solutions to the problems plaguing our schools and communities.
The heart of our work is empowerment. We’ve trained thousands of young people and parents to organize for change.
These programs are highly successful. From the nation’s first tax set-aside for children’s services to alternatives to incarceration for vulnerable youth, to landmark education equity reforms, Coleman members have developed, advocated for, and won policy and budget changes that have improved conditions and expanded opportunities for hundreds of thousands of San Francisco children and families.
And the reach of our member-led campaigns goes far beyond San Francisco. Our successes have inspired similar reforms throughout the state and country.
At Coleman, we use 5 interrelated strategies to achieve our ambitious community change agenda:
1. Building a base and developing leaders: Coleman brings large numbers of youth and families together to build power and take action to hold systems accountable to the community’s needs and interests. We support members to take leadership in changing the conditions in their lives, develop a shared analysis of community problems, build skills and confidence, organize other leaders and supporters, and participate in collective action.
2. Organizing policy and budget campaigns: Coleman supports our members to conduct research to identify policy solutions to community problems and to choose, lead and win policy and budget reform campaigns. Currently, we are focused on developing new resources and implementing reforms to end the school-to-prison pipeline and to expand district opportunities for parent education and leadership.
3. Engaging and educating voters: Coleman carries out nonpartisan voter engagement efforts to educate and empower historically disenfranchised communities in San Francisco and to hold our elected officials accountable to our communities’ interests.
4. Monitoring systems and policies: Coleman members play critical system “watchdog” roles in our schools and communities – sometimes as leaders in official district/city taskforces and working groups – to analyze problems, design solutions, support policy implementation, and ensure that institutions are held accountable to commitments made.
5. Building alliances and coalitions: Coleman helps to develop and lead local, state and national coalitions and alliances to build bridges across issues and communities and grow the diverse base and abundant resources necessary for long-term systems change.
Coleman members are the heart and soul of our work. Engaged parents and young people join Coleman because they know they cannot fight our community’s problems alone. Coleman membership meetings are lively spaces, full of debate, lots of food, and the sound of laughter.
Members join, pay dues, and take action together. Leaders meet together weekly in local elementary, middle and high schools, gather the courage to speak out and build unity across race, language and generations. Together, they envision and lead issue campaigns that make a real difference.
Parents Making a Change (PMAC) is the program we created that empowers low-income parents of color (and other guardians) to advocate for positive change in their schools and communities. PMAC develops the leadership, skills, and confidence of thousands of parents.
Coleman provides on-going support as PMAC members 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.
Youth Making a Change (YMAC), going strong since 1991, is the groundbreaking program Coleman Advocates developed for organizing low-income high school students of color in San Francisco. YMAC has involved thousands of youth in youth-led advocacy efforts to stand for and win innovative programs for San Francisco’s high schools and students—including Wellness Centers and SF Youth Vote, as well as landmark policies to close the racial achievement gap.
YMAC is a hybrid model of member-led grassroots organizing, sharp policy and budget advocacy, and deep civic engagement. In addition, YMAC members receive individual and group academic and personal support, and community-building activities that we see as essential to sustainable community organizing.
Coleman’s hope is to develop committed life-long leaders who exert leadership in their own lives, in their schools, in our organization, and in movements for racial and economic justice.
Alliances & Coalitions
Alliance for Education Justice, Founding Member
Bay Area Equal Voice, Steering Committee
Bay Resistance, Steering Committee
Black to the Future, Founding Member
Close the Gap Coalition, Founding Member
Communities United for Health and Justice, Founding Member
Dignity in Schools Bay Area Chapter, Founding Member and Leadership Committee
Fix School Discipline Statewide Policy Coalition, participate in many working groups
Jobs with Justice San Francisco, Steering Committee
Movement for Black Lives Policy Table, United Front Member
National Dignity in Schools Campaign, Coordinating Committee
San Francisco Rising, Founding Member, Electoral Alliance, Leadership Committee
Yo! California, Founding Member and Steering Committee