San Mateo’s Programs focus on:

Transportation Justice – Transportation connects people to opportunities.This movement is building power for transit riders in San Mateo by ensuring that transportation planning includes our voices and prioritizes our community’s needs.

Health Equity – Youth and adults addressing inequity through data driven recommendations and policy solutions impacting schools, communities, and the city.

Financial and Economic Justice – Youth in low income communities are working to fight predatory financial practices in their communities, and are teaching their peers about healthy financial practices.

TEAMC (Transportation Justice)

Thousands of people in San Mateo County rely on public transportation to get to school, to work, to job interviews, and back home to their families. The location of bus stops, routes and frequency of service, among other factors, can profoundly impact a community’s access to opportunity for those who need it most: low-income communities, communities of color, youth, seniors, and people with disabilities.

Your voice matters.

Right now, SamTrans is working to put a sales tax measure on next year’s ballot to provide $80 million for projects that improve our transportation system in South San Francisco and Half Moon Bay. Transportation Equity Allied Movement Coalition (TEAMC) is a coalition of ~20 community organizations that is working to ensure that the projects funded by this sales tax prioritize the needs of our communities.

Click here to read our Principles to learn more about what we stand for. Sign up for our e-newsletter and follow our Facebook page to get regular updates, and to find out about ways to plug in.

San Mateo County Youth Commission (Youth Civic Engagement)

The San Mateo County Youth Commission is an official 25 member youth-led advisory body to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. You can improve the lives of all young people throughout San Mateo County, offer youth’ perspective on important issues facing our community, and work directly with the Board of Supervisors and County departments as a leader and voice of all youth.

SMCYC has its own website San Mateo County Government Pages; check it out!

For more information contact: Adam Wilson,

San Mateo County Friday Night Live (Health Equity: Underage Alcohol Prevention)

San Mateo County Friday Night Live programs have FNL and Club Live chapters in each region of the geographically diverse county from semi-urban Daly City in the North, suburban Menlo Park in the South, and rural Pescadero on the Coast. Each FNL Chapter is run and staffed by local Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and trained by YLI to engage in Environmental Prevention community and school change projects with an emphasis on youth-led action research, youth-adult partnerships, policy advocacy, social norms campaigns, and evaluations. We partner with schools, community-based agencies, city and county stakeholders, and faith communities.

Working as a broad and synergistic network of youth groups and adult allies, San Mateo County FNL maximizes the resources necessary to initiate and sustain positive community change projects. The FNL Partnership offers different opportunities for involvement and an array of resources for all members inducing training, consultation and technical assistance provided by YLI staff. San Mateo County FNL is a collective of over 25+ local youth groups that are co-branded as FNL chapters taking on action locally across San Mateo County as a united front to amplify youth voice.

Coastside Youth Council (Health Equity: Underage Alcohol Prevention)

Coastside Youth Council (CYC) has been leading environmental prevention and community change efforts for over 4 years in Half Moon Bay. They focus on solutions that impact underage alcohol use, access, and messages. This year CYC focused on reducing the alcohol messages that youth are bombarded with every day. CYC conducted youth-led action research through observational assessments at the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival and their retail environment by assessing 8 convenient stores located near schools and youth-centered spaces. CYC believes that addressing strategies to reduce underage drinking in social or retail settings will make a long-term, healthy impact in the community.

Coastside Youth Council Group Pic

CYC is comprised of youth leaders from Half Moon Bay High School, Pilarcitos Continuation High School and the College of San Mateo between the ages of 15-20. Youth leaders come from working-class communities, immigrant families, and first-generation college backgrounds. Community service, social action activities, participation in advocacy for safe and healthy environments, and promotion of healthy policies are organized by youth to appeal to youth.

Finding Waves Making Changes 2015 Findings & Recommendations (PDF)

For more information contact: Montzerrat Bedolla,

Nutrition Soldiers (Health Equity: Food Justice)

sanmateoNutrition Soldiers is a food justice campaign that aims to increase nutrition, provide physical activity education and address access of healthy foods for the community residents of South San Francisco. The campaign started at Baden Continuation High School and is currently active in Parkway Middle School. Communities of color and with lower income levels have less healthy food options leading to obesity and diabetes. In a Photovoice image of an empty refrigerator, one youth wrote, “This is the reality that many of us face every morning when we wake up. This photo shows that a lot of us don’t have food in our fridge. Since I don’t eat breakfast at home I go to school hungry.” In a survey that the Youth Leadership Institute conducted with Baden High School over 50% of students feel tired, grumpy, and have stomachaches, which may be the cause of many of us to lose focus and do poorly in school.

Some recent outcomes of Nutrition Soldiers:
2015: Nutrition Soldiers partnered with South San Francisco Unified High School District Nutrition Services and has improved packaging for meals for better taste and quality at Parkway Heights Middle School.
2014: Nutrition Soldiers developed Photovoice projects with data-driven recommendations to change food systems at Baden Continuation High School. Based on these recommendations, students in partnership with adults provided workshops in Spanish aimed to have parents complete their free or reduced lunch applications.

Nutrition Soldiers Photovoice (PDF) Nutrition Soldiers Infographic (PDF)

Peninsula Advocates Investigating Debt Traps (Financial and Economic Justice)

sanmateo2Low-income families can find themselves in a cycle of poverty because the cash handling systems that are most available in their communities are often predatory payday lenders. These loans, which are disproportionately marketed to low-income and minority communities, can lead to repeated cash shortages that force consumers to take out successive payday loans, trapping them in vicious cycles of debt and has impacted the young people and families that we represent. PAID youth leaders in Daly City and South San Francisco are leading local anti-payday lending advocacy campaigns while building a movement to push federal legislation to regulate the predatory financial industry and advocate for quality youth financial products. PAID youth lead innovative community change efforts, build critical personal finance skills and are provided savings accounts to practice their new skill sets.

Some recent outcomes of PAID:

  • 2015 – PAID youth secured city resolution in support of federal regulations of the payday lending industry from Daly City
  • 2014 PAID youth lead 2nd School for Financial and Economic Justice in Fresno engaging youth from across the state
  • 2014 Policy victories in Daly City and South San Francisco that limit the number of payday lenders that can operate in their community
  • 2013 Daly City PAID youth facilitate the first School for Financial and Economic Justice in San Mateo County leading to recruiting youth from South San Francisco.

Are We Sweet Enough? Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Campaign (Health Equity, Food Justice)

Are We Sweet Enough? Is a dynamic team of nontraditional youth leaders from Daly City and South San Francisco communities. They are committed to increasing access to healthy foods and healthy beverages, specifically focusing on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB). For the past three years the movement has grown, building support for policies that reduce consumption of sugary drinks. Communities of color have much higher rates of obesity due to much higher access and consumption of Sugar Sweet Beverages such as soda. Currently, youth are leading efforts with Daly City council advocating for an ordinance that required food establishments in the city to provide water as the default option for Kids meals and menu option.

Recent program outcomes of Are We Sweet Enough?:

  • 2014: YLI youth met with elected officials from Daly City and South San Francisco who have expressed mixed feelings about the SSB tax, the pulse with local merchants who would be the most economically impacted by the tax and our strategy in fighting the powerful American Beverage Association. This prompted youth to facilitate merchant interviews with 7 small business/ corner merchants that reside near schools.
  • 2013: YLI hosted 2 youth of color-led community forums in South San Francisco and North Fair Oaks. YLI youth leaders hosted these forums mobilizing and collecting critical input from 50 local youth to lead the charge on building healthy communities.