Marin County Friday Night Live

Friday Night Live (FNL) is a statewide organization that addresses underage substance abuse. At YLI, we take a social justice lens to the work, shifting the focus from individual behaviors to the larger patterns of injustice that target young, low-income people of color, and encourage unhealthy behaviors. By helping youth identify issues in their communities, conduct research, and implement media and policy campaigns, YLI doesn’t simply deter young people from substance abuse — we help to shape powerful advocates who create lasting change in their communities.

In Marin County, YLI staff lead 8 chapters, ensuring that they are aligned with the FNL Standards of Practice and Operating Principles. These chapters include:

FNL youth leaders played a key role in passing Social Host Ordinances in the City of Novato — and then county-wide — which hold adults responsible for underage drinking in their homes. A key contribution was a restorative justice approach for youth caught drinking and/or using illegal substances, covered in this Marin Independent Journal article and this YLI blog post.

Other campaigns include:

  • Educating local merchants and the Novato City Council about Lee Law, which reduces exposure to alcohol by capping alcohol-related advertising to 33% of window space.
  • Reducing stigma around gender-neutral bathrooms by creating fliers and other materials that drew on insights gained from over 300 surveys. The story was covered in this YLI blog post.

In 2018, the Marin FNL chapters focused on mental health and substance abuse (including vaping). Strategies included conducting a Social Norms survey, which collected data on perceptions, behaviors and impacts associated with mental health and substance abuse. This data analyzed why and to what extent students are using illegal substances, and their perceptions of substance abuse among their peers. Actual usage is often far lower than perceived, and revealing this difference can powerfully diffuse perceived pressure to use substances. The data can also inform campaigns aimed at limiting substance abuse by identifying motivations for usage, like stress, and better connecting students to resources.

FNL leaders are also working to gain an understanding of homelessness, housing challenges, and the policies adopted around the Bay Area to address this issue. Campaign strategies included conducting a focus group and presenting the findings to the Board of Supervisors, and developing a media campaign to raise awareness of the issue.

Programs are open to all youth at each site, and youth are welcome to join at any time. Interested youth can reach out to the site coordinator. Each chapter meets twice weekly at their school site during the school year.

To start a chapter at your school, and for general information contact Anna Salem at [email protected].