Youth Chance High School
Youth Chance offers a healthy and supportive learning environment where students that have not succeeded in traditional schools, can reach their full potential.
Each year, principals, parole officers, counselors, teachers, parents and program alumni refer students who need a fresh start to the safe, supportive environment at Youth Chance High School. The students come from very low-income families and more than half have been in the juvenile justice system and/or foster care system. At Youth Chance, these high-risk inner-city youth earn a diploma while gaining academic, vocational and life skills necessary to become self-sufficient, socially responsible young adults. Given the multiple challenges these students face, earning a high school diploma is a monumental achievement. Nelly Crisostomo, Youth Chance High School Class of 2011, enrolled in September 2009. Despite caring for a grandmother who has had three strokes while she attended Youth Chance, Nelly graduated and now attends City College.
"It feels great. I feel it took a long time for me to do it, but it finally happened all this hard work. . . hard work pays off," said Jonathan Ramirez when he graduated from Youth Chance High School. Ramirez plans to become a barber.
– Nelly Crisostomo
Did you know that for the last five years 94% of youth victims of homicide have been high school dropouts?
More than a third of all California teens drop out of high school.
Contact: Gina Young at 415/957-9622 or email
Address: 169 Steuart Street
Serves: San Francisco teens, ages 25-40 students
Hours: Mon–Fri, 9am–1pm
Demographics: 35% Hispanic, 30% African American, 20% Asian & Pacific Islander, 7% Caucasian, 5% Native American, 3% other. 95% are very low income, 50% of the female students have been or are pregnant.
Pacific Gas & Electric
Youth Chance High School was established at the Embarcadero YMCA in 1978, funded in part by the Mayor’s Office, to help youth “get off the streets” and enter the job market.
In 1979, Youth Chance was granted private school status by the California Department of Education. For more than 30 years, this school has combined academic enrichment and vocational training with YMCA character values and youth development practices to help students with the greatest need find a path to move on to their adult lives with dignity, mentors, job skills and high school diplomas.
Marvin Reynoso is studying to be an X-ray technician at San Francisco City College. Last year he was the first in his family to graduate from high school. The 18 year old had flirted with gang violence, gotten in trouble with the authorities and dropped out. How did he end up graduating? He came to Youth Chance High School, an Embarcadero YMCA community program funded by donors like you.
I wasn't doing too good, I just dropped out and was getting caught up in all sorts of trouble. I wouldn't be able to get my diploma at all if I went to a regular high school. I probably would have just stopped going. You have got to think positive and do what's best for you, get your career started and take care of your family
—Marvin Reynoso, Youth Chance High School 2011 graduate
This program of the Embarcadero YMCA is a free private high school that helps teens who have failed to succeed in the public high school system. For 34 years, Youth Chance has helped teens in trouble learn critical personal skills for successful, contributing adult lives.
Last spring, Marvin was one of 18 students who graduated from Youth Chance High School. More than 350 people, mostly proud family and friends, showed up for the graduation ceremony in our gymnasium. There were speeches, tears, flowers, balloons and a palpable sense that anything is possible. More than half of the students were the first in their families to graduate from high school.