A School that Makes You Feel Safe and Wanted
Youth Chance High School at Embarcadero YMCA
In June 2019, I was able to attend Embarcadero YMCA's Youth Chance High School graduation hosted at BlackRock. What is Youth Chance High School you may ask? Youth Chance High School (YCHS) is an alternative private high school located in San Francisco, California for teens that are at risk of not receiving a high school diploma due to obstacles and challenges they face in their daily lives. YCHS students range from ages 15 to 17 years old which most are of people of color.
As a Bank of America Student Leader, being at the graduation and witnessing the way the parents, families and friends cheered on these students was so heartwarming because I saw a glimpse of my future as a high school graduate next year. In the room, I felt the presence of joy in the students’ and families’ faces. I saw the bright smiles of the students and through the smiles, I see them as the changemakers and individuals that we need in society today. Coming from a community much like where these students are from, I understand the things they go through. I know many of my peers who don't come to school or fail classes which makes them fall behind on their credits and puts their graduation in jeopardy.
Many students don’t always have the support they need to prioritize their education which leads them to turn to other alternatives that are harmful to their wellbeing. It was so incredible to hear one graduate talk about how she attended three different schools before enrolling in Youth Chance High School which made her feel safe and wanted. I was especially touched by how she now goes to juvenile detention centers to volunteer with youth who might be in a similar position as she was before she attended Youth Chance High School.
Impacting the Future
I see that these students have grown to understand the community and the world around them. At this graduation, I got to see the future and the impact they will make in the world. This program has shown me that if you invest in youth who are struggling, like Bank of America, and other philanthropic partners, these students will become unstoppable and will fight through obstacles to reach their dreams.