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Building the Future: Youth Organizing for Equity, Sustainability, and Justice

Wednesday, January 22, 2020 -
1:30pm to 4:00pm PST
Northern California Grantmakers
160 Spear Street, Suite 360, San Francisco, CA 94105
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Our children and young people, especially from low income and communities of color, bear the brunt of the mistakes and worsening systemic inequalities of previous generations - from displacement to inadequately funded education, from asthma to trauma, from climate change to criminalization, and the many disparities in between. As the recent Global Climate Strikes reminded us, young people are the keepers of our future and when they are organized, they are an irresistible force to be reckoned with.

Join us on January 22nd at Northern California Grantmakers from 1:30pm to 4:00pm for an exciting afternoon of deep learning from the latest youth organizing researchand field leaders to explore how organizations in the Bay Area are involving youth impacted by racial and economic disparities to help shape policies, systems and public narratives in ways that advance economic, racial, and environmental justice. We are building the day to provide learning space to:

  • Deepen our understanding of youth organizing as a critical strategy for social change in this political moment.
  • Explore how youth organizing as an approach intersects with issues of health, education, immigration, criminal justice, housing, and civic engagement.
  • Provide opportunities for funders to deepen their commitment and impact in the field of youth organizing.

Following the session, we hope you will join us for Happy Hour from 4:30-6:00pm at International Smoke, 301 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105.


Gema Quetzal, All City Council (Oakland Unified School District) alumni and former California State Board of Education youth member 

Gema Quetzal is a proud Salvadoran-Mexican community organizer from East Oakland, CA. Gema was the former Student Board Member, appointed by Governor Brown to California’s State Board of Education to represent 6.2 million students in the state for the term of 2018 - 2019 as the sole Student Member. Gema also served as the Student Director on OUSD’s Board of Education during the 2017-2018 school year. Gema speaks out for justice for all students and has organized students multiple times to participate in student-led marches on immigrant rights and for equitable education for all. 


Saa'un Bell, Strategy Director, Californians for Justice and Steering Committee member, Power California

As a Strategy Director, grounded in her southern roots of Greenville Alabama and Eastern Samar, Saa’un is the oldest of six, from a serious, but comical, working class Black and Filipino immigrant family. As a former English Language Learner student from Long Beach Unified School District and 1st generation college graduate, Saa’un is committed to building a public education infrastructure where all students have the opportunities to fulfill their highest aspirations. Saa’un joined CFJ in 2009 as an Organizer where they organized community college students and youth of color in Oakland schools. Currently, Saa’un oversees all communications & narrative strategy for CFJ’s regional and statewide campaigns. They are also an Associate at the Center for Story-based Strategy where they get to apply their story & strategic wizardry on statewide & national communication projects. Saa’un holds a BA in Philosophy.

Eric Braxton, Executive Director, Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing

Eric Braxton is the Executive Director of the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing, where he is continuing his lifelong commitment to supporting young people’s leadership for social justice. Eric’s involvement in youth organizing began at the age of 19 when he helped found the Philadelphia Student Union, which continues to organize public high school students for educational justice today. He has been involved with FCYO since 2001 as a grantee, board member, program officer, and now executive director. Over this time, Eric has developed a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing youth led organizations across the country. At FCYO, Eric has raised significant new resources for youth organizing groups and helped numerous funders develop programs in line with their goals. He has also played a key role in building infrastructure to support young people in increasing power, building strategic alliances, and creating transformative change. He has lived his entire life in West Philadelphia where he can often be found playing music with his son.

Nevin Chin, Youth Leader, Chinese Progressive Association and Steering Committee member, Youth Organize! California

Nevin Chin is a senior at Lick High School in San Francisco, and a youth leader with the Chinese Progressive Association. Together with members of Youth MOJO he organized a youth-led campaign, "Our Healing in Our Hands" to win $1.25 million in mental health resources in SFUSD including additional staffing for wellness centers, culturally congruent mental health services, and peer-led wellness coaching for students. Nevin has also represented CPA for 2 years as a steering committee member of Youth Organize! California, a statewide youth organizing network where he co-authored the Young People's Agenda which united youth organizing groups across the state around a shared platform and vision for a world where young people rise up and thrive like wildflowers.

Dr. Veronica Terriquez, Associate Professor in Sociology at UC Santa Cruz, leading researcher on Youth Organizing

Veronica Terriquez is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University California Santa Cruz.  She received her Ph.D. in Sociology at UCLA, her Masters degree in Education at UC Berkeley, and her B.A. in Sociology at Harvard University.  Her research focuses on youth transitions to adulthood, civic engagement, social inequality, and immigrant integration. Dr. Terriquez is the principal investigator of the California Young Adult Study, Youth Leadership and Health Study, and the Young Voter Engagement Study. Informed by over two decades of connections to social justice movements in California, much of her research has implications for policies affecting low-income communities of color in the United States. Her research has been published in the American Sociological ReviewSocial Science & MedicineSocial ProblemsEducation Policy, and other journals.   Additionally, Dr. Terriquez has co-authored with colleagues and students over 40 widely disseminated research reports on labor, community, and youth organizing.

Issue Presenters

Jacqueline Gutierrez, Youth Program Coordinator, PODER

Jacqueline was born and raised in San Francisco with roots in Mexico City. She studied Raza Studies and Sociology at City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University. Before joining PODER as Youth Program Coordinator, Jacqueline was (and still is!) an active member of PODER’s Urban Campesinxs where she explores the ways in which “earth care, people care, fair share” can manifest in different ways to cultivate creative, healing and regenerative learning experiences. Jacqueline is passionate about bridging the intersections between culture, art, relationship to land, and education to empower community — locally and globally.

Emily Lee, Director, San Francisco Rising

Emily Lee (she/her) is the Director at San Francisco Rising. Emily leads the political strategy and organizational development of the alliance and our staff. Before coming on as Director, Emily served as Co-Chair and Political Director for the alliance, leading city-wide electoral campaigns with key partners. Emily is a recognized leader in electoral organizing with particular expertise in multiracial alliance-building, community-labor partnerships, volunteer engagement, multilingual field operations, and ethnic media. Emily previously spent ten years doing youth organizing and ultimately serving as the Political Director at the Chinese Progressive Association, a founding member of SF Rising. In 2017, Emily helped start Bay Resistance, a powerful new regional organization leading the fight against right-wing attacks on immigrants and communities of color. Outside of work, Emily enjoys hiking, being an auntie, and reading radical science fiction.

Stanley Pun, Co-Director, AYPAL

Stanley has dedicated himself to working with AYPAL since his time as a high school intern. Since then he has worked as a college intern, Site Organizer, Program Manager, and is now AYPAL’s Co-Director alongside Rhummanee Hang.  AYPAL has shaped and informed the work he has done with other organizations with a strong focus on building community and empowering young people in Oakland and the greater Bay Area. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Asian American Studies and Ethnic Studies. His politics have been shaped through his lived experience growing up in Oakland and witnessing inequity, violence, and how oppression has shaped communities of color and their relations with each other.  He strives to create a better Oakland through cultivating youth empowerment to bridge cultural, ethnic, and generational gaps. He hopes that he can inspire youth through this work and most of all, prepare them for their future endeavors so they can thrive wherever they go.

Yadira Sanchez, Bay Area Campaign Strategist, CA Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance

Yadira Sanchez is an undocumented and abolitionist Bay Area Campaign Strategist with the CA Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance. She has been organizing against the criminalization of undocumented people since 2015 when Immigration and Customs Enforcement kidnapped her grandfather. Since then, her commitment is to the vision of liberation and justice. Yadira works at the intersection of criminalization and immigration to address the increased rates of incarceration and detention of immigrants. Yadira's work is to stop deportations, advocate to end the collaboration between local law enforcement and ICE and invest in youth leadership development. In the past, Yadira has worked in advocacy for equitable access to public education for undocumented immigrant students. Her hope is to live in a world where communities can thrive not just survive.

Yadira immigrated with her family from Mexico D.F. in search for better opportunities. She grew up in Pico Rivera, CA in a predominantly Latinx immigrant community. Yadira graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Latinx Studies. Most recently Yadira was honored with an award from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for her tireless work in the immigrant community.

Neva Walker, Executive Director of Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth

Neva is a long-time youth worker, community organizer and political leader from Minneapolis who recently relocated to the Bay Area. She was born into an activist family; her mother founded and ran community programs at the Sabathani Community Center, located right across the street from the family’s home. Neva herself now has decades of experience working with low income youth and families of color around economic and racial justice issues. She has organized intensively around community demands for affordable housing and opportunities for youth. At age 28, Neva was the first African American woman elected to the Minnesota Legislature in the state’s history. She ran a precedent-setting grassroots election campaign that involved young people of color at every level of leadership. She served 8 years as a legislator before stepping down to return to her organizing roots.

Target Audience

This event is open to NCG members and non-member funders only.