Respect, integrity, courage, and humility. These are values and themes that Urban Trailblazers (UTB) take on as they explore social and environmental justice issues through media and art courses.

Like a second home

I love UTB because it’s not like any regular program or job. When I come to UTB I feel like I’m coming to a second home. I know when I come to UTB I won’t be judged and I will always feel welcomed. Last summer UTB taught me how to step up as a leader especially since it was my second year. I got to let the newcomers know that they can feel comfortable in the CFC.

–Chastity DeCuire, 2nd year UTB intern

UTB is a youth leadership program especially designed for middle school age youth. For 7 weeks each summer, a group of 66 culturally and economically diverse students from San Francisco public schools discovers leadership through art, media, and science workshops.

In and out of the Golden Gate National Parks, UTB participants learn about service through community projects and volunteering, explore national parks like Lassen and Yosemite. For many, the program is also first internship for the participants in which they earn a $250 education award upon successful completion. 

After the summer, youth have the opportunity to continue in the school year for the UTB Saturday program where they delve deeper into leadership roles and engage in youth-led service projects.

Expanding into San Francisco after-school sites, UTB will begin serving up to 24 students at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Alternative Middle School in 2017. The program will meet three times per week, including one day of the weekend. Instructors are developing hands-on curriculum focused on healthy parks and healthy people. In tandem with their students, they will explore and share their own personal identities, discuss stereotypes, and investigate definitions of a “healthy community” through assessment of their own neighborhoods’ health and existing resources. These young people will have the opportunity to apply to the UTB summer program and deepen their connections to national parks.

FROM INTERN TO STAFF

Laura Alvarez first learned about UTB as a high school intern with I-YEL, and was encouraged to apply for the UTB summer internship by her mentor. Although she started off a little nervous, once she met her team she was excited to experience everything UTB had to offer. Now as a UTB instructor, she is the one mentoring new interns.

That summer was one of the best summers that I ever had where I had the opportunity to lead activities, do lesson plans on what I thought was important. And my highlight of the summer: I got to sleep on Alcatraz for my birthday! Now fast forward four years later, I had the chance of becoming a summer instructor where I had my own group of students and interns. Coming back as a group leader I was able to inspire and mentor my group in being young leaders of our community and show them what UTB culture is all about. Also, being able to work with a group of students with different backgrounds and having them work as a group was an amazing experience.

–Laura Alvarez, Middle School Instructor

2016 Statistics

66 Participants completed a seven-week summer program

12 High school students employed as summer interns 

12 Middle schools represented (Francisco, Hoover, Roosevelt, Presidio, A.P. Giannini, Marina, Aptos, Lawton Alternative, Alice Fong Yu, Rooftop, MLK)

250 Contact hours per participant during the seven-week summer program

1,500 Contact hours during Saturday school-year programming

Key Partners

Native Plant Nurseries

San Francisco Food Bank

San Francisco Unified School District


Philanthropic Partners

The Kimball Foundation
George F. Jewett Foundation



Contact Information

Sam Tran
Youth Leadership Coordinator
stran@parksconservancy.org
(415) 561-7769