News June 7, 2021

Press Release - San Francisco Launches Young Planners Internship Program

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The San Francisco Young Planners Fellowship Program will provide 16 public high school students with a 9-week summer experience to learn about the power and impact of city planning.

San Francisco, CA — San Francisco Planning today announced the creation of the San Francisco Young Planners Program, a paid educational internship program to provide employment and mentorship opportunities to 16 local public high school students and 2 local young fellows to explore the history and current work of city planning. The youth empowerment and professional development program is offered in partnership with Mayor Breed’s Opportunities for All program, the San Francisco Planning Department, and YouthWorks, with support from the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, Planning Commission, JCYC, and Teachers 4 Social Justice.

The Young Planners Program will start on June 7, 2021 and will join the recently created Young Defenders Program as part of Opportunities for All and YouthWorks, a City program placing youth on career paths. Mayor Breed created Opportunities for All in 2018 to connect young people of all backgrounds to paid employment, job training, and mentorship opportunities. 

“Involving young people in our planning processes is a great way to ensure the future of San Francisco reflects the diversity and the needs of our entire community—especially the next generation of people who will be living in and leading our city,” said Mayor London Breed. “Not only does the Young Planners internship program provide an amazing professional experience for San Francisco students to grow and gain expertise in the field of city planning, but having these young people in our Planning Department for the summer is a tremendous asset for our city.”

During the 9-week summer program, youth fellows and interns will learn the history, technical skills, and practical applications of the planning profession through an inquiry-based approach. Two Opportunities for All Fellows will gain additional leadership experience by guiding the interns throughout the program. The students will explore different aspects of urban planning, including open space, housing, and transportation, and how this relates to different experiences of the sidewalk and streets, parks, and neighborhoods to the Bay Area region and global scales. 

The students will be paired with Planning Department staff to work on a meaningful project under their mentorship and will contribute towards a final project that demonstrates their skills and competency as a young planner. Youth will also receive additional training during the summer as a part of a holistic, hands-on educational experience, consisting of seminars, walking, and biking tours, and interactive fieldwork.

The Young Planners Program seeks to build on the City’s quality investments in San Francisco’s youth. The City is advancing several programs to ensure youth, and particularly youth of color, have the opportunity to achieve a more successful future for themselves, their families, and their community. This includes the City’s Opportunities for All Program, which currently has more than 3,000 applications, and hundreds of activities planned for this summer.

Opportunities for All and YouthWorks, along with JCYC, conducted recruitment for the Young Planners Program. Enrollment in Young Planners focused on youth between the ages of 16 and 18 who are: 1) from under-represented demographics in the planning profession, specifically Black, Latinx, and American Indian populations, as well as women and people of color; 2) youth from neighborhoods that have historically been negatively impacted by historical urban planning and redevelopment policies, such as the Fillmore/Western Addition, Chinatown, Mission, and the Bayview-Hunter Point; and 3) youth from the San Francisco Unified School District and youth who reside in public housing, single-room occupancy hotels (SROs), and affordable housing projects.

The Young Planners program is a direct response from the Planning Commission’s Racial and Social Equity resolution and its commitment to look critically at how it serves and works closely with the communities most impacted by planning policies, particularly in Black and other communities of color. 

“We want to inspire youth, especially those from historically underrepresented groups to contribute their expertise to the city planning profession,” said Planning Commissioner Deland Chan. “By developing curriculum that speaks directly to the lived experiences of young people of color and acknowledges how urban planning shapes their neighborhoods and the city, our hope is that the Young Planners program will nurture a pipeline of human-centered and equity-focused practitioners."

The San Francisco Planning Department, under the direction of the Planning Commission, is responsible for shaping the future of San Francisco through the implementation of the General Plan and neighborhood plans, and for fostering exemplary design, preserving unique heritage, and encouraging a broad housing and diverse job base.  

“Inspiring and empowering youth participation is a key component of the Department’s Racial and Social Equity Action Plan,” said Rich Hillis, Director of Planning. “We are excited to expand our annual youth internship program by adding an educational element that emphasizes the importance of a diverse planning field. Through these investments, our hope is to create meaningful opportunities for a more equitable future for the next generation.” 

“This program provides opportunities for youth to gain important skills that help them prepare for work, but it also educates youth on the planning process and promotes equity in the city process,” said Sheryl Davis, Executive Director, Human Rights Commission. “Partnerships with government agencies and private sector partners are critical for the success of Opportunities for All, we are grateful for partners like the Planning Department who see the value of young people working and learning in their offices.” 

The paid internship program is funded by the City of San Francisco. As many families are struggling financially due to COVID-19, it is more important than ever that students have access to paid internship opportunities.

“As we did with our SF Young Defenders, and now with the SF Young Planners Program we are working in coalition with the city and county, community based organizations, educators and the human rights commission,” said Jeremiah Jeffries, public school teacher and coordinator for Teachers 4 Social Justice. “We are making the road by walking it together and in particular with the SF Young Planners Program we are learning how to design those roads and walking toward a future we all believe in.”

"I feel that being a young planner will help me educate and give back to my peers and the youth around me,” said Amiriana, a recent graduate of Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School. “I want to help benefit the economy and society and help create better environments. I want to help other young people like me create and build a path that not only helps them reflect on who they are as a person but also their future.”

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