San Francisco Mayor’s Office: The Mayor of London Breed celebrates opening of drop-in resource center for youth
20 October 2021
HYPE Center is part of a $ 9.3 million initiative to better serve San Francisco youth affected by commercial sexual exploitation and homelessness
San Francisco, California – Mayor London N. Breed, the Department for the Status of Women and the non-profit organization Freedom Forward today celebrated the opening of the HYPE (Helping Young People Elevate) center, a reception center designed and developed by local youth who provide essential services and resources for 14-25 year olds in the Bay Area.
The new HYPE center will be open to all young people in need, with a particular focus on reaching young people who have been victims of commercial exploitation, have been affected by systematic oppression or have experienced homelessness. Part of San Francisco Safety, Opportunities, and Lifelong Relationships (SF SOL), the Center brings together multiple services, resources and activities, all identified specifically by a group of local youth, under one roof and through one platform. to make it easier and faster for young people to get the help they need.
“The HYPE Center is part of our efforts not only to create better outcomes for our young people, but also to amplify their voices and experiences,” said Mayor Breed. “These young people have had to endure pain and trauma that no one should ever experience, and they know better than anyone the services and resources that have made a difference in their own lives and can create a better future for others.” young people, especially those who are victims of human trafficking or who have experienced homelessness. I am proud of all the young people and advocates who have worked so hard to make the opening of this center a reality.
The nonprofit organizations Freedom Forward and On the Move have teamed up to hire 11 Youth Founders aged 16 to 25 to develop the mission of the HYPE Center, facilitate its design and identify the specific needs of young people. The Center was launched virtually in January 2021 and has served over 200 youth since its launch, and is now open for in-person services.
Services include intensive on-site legal and case management support, mental health services, education services, coding classes, self-defense workshops and family support. In addition, the Center collects data to analyze how young people use services and resources between providers, soliciting feedback to understand the needs and outcomes of young people in a holistic way.
“San Francisco is fortunate to have an abundance of resources, but that doesn’t mean those resources are available to those who need them most. What if young people were central to the design of systems? What if young people were not only at the table when decisions were made, but were the main decision makers? The goal of the HYPE Center is to change the way decisions are made and how services are accessed, and to support young people in their own leadership and empowerment, ”said Anastasia Mallillin, director of the HYPE Center at Freedom Forward.
The current list of organizations identified by young people that provide services includes:
Additional services will join the space over time according to the recommendations of the young people.
In 2019, the California Department of Social Services awarded the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women (DOSW) and the SF SOL Collaborative a $ 9.3 million grant over three years, enabling the city to develop models of care to promote better outcomes for young people. affected by commercial sexual exploitation or other circumstances.
“The HYPE Center is the culmination of true collaboration and innovation between leading San Francisco youth advocates and we couldn’t be more excited about what’s to come,” said Kimberly Ellis, Director of the Department of the Status of Women. “Young people need a safe place and environment where they can start making life-changing decisions and living dreams, dreams that they have often been told they cannot and that they cannot achieve. ‘they didn’t deserve them. “
The HYPE Center is a centerpiece of the SF SOL (Lifelong Safety, Opportunities and Relationships) initiative, which brings together organizations to better serve young victims of commercial sexual exploitation. SF SOL strives to ensure that all young people, especially those who are generally the most excluded and marginalized, have the opportunity to thrive.
“Every day young people are exploited, right here in our city of San Francisco,” said Alia Whitney-Johnson, co-founder and executive director of Freedom Forward. “A lot of people think that the sex trafficking of young people is something that happens far away, but it also happens in our city. Most of these young people have had contact points with our foster care system. Our systems and services have failed them. HYPE offers something different Rather than pathologizing young people because of the things they have gone through, we focus on their dreams and self-determination. HYPE Center is accessible to all young people so that survivors do not have to identify themselves with labels as they walk through the door. “
“Young people who have overcome obstacles and trauma can help other young people choose what they want and realize their potential. It means having a space by young people, for young people, like HYPE. As young people we see things that are typically missed by managers, providers and the system as a whole. HYPE is the way we make a difference, ”said Janel Gonzalez, founder of HYPE Center Youth.
For more information on the HYPE Center, to connect young people or to get involved, please visit HYPECenterSF.com or write to [email protected]
This press release was produced by the mayor’s office of San Francisco. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.