At our core, we believe in the power of change from within. Marginalized populations have been locked out of society for generations due to a lack of equity. Our focus is on the populations that have been most effected by unjust policies, like the War on Drugs, implicit and explicit bias, redlining and other social inequities that have resulted in high incarceration rates and unequal access to wealth, power, and resources amongst black and brown community members.
This has resulted in a well-founded mistrust within communities of color.
Success Centers’ theory of change recognizes that change must include the very communities that have been most affected by systemic inequities, but not place the onus of responsibility solely on these communities. Our non-traditional approach challenges the status quo and demands change from within the system – change we also work to create. Through our data-driven methods, marginalized communities become advocates to create equity and economic justice and the system is held accountable to meet the needs of the community.
Again, our mission and goal is to empower through education, employment and the arts. We mindfully focus on career pathways that result in lucrative job opportunities that also demonstrate high demand. Success Centers is also adept at removing barriers that prevent our clients from equally accessing the myriad opportunities that exist in the Bay Area. We create an alternative pathway to success and access to economic justice. This begins with building resiliency, creativity, belief in self, and self-advocacy – all outcomes we aim for that are integral to the greater goal of increased equity and safe, thriving communities.
Success Centers was founded by Superior Court Judges 35 years ago to provide education and employment opportunities to youth in San Francisco’s juvenile detention facilities. Since then, Success Centers has grown to provide participants services to disconnected youth and marginalized community members in San Francisco, San Mateo, Sonoma and Alameda Counties. To achieve our mission, Success Centers offers four core programs:
- A Dream and A Plan for Tomorrow (ADAPT): Our education program helps youth attain their GED, enroll in college, and/or transition from incarceration to community;
- New Directions Employment Program: Our youth employment program where young people participate in career assessments, job readiness training, job placement in subsidized and unsubsidized employment opportunities, internships, and/or a coding boot camp, connecting them to careers;
- Urban Connections: Our community workforce development program offers community members career assessments and coaching, job placement, access to on-the-job training, and job training programs in the construction, healthcare, hospitality, and cannabis industries; and
- Each One Reach One (EORO): Our arts program connects youth with professional artists to create original works, which are showcased before a live audience.
In the past 5 years, Success Centers has grown nearly 600 percent. We have achieved this incredible growth because of our commitment to our mission, our development of cutting-edge programming and by merging and acquiring other like-minded community-based organizations, including Each One Reach One and Youth for Service. Ultimately, this growth has allowed us to expand our breadth and depth of services, reaching more marginalized communities with more impactful programming.
Success Centers is a recognized and respected leader throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for our education, employment and art programs, which produce outstanding results for hundreds of disconnected youth and other marginalized community members each year.
Of the 1300 disconnected youth and marginalized community members we serve annually, over 95 percent are low-income and 87 percent are people of color, with the majority being African American and Latinx/Hispanic (46 percent and 20 percent respectively). Many of the YOUTH we serve live in single-parent or cohabitated houses, endure undiagnosed mental health and learning disabilities, and cope with severe life trauma. Roughly one in three are foster youth.
Success Centers’ CEO, Liz Jackson-Simpson, was recently appointed by the Board of Supervisors to the San Francisco Workforce Community Advisory Committee. In addition, she is the recipient of the 2016 San Francisco Human Rights Commission ‘Hero of the Year’ award for her contributions to improving the lives of so many in the community. Key events in the Success Centers History include:
- 1983 The SCSF was established by Superior Court Judges and Youth for Services
- 1984 Launched job training in the trades at Log Cabin Ranch (Carpentry, Automotive Services, Culinary Arts, and Building and Trades)
- 1988 Launched community-based programming & job placement services
- 1998 Robin Sohnen founded Each One Reach One
- 1998 First GED Class Graduation
- 1999 EORO received the New American Community Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency
- 2008 EORO co-authored and helped pass AB 622 in 2008, lowering the GED testing age to 17 for youth in juvenile detention facilities statewide.
- 2009 SCSF Partners with EORO for OEWD grant
- 2010 Liz Jackson-Simpson is hired as Success Centers first Executive Director
- 2010 The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities recognized EORO as one of fifty national finalists for the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards in 2010. EORO received this prestigious honor four more times in 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017
- 2011 EORO and the Success Center received the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development’s Outstanding Workforce Partnership Award for their collaborative programming
- 2013 Merger with Youth for Service and name change from the Youth Guidance Center Improvement Committee to Success Center San Francisco
- 2014 Success Center SF assumes management of the Western Addition Career Center
- 2017 EORO partnered with Assembly Kevin Mullin to co-author and pass AB 1167, which eliminated all time restrictions for GED test preparation while youth are incarcerated.
- 2018 Success Center SF and Each One Reach One merge