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Our Mission:

Community for Youth inspires and supports students to be their best selves through mentoring, learning experiences, and a powerful community.

Our Story:

In 1984, our founder, Sue Van Haren made the move to Seattle, Washington, where she found that a spike in youth violence was impacting the lives and futures of students in the community. 

Sue wanted to do something, and to get started, she attended a two-day workshop organized by the Breakthrough Foundation. The Breakthrough Foundation worked around the world teaching civilians how to organize to solve problems in their communities, and in Seattle, the workshop gave rise to multiple nonprofit organizations still operating today – including Community for Youth (CfY).

Incorporated in 1986, CfY spent the first years of its organizational life focusing on youth in the Juvenile Justice system. Sue went to work recruiting mentors and instilling values that are still at the core of our organization today. Sue prompted her mentors and volunteers to look inward, think about their own challenges, and ask themselves what worked and what didn’t work for them during their upbringing, so that they could approach mentorship with a unique and personal perspective. 

In the early 90s, CfY shifted its focus toward preventative measures by pairing mentors with students at-risk of dropping out of high school. CfY placed an emphasis on one-on-one relationships between mentors and students, and in 2012, expanded to connect mentoring pairs with a larger community of students and mentors. Today, CfY works with 40-70 student-mentor pairs annually, connecting South Seattle high school students with compatible adults to help students realize and reach their full potential. 


Community for Youth Values

Community Centered – We belong to a larger community. We work together to support, influence and improve our community.

Student Leadership – Students are capable, powerful, resilient, knowledgeable, and have much to teach adults. Students have power, voice, and choice in all aspects of the program. Adults are opportunity brokers and guides to student leaders.

Diversity/Equity/Inclusion – Youth and adults are partners and collaborators in working to disrupt inequity and oppression for personal and social change.

Integrity – We speak and act with integrity to build and maintain trust. We are committed to bringing our best selves to this work because it matters.

Not School, Not Work – Our program is active, fun and engaging on topics relevant to school, work, and life.

Transformation – We work together to learn from data, best practices and each other to transform ourselves, CfY, and our community.