Statement from Stephen Song, Executive Director

The most recent public murder of an unarmed black man by a white police officer has led to a nation’s eruption of anger, fear, desperation, immense pain, and an all too familiar experience of black and brown lives not mattering. The national protests, most of which have been powerfully peaceful and community based, have brought legitimate, honest, and non-negotiable demands of inalienable human rights to the forefront. Black folks don’t just ‘deserve’ to have their rights and lives matter, their lives MUST matter. 

And yet situations like this remind our whole nation that too many times they haven’t mattered. Haven’t mattered enough to be protected on a jog, or at a store, or in the safety of their own home, or even walking home with a pack of candy. 

The anger is real, the trauma has compounded, and the stakes are life and death. This is a moment to stand up for what is right, to galvanize around the work of anti-racism, and to disrupt systemic oppression. 

We stand with George Floyd. We stand in community with our students and families. We stand for change that values the lives of our black and brown sisters and brothers.

Black Lives Matter.

Match Spotlight: Hyun and Mireya

It doesn’t take long to see the strong bond that has formed between Hyun and Mireya who have been matched for 3 years as part of Community for Youth’s (CfY) mentoring program.  They demonstrate the deep connections and authentic relationships impacting both the students and adult mentors who participate in our unique mentoring model. 

Mireya, now a senior at Cleveland High School, heard about CfY from a friend who didn’t want to participate on her own.  Now, three years later, the relationships and experiences through CfY have had a profound impact on her life, “I have learned to get out of my comfort zone and talk to more people.  If I hadn’t become a part of CfY, I would probably still be in my shell.”

Now in her 6th year of mentoring, Hyun found CfY in her search for an opportunity to be more involved in her community.  The experience not only mentoring amazing young people, but also connecting with other incredible adult mentors has kept her involved with CfY over the years, “I have made so many strong friendships.  Being a mentor is a great opportunity to meet people outside of your normal social group and to branch out and expand your network.”

Both Hyun and Mireya have had a transformative impact on CfY through their commitment and involvement.  Mireya joined Leadercorps which has further helped her gain confidence, grow her natural leadership skills, and support other students offering them the same encouragement and helping hand that she received. 


One of the biggest takeaways for Hyun from her mentoring experience is seeing how students like Mireya, are willing to put themselves out there and take risks, “I watch how the students grow and as mentors we say to ourselves, the students are doing this, why aren’t we.  It’s really a reciprocal relationship and learning experience.”

Hyun proudly shared how Mireya landed her first job and an internship working with Seattle Public Utilities.  In fact, Mireya cultivated a strong connection with her supervisor which led to conversations about CfY and securing a sponsorship from Seattle Public Utilities to support the 2020 Aspire Gala!

Speaking of the Gala, both Mireya and Hyun couldn’t say more about this fun and celebratory night surrounded by friends and community.  Mireya is excited to emcee the evening for a second time with other CfY students. Now that she has one Gala under her belt, she is excited to together with Jalen’e, add more of their voice and personal flair to the program.

Hyun loves the Gala giving her a chance to “play dress-up”, a rare opportunity in Seattle. As a Gala Committee member, she has an insider view into the planning and knows that it will be another stellar event. Hyun and Mireya along with the entire CfY community invite you to join them for this evening of giving and community where together, “We get to celebrate CfY, highlight the amazing students in the program, and get people excited for this really great cause!”

Learn more about the 2020 Aspire Gala, purchase tickets, and help spread the word

CfY’s New Executive Director

Dear Friends of CfY,

We are excited to share the news that Community for Youth has promoted Stephen Song, MSW to Executive Director from his current role as Director of Programs.

Stephen joined CfY in 2017 and has helped increase rigor in measuring program efficacy, as demonstrated by achieving 100% of the National Mentoring Partnership’s Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring establishing CfY as an Expert Partner. In addition, Stephen has partnered with Seattle Public Schools, School’s out Washington, and other agencies to bolster the great work of CfY and maximize our program’s impact on our youth and mentors as evidenced by our 100% participant satisfaction for the 2018-19 Program year. 

Stephen’s leadership positions CfY well to deepen and strengthen our unique and robust mentorship model. Please join us in congratulating Stephen and celebrating the great work of CfY.

With gratitude,

CfY Board of Directors

Changes at CfY

Dear Friends of CfY,I write to you with a mixture of excitement and sadness as I transition from Community for Youth to a new opportunity serving as the Executive Director of Neighborhood House this fall. I’ve so enjoyed meeting many of you, especially CfY’s students; you have taught me so much and helped CfY to elevate student voice, choice, and power.

I’m proud of what we accomplished over the past two years. We’ve added student leadership, service learning, and now meet  100% of the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring. We adopted Critical Mentoring, which is mentoring through a race equity lens. This approach puts youth at the center of the mentoring relationship and all that we do. Thanks to the advocacy of our youth and partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters, we were successful in securing funding for high school mentoring from the state legislature. We initiated a new partnership with Seattle Goodwill and now hold all workshops at their state of the art facility in Central Seattle. We became a host agency for the University of Washington Masters in Social Work interns, and undergraduate Education Community and Organizations (ECO) interns. We strengthened partnerships with Mentor Washington, Schools Out Washington, and Seattle Public Schools. Partnerships with Employee Resource Groups at Nordstrom, Microsoft, Amazon, and more have helped us diversify our mentors to 60% people of color.

We are grateful for the feedback and participation of many of you as we re-examined and updated our mission, vision, values, and theory of change. This work helped us elevate student leadership and incorporate more equity and social justice in our work. I was transformed by what I learned at CfY, and from what I learned from all of you. I am grateful to the CfY board for their leadership and for giving me the opportunity to be a part of CfY community.

The board is working diligently on a plan with the remaining team, Stephen, Hayley, and Elizabeth, to provide consistency and continuity for the program. Your support as mentors, donors, and friends of CfY is more critical now than ever before. We’re committed to keeping you updated as these plans solidify. Thank you for your support.

Best wishes,


Current Match Spotlight: Tiffany and Katherine

Tiffany and Katherine have been matched for the past 5 months. They bonded at Launch by talking, joking, playing games, and discussing life.

They have a lot in common such as food (especially ice cream), movies, TV shows, some music. They both enjoy the outdoors, especially the water. They also both enjoy art.

When asked what they admire about each other, Katherine answered that she admires that Tiffany is a working woman of color who is very independent. Tiffany admires that Katherine is really involved in school, like ASB, and managing projects like dances and other social events.

Throughout their 5 months together, they have learned a lot from and about one another. Katherine said that she learned that Tiffany has a dog and her dog is really well behaved, even though he can’t walk straight. She also learned that it’s a good thing to expand her horizons. Tiffany learned that Katherine is a strong leader and is very ambitious. She also learned that she is allergic to citrus and likes avocados.

Throughout their time together Katherine hopes to learn more about each other, life, and in general. And of course, to eat more good food throughout the Seattle area. Tiffany also hopes they can continue to explore more places in Seattle and learn more about each other.

Meet Our Community – Aisling Underwood

Aisling at LAUNCH

I got involved with CfY because I had been wanting to get involved in volunteer work and thought CfY sounded like a great way to give back and connect with a larger community. Being in a community with people of all ages and backgrounds has been a new and enriching experience for me. CfY has reminded me of how much we can learn from others when we step outside our insular communities and our comfort zones. Deciding to show up every week, even when you are tired or have other priorities you are juggling always proves to be worth it.

My favorite experience with CfY is the powerful acknowledgments that are given at the close of every year. It’s amazing to see the students receive sincere praise for their character and growth throughout the year. The change you see in the students from when they were first acknowledged at camp to their final acknowledgment of the year is remarkable. It’s very special to witness how much their confidence has grown and how supported they feel by their CfY community.

My mentee and I have similar senses of humor and we like to laugh. In terms of differences, I like to eat anything and everything and she is a pizza girl through and through. I’m hoping by the end of the year we will be game to try some different cuisines. My mentee is a very strong and thoughtful person. At 14 she faces adversity and life’s difficulties with a grace and maturity that I strive for at 30.

If I could describe my CfY experience in one word it would be enriching.

Meet the Family Group – CfY Beans Family

CfY Beans Family – Peter, Astrid, Deji, Stephanie, Mercedez, Tim, Linda, Isia, Tyler, Tianna, Demetreyonna, and Savion. Not pictured: Michael and Ben 

Peter shared,

Hanging out with the family group is my favorite part of CfY. It’s a fun way to hang out with Tyler, my mentee, but I really like getting to know the other mentors and mentees too. I think the family groups are what sets CfY apart. Having a group of mentors that work together as a team is really valuable and makes the experience better for everyone. Time spent with the family can also be the perfect opportunity for people to open up outside of the 1-on-1 and large group settings.

Our family group spent a night at family fun center (where the mentor team beat the mentee team in laser tag!) We’ve also had a birthday party/game night for Tyler’s birthday and had a craft night creating vision boards. Our family seems to really like playing games. Even the craft night became a bit of a game: picking out pictures for each other and debating who had the best celebrity on their vision board.

I really look forward to family nights, because I know the whole group will have fun. I think our family group is special because we are so diverse. The fact that we all come from different backgrounds is what makes it interesting.” 

Current Match Spotlight: Peter and Tyler

Peter and Tyler

I was pumped I got matched with Tyler at Match Night. We’ve been matched for 6 months. We first bonded at Launch. We played a lot of games in the cabin together (our cabin was a lot of fun). Tyler taught me a card game similar to Uno, and I taught Tyler poker and Codenames. Tyler also beat me in basketball.

We have similar personalities, we’re both active and like sports, and most of all we share a similar sense of humor. We have different backgrounds and very different heights. Tyler insists we have different tastes in music, but I disagree.

Tyler has shown me some new music, some fresh, thoughtful perspectives, and even gave me some career advice. I’ve helped Tyler with interviewing tips at What’s Next, showed him how to solve a tricky geometry problem, and showed good sportsmanship when I beat Tyler in go-karts AND laser tag.

Meet Our Community with Jordan

Jordan Lee, CfY Mentor

I got involved with CfY because I had a college friend who had been a mentor for five years or so and a co-worker had been a mentor for two. Both recounted very positive experiences and at some point, I ran out of excuses to not give it a try. I volunteered at Garfield when I was at UW and have always been interested in serving youth. This organization provided a structured way to do that with other local professionals like me.

One of my favorite memories so far is with my current mentee. We went to Gameworks and shot a lotttt of baskets. I started off alright, but he crushed me. It was nice to just relax and hang out. Also, I am still in touch with my mentee last year who is now at WSU. It’s been great to meet up when he’s back home from college and check in with him as he goes through a big growth year as a freshman.

My mentee and I are alike in that he is interested in engineering and I am a mechanical engineer at an Architecture/Engineering design firm. I was able to show him around my workplace at some of the things we do in a professional setting. He might be more into the robotic side of engineering, but it was good to share things like our 3D printer and laser cutter to him. Our differences are plenty – he’s got cooler shoes and headphones than me for one. The rap he listens to is different than most of the rap I listen to. I was born to Chinese Immigrants and he’s a Somali immigrant. He is working more hours as a HS senior at two jobs than I did when I was at one job at his age. We’ve got lots of differences that have nuggets of commonality between us.

From my CfY experience, I’ve learned communication is huge in any relationship. I find myself also applying communication tools and success in my relationship with my student to apply to my personal and professional life and vice versa. If I could describe my CfY experience with one word it would be grounded.

Meet the Family Group – Sarah Choy

Sarah’s Family Group (Not pictured: Emil and Carl) 

The Family Group component of CfY is one of the main times during our years together where we get to know everyone’s character, watch dynamics of the group play out, where we truly become a family. A lot of the times you get placed into a group of complete strangers. The family group component is important because we are forced out of our comfort zones, able to talk/hang out/learn about our differences and similarities with open minds….we can be ourselves (students and mentors) by having fun, without judgment. Family Group is a safe and supportive environment. Our family group is special because someone’s always there to lend a helping hand, there’s always a smart joke being cracked, I’ve made 11 new friends, and it’s always a good time!