A Letter from our Executive Director

What Gives Me Hope


As the old sayings go, “the only constant in life is change,” and “hope springs eternal.” This last year has really driven home the validity of both for me.

For our nation, change came in divergent ways. Throughout the year, the President used his position to re-normalize hatred, racism, and bigotry among people who never went away, but were starting to be pushed back. He enacted policies that are inane, inhumane, and have the potential to revert years of growth and progress. But in November the country took a stand: voters across the country elected the most racially diverse and most female group of representatives to US Congress in its 200-year history. The balance of power in Washington is on course to put this President and his administration in check. This gives me hope.  

For San Francisco, change came at the top level of local government. 2017 ended with the tragic passing of Mayor Ed Lee, and saw Mayor Mark Farrell proficiently sustain his legacy through the spring and summer. We will end 2018 with Mayor London Breed, the first African American female mayor in the city’s history, who earned her way to City Hall after growing up in public housing, attending public schools, and participating in publically funded programs. The start of Mayor Breed’s tenure comes at a challenging time in our city: income inequality is growing, gentrification is occurring, and poor communities of color are disproportionately bearing the burden of the city’s transitions. Despite a long way to go, it is reassuring that we have a leader who acutely understands the plight of San Francisco residents who are in-need and at-risk, and in her short tenure has already created opportunities for the homeless, the working poor, and the marginalized residents of our city. This gives me hope.   

For DCYF, change came in the form of new beginnings, the launch of our 2018-2023 grant cycle. As of August of this year, all of our new grantees are actively providing programs and services in San Francisco, playing a significant role in the social, cultural, and economic vitality of the communities where they serve and operate.

We recognize that the viability of these organizations is critical for both DCYF’s goals and the overall sustainability of the communities they serve, so DCYF instituted another change: we created DCYF University, a suite of free organizational and professional development opportunities for our grantees. We are doing more than ever to ensure that everyone, from to line staff to directors, receives the professional development they need to thrive in their careers, which will in turn benefit the children, youth, and families in their programs. This gives me hope.   

As I considered the changes that are and have been taking place nationally, locally, and for DCYF and our grantees, I had to ask myself: for DCYF, what remains steadfast in the face of change? The answer is quite literally written on our conference room wall: DCYF’s Four Pillars – Strategic Funding, Quality Services, Collaborative Partnerships, and Community Engagement. We are strategic funders at our core, providing financial support for programs and seeking to address inequalities in access and opportunity in the city. We are field builders, ensuring the development and support of high quality programs that promote positive outcomes for the city’s children, youth, and families. We are conveners, ensuring that the nonprofit community, city government, educational institutions, and other stakeholders efficiently use resources and coordinate their services. We are amplifiers of the voices of children, youth, their families and the people who serve them.      

My hope, my goal, and the overall objective of DCYF’s work is for our children, youth, and their families to lead lives full of fulfilment and happiness. With that in mind, I pose a question to myself and my team from time to time, and now I pose it to you: what are you doing to make San Francisco a great place to grow up?

In Community,

Maria Su, Psy.D