Y-PLAN Peninsula Students Lift Up Affordable Housing Proposals, Their Client Facebook is Listening

Posted on by Tira Okamoto

Redwood City, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto high school students involved in Y-PLAN, an action research initiative based at the UCB Center for Cities+Schools, are making media headlines as their Project Client Facebook unveils a $1 million dollar accessory dwelling unit project in response to the students’ affordable housing proposals. In print, on air, and on TV screens, Y-PLAN student scholars are sharing their stories as young planners making change in their communities.

The Peninsula is facing a rapid increase in housing costs. With rising rents and home prices, long-term residents, who are often people of color, are at risk of being displaced due to higher rents and cost of living. During the last two years, Facebook partnered with two CED affiliated research centers, the Center for Community Innovation and the Center for Cities + Schools, to leverage Y-PLAN to support local high school students in researching and illuminating the current housing conditions in their region. Students conducted interviews, surveys, site mapping, and best practices research as they elevated the experiences of local residents and offered their own recommendations for change (more information here).

Along the way, young people from East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, North Fair Oaks, and Redwood City, working with the Y-PLAN team at the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula and East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy, presented their work at their school and Clubhouse, in boardrooms at Facebook, at City Council meetings in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park, and on campus at the University of California, Berkeley.

With the recent unveiling of an affordable housing ADU project funded by Facebook, Soup, and EPA Can Do, Y-PLAN Peninsula students have been interviewed in print for the San Jose Mercury News, over the radio at KCBS, and on TV by ABC 7 News, NBC, and Telemundo.

“Students are passionate about improving the places we all call home and want to underscore the urgency of addressing current inequities in affordability, accessibility, connectivity and inclusion in our cities,” said Dr. Deborah McKoy, Executive Director at CC+S. “When our Clients like Facebook take the next step and begin implementing youth-driven designs and policy recommendations, we at CC+S are reaffirmed that Y-PLAN is a successful model for authentic partnership between young people and civic partners to plan more inclusive, vibrant, and joyful cities for young people - and everyone.”

To learn more about the project and Y-PLAN, visit the Y-PLAN website.

To Live in the Community You Serve: School District Employee Housing in California

Posted on by Sean Doocy

Faced with high turnover and a shortage of qualified teachers, California school districts are aggressively adopting new strategies to recruit and retain teachers and staff. A prominent and ambitious strategy is employee housing assistance – particularly direct creation of new rental housing. Employee housing strategies by school districts have emerged as a direct response to the housing affordability crisis in California (for both rental and ownership). The housing affordability crunch is most acute in employment-rich coastal urban areas like Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Across California, school districts, local governments, state governments, private developers, nonprofits, and foundations have taken…

Opportunity Zones Should Help Modernize Public School Facilities

Posted on by Mary Filardo and Jeff Vincent

Mary Filardo, 21st Century School Fund Jeff Vincent, Center for Cities and Schools In 2017, we founded [Re]Build America’s School Infrastructure Coalition (BASIC), a non-partisan coalition to advocate for a ten-year $100 billion investment as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure package. But reducing inequity in our nation’s public school facilities will take a variety of tools. These tools are needed at the local, state, and federal levels. Could the new federal Opportunity Zone Program help modernize public school facilities in low income communities? One of the provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was the creation of “Opportunity Zones” (OZs). Opportunity Zones are structured to provide…

School as Anchors of Diversity

Posted on by Kfir Mordechay

Across the metropolises of the United States, gentrification is making neighborhoods hardly recognizable. In a short time, what was once a minor force of urban change, gentrification is now sweeping through many cities like a tsunami. By some estimates over the last 15 years, nearly 20 percent of neighborhoods in the 50 largest cities have experienced major gentrification. From New York to Los Angeles, there has been a large influx of middle class families. Some have even begun to do what had long been unthinkable in the post-war decades of white flight from central cities to the suburbs; enroll their…

TOWERS OF POWER: Snapshot of a Future I Want To Inhabit

Posted on by Shirl Buss, PhD.

I am an urban designer and educator.  One of the most joyful things I do is facilitate architecture and urban planning studios for elementary school children in public schools through Youth in Arts and UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN. Like many adults today, I am asking myself how—in my professional role—can I positively contribute to the #MeToo movement for and with the children in my life? How might I, when I work with young people, respond proactively to the gender inequities and injustices that we are witnessing every day?  How can I help both boys and girls express their own power, free from the…

School Facilities Belong in the Nation’s Infrastructure Portfolio

Posted on by Mary Filardo and Jeff Vincent

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently issued its 2017 report card rating 16 different categories of infrastructure. ASCE includes public school facilities in their infrastructure rating—grading them a D+. However, state and federal plans to rebuild and modernize America’s infrastructure, often omit schools from our nation’s infrastructure portfolio.     Public school buildings and grounds need to be fully included in state and federal planning and funding for the nation’s infrastructure.    First, just like other major water, transit, or port infrastructure, school facilities projects require long range planning and forecasting to ensure efficient use of land and other…

School facilities and student physical activity

Posted on by Hannah Thompson, PhD

National experts recommend that, for optimal health, youth get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) a day - which is the kind of movement that gets you sweating and breathing harder. However, youth are far from meeting this recommendation. And, unfortunately, significant disparities exist by age, sex, race/ethnicity, and income. The Institute of Medicine has, logically, identified the school setting as an ideal venue for increasing access to physical activity among diverse youth. Image Credit: Hannah Thompson However, many obstacles get in the way of students getting MVPA at school. We know that with limited funding, resources,…

Tardiness and Poor School Facility Conditions are Interconnected

Posted on by Amanda Eppley, CC+S

The California Department of Education’s new California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) provides loads of insight for state and local leaders into what makes for healthy school environments…and what doesn’t. A perpetually overlooked aspect of school health and overall school climate is the condition of a school’s facilities and grounds. Here at the Center for Cities + Schools, we’ve looked at this issue in a number of studies  – and we have found alarming patterns of underinvestment in California’s K-12 facilities , which raise serious questions about whether or not children are attending school facilities that are healthy, safe, in good repair,…

Detroit Students Promote the Campaign for Healthy Schools

Posted on by Shirl Buss

The Center for Cities + Schools in collaboration with Wayne State University’s Volunteers, Administrators and Coaches (VAC) have been implementing Y-PLAN Initiatives over the past nine years.  For the past two years students have been engaged in a multi-year effort to promote healthy eating and active living in the schools, housing developments, and neighborhoods in the urban core of Detroit.   As part of this effort, the children ages 4-14 at Brewster Homes and Parkside Village, created posters as a public awareness campaign to increase healthy behavior and healthier school environments.   Students, like young illustrator Martez Vance (pictured here), worked…


Posted on by Anne Robertson

By BROCK HICKS   The number—and the proportion—of students enrolled in public charter schools (independently run public schools) is increasing nationwide, particularly in urban school districts. The public policy debate in education on the pros and cons of charter schools remains tenuous and divided. Market-oriented educational reformers favor charter schools as the answer to the problems in urban public school systems; public and private funds available for constructing and running charter schools continue to increase. However, charter schools have many critics. For example, in 2016 the NAACP and the Black Lives Matter Movement passed resolutions critical of charter schools and…