In 2017, the Inner Sunset Community Advocates were a “young and inexperienced grant-making body” that had never made a multi-year grant.
But Charlie Babcock, treasurer of the group, and his wife Kathy, a school nurse in San Francisco, kept hearing “excited” updates about the Parks Conservancy’s Urban Trailblazers program from a middle schooler named Chastity.
“It gave her team-building experience, it gave her social experience,” Charlie said. “It got her outdoors and they were going to national parks and on camping trips.”
The Inner Sunset Community Advocates made their first big grant, $75,000 over three years, enabling Urban Trailblazers to move from summer-only to year-round at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in San Francisco’s Excelsior neighborhood.
That meant more youth seeing the Presidio for the first time or going on trips to Yosemite and beyond. For a small community group looking to make a big impact, it was a perfect fit.
Have some pizza and go backpacking with the Urban Trailblazers. Video
Sam Tran, the Middle School Programs Manager at the Crissy Field Center, said the pairing “was like serendipity, it was meant to be.”
Sam explains how students in Urban Trailblazers strive to be RICH: “Be respectful, have integrity, be courageous, and be humble students.” They learn camping skills at Rob Hill Campground in the Presidio and take trips to national parks around the state. In summer 2018, they created pizza companies and worked on all aspects of the business, from price points to organic ingredients to T-shirt logos.
Sam says one of the best parts of Urban Trailblazers is when youth get to hike, lead, and create alongside new people from all corners of the city. That’s why he’s so happy to extend Urban Trailblazers further.
“I’m just really grateful for this opportunity,” Sam said. “With their support, we’re reaching kids that we don’t really reach.”