After completing my graduate studies in City & Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, I was eager to enter the real world and find new ways to teach urban planning in a way that resonates with local communities. I believed that we needed to develop new curriculum and ways to engage the next generation of urban planners and community advocates. From this, the idea for the Chinatown Urban Institute was born.
The Chinatown Urban Institute is a youth empowerment and professional development program offered by the Chinatown Community Development Center in San Francisco. Its mission is to educate and empower young leaders ages 18-24 to understand and take action on urban planning issues, using the City as a living and breathing laboratory for knowledge. Through an inquiry-based approach, Urban Fellows learn the history, technical skills, and pragmatic applications of the planning profession as a tool for social justice and advocacy. Biweekly sessions feature seminars, walking (or bike) tours, and interactive fieldwork components to give the participants hands-on experience in grassroots community planning.
Since its inception five years ago, the program now has over 60 alumni. Past Fellows have gone on to pursue graduate cities in city planning or related field, or they have found full-time employment in the public, non-profit, and private sector with a focus on community development.