We are committed to equitable access to the arts, serving San Francisco public high school students through free, high quality and relevant arts education and leadership programming. We use the same principles as we extend our programming to the community through [x]space and our citywide projects.


Key Ingredients

We believe that the arts are transformational to the lives of youth. Our model is based on the following “key ingredients” that are specific to the needs of building a diverse, creative community of urban high school youth.

  • Free

  • Youth Across SF Public High Schools

  • Instruction by Faculty Artists

  • Project-based learning from Ideation to Installation

  • Youth Leadership in Program + Project Development

  • Multidisciplinary

  • Sustained Programming

  • Studio Classes

  • Creative Sector Preparation

  • Professional Art Spaces

  • Connections to Other Organizations, Artists, and Partners


Curriculum Framework

Our project-based learning curriculum framework was developed in partnership with a faculty member from California College of the Arts + Alameda County Office of Education. Using CA State VAPA and Expanded Learning standards for 9-12th Graders, our work is at the intersection of youth development and arts education best practices. We embody the Creative Youth Development principles and believe that our youth-driven, hands on, and rigorous study of the arts makes our programming exemplary.


What we see as a result…

Through participating in our programs, we see our youth improve in the following specific areas: Technical arts skills, 21st Century Skills, Leadership, Participation in a creative community, Career Sector readiness, Self-expression, and Design thinking. These areas are particularly successful as we give youth an opportunity to shape the city around them which increases their investment in San Francisco, enhances their understanding of their unique role as youth artists and activists, allows for opportunities for youth and arts advocacy, provides opportunities for substantive public projects, and builds cross-sector collaboration. As they participate in our programming, they develop the principals of an artistic practice like deep connection to a discipline and a defined creative practice.

It is central to our work that projects move from ideation to production and installation, offering valuable life, workforce, and creative skills. This is relevant because as the arts expand and flourish in San Francisco, many of these disciplines have declining numbers of artists of color contributing to them. We foster the exploration of fields like architecture and fine arts by youth that may not generally have access to them, and give them tangible skills to access the creative economy in their futures. We see the work of our young artists who are emerging creative sector participants increasingly contributing to the landscape of the city. We know not all our students will go on to be professional artists, but we think that the core values that they learn at YAX are transferable to their next steps, leading to a lifelong connection to the arts and its relevance in a thriving society.