Located in San Francisco’s Sunset District, Sunset Youth Services supports the development of youth from disadvantaged communities through innovative attachment strategies designed to foster creativity, belonging, and long-term stability. Since 1993, SYS has worked to build safe relationships with young people and families in San Francisco. Their approach begins with the belief that every young person has the ability to realize his or her potential given the right supports and opportunities.
One of the innovative strategies of SYS involves youth in creative arts, including UpStar Records, the agency’s youth-run record label aimed at turning today’s hip hop enthusiasts into tomorrow’s digital technology leaders. This innovative workforce development program provides employment and leadership opportunities for young people, including youth incarcerated in San Francisco’s Juvenile Justice Center.
SYS operates UpStar Studios with recording equipment installed at the Juvenile Justice Center. Staff members from SYS visit the Center several times a week to record tracks developed by incarcerated youth. As Center director Luis Recinos told the San Francisco Examiner, the partnership with SYS supports the center’s goal to give youth positive opportunities while they are held in custody. “Sometimes it takes a program such as this to spark something in them that changes the way that they want to live their lives,” Recinos said.
Youth involved in UpStar Studios are trained by recording professionals and they get hands-on experience recording, mixing, mastering, releasing, distributing and promoting their own music and videos. Through this form of project-based learning, youth gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities that everyone needs to be successful in educational and career pursuits.