SPACE 4 US is a community organization that empowers under-served young people to explore and pursue meaningful career paths. They're doing amazing work for young people. Read on to hear more!
Tell us all about you and your organization!
My name is Crystal Chan. I am an 18-year-old student activist and writer based in San Francisco, California. I serve as the Founder and Executive Director of SPACE 4 US, a community organization that empowers under-served young people to explore and pursue meaningful career paths. I also represent District 7 on the San Francisco Youth Commission, serve as the Director of Communications for Myrna Melgar's campaign for District 7 Supervisor, and am a reporter for Channel Kindness, a digital platform created by Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. I am passionate about advocating for low-income families and leveling the playing field for underprivileged students to reach their full potential.
I was inspired to start SPACE 4 US in the summer of 2018, after realizing that there weren’t any programs in my community that provided career exploration resources for students from low-income backgrounds. Coming from families with parents who didn’t get to go to college, don’t speak English, and work in low-paying jobs, my friends and I often feel lost when thinking about future career options. The adults in our lives work minimum wage and blue-collar jobs that come with poor job security, so we have limited exposure to different career paths. Compared to more well-off students, we don’t have access to the same social networks or connections that can introduce me to the diverse career opportunities out there. Many of my friends and peers from similar socioeconomic backgrounds feel the same way: we don’t know what we want to pursue and we want to explore different careers, but we lack the resources to do so.
To help kids who are struggling like myself access career exploration resources, I applied for grants and organized career networking events for middle school, high school, and college students in the Bay Area. I invited professionals from different career fields to speak on panels and lead career workshops so that our students can get a glimpse of what it’s like to work at their jobs. While programs out there limit their services to a certain age group or only students who have prior affiliation with the program, SPACE 4 US welcomes all students who are interested in joining to get involved. Instead of just meeting professionals, we give students the opportunity to learn about jobs through hands-on, interactive workshops. Additionally, our professionals come from diverse career fields instead of just one industry. To date, I have organized over 25 career events, partnered with 6 nonprofits, and directly impacted over 370 students through SPACE 4 US.
Why do you think it’s important for your generation to let their voices be heard?
Young people are our future and our present. There are so many issues in our communities that have immediate and long-term effects on our lives, whether it’s mental health, gun violence, or climate change. Young people have been at the forefront of important social movements like the March for our Lives and Sunrise climate strikes, fighting for a better future for all of us. I believe that youth have a valuable voice to contribute to our society, and it’s important that we use our voices to amplify social movements and move towards building a more equitable world.
Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
While there are many challenging issues affecting our world, I believe that we have the power to create powerful change as a collective and work towards building a more equitable future for everyone. Right now is the time to change systems for the better. It’s time to listen to our world’s most marginalized communities, build a more inclusive democracy, and create meaningful change.
What are the most important issues facing our world right now? And in the future?
Some of the most important issues facing our world include climate change, gun violence, and income inequality. These issues disproportionately impact marginalized, low-income communities, who often bear the brunt of environmental racism, voter suppression, and poverty.
What does your organization offer that helps the world be a better place?
I believe that the opportunity to access a fulfilling career is a basic human right and I want to make sure students everywhere have the chance to learn about the careers that are out there. Through SPACE 4 US, I am taking the first step to level the playing field by empowering students in my community to pursue a career that brings them both professional fulfillment and financial stability. In doing so, I hope students who come from underserved backgrounds like me can have the opportunity to break out of the poverty cycle and reach their full potential.
Founding and managing SPACE 4 US has been such an inspiring journey. It's allowed me to channel my personal experiences into a project that drives social change and truly makes an impact in the lives of underserved students who don't traditionally have access to career mentors and resources. Running SPACE 4 US has also solidified my passion for social activism, and I hope to continue doing this work in college and beyond.
Will you be voting in the next election?
Please tell us all about your current campaigns, projects, and endeavors.
Earlier this year, I launched the SPACE 4 US chapter program to mobilize and empower youth to organize career exploration events in their own communities. We currently have youth-run chapters in the Bay Area, and I hope to expand our existing chapter network to schools and universities around the world and engage more young people to get involved in the movement. If there is anyone out there who is interested in starting a chapter at their schools or communities or would like to partner with SPACE 4 US, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to get started. We'd love to have you join our movement!
In addition to leading SPACE 4 US, I also represent District 7 on the San Francisco Youth Commission, a cohort of 17 youth that advises the San Francisco Mayor and Board of Supervisors on policies and laws impacting young people in San Francisco. As a member of the Commission’s Civic Engagement Committee, I’m a leader for San Francisco’s Vote16 campaign. For the past year, I’ve been campaigning to extend voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds in San Francisco’s local and municipal elections. I’m also the Director of Communications for Myrna Melgar’s campaign, and I’m organizing a District 7 youth town hall for students to work with elected officials to address issues like educational inequality and sexual harassment policies in schools.
Tell everyone where to find your online and on social platforms.