Police examine the scene after a gunfight on Harrison and 24th

Reaching across cultural and language barriers, immigrant students at the San Francisco International High School have compiled profiles of individuals working to solve a problem the students are personally affected by or interested in. This group of change makers focuses on combating gang violence.

Donna Safford


Our group interviewed Donna Safford. Donna is from Detroit, Michigan. She works at Horizons in San Francisco and has worked on this topic for 25 years. She has had a lot of different jobs at Horizons. What she usually does is goes to high schools and middle schools and she makes presentations about drugs, alcohol, and gangs.

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When we asked Donna Safford what we could do to prevent gang violence, she said, “It’s really good to work with younger kids because a lot of kids join gangs when they’re in middle school.” She said that teens like me “have a lot of influence…so if young people wanted to go into an elementary school and work with the kids or have a program or talk to them about how violence affects the community or any of these kinds of things, [the younger kids] would see something else besides kids on the corner. They will see someone who goes to school, someone who cares about their community, things like that…”

What You Can Do To Help

If you want to help change the problem of gang violence, you can provide help to youth who are having problems in school by getting tutoring or counseling for them if needed. If a youth drops out of school, he has more risk of possibly joining a gang. It helps if a youth is busy with interests such as sports, music or other after school programs. They will be too busy to spend a lot of time on the streets. It’s also important to help young people find jobs if they want to work so they can make their money legally and not risk getting in trouble with the law.


Carlos Baca , 15, is from Honduras. Lisseth Cortez, 15 , is from El Salvador. Alex, 17, is from China. Shiheng Yu, 17, is from China.

Celina Lucero


Our group interviewed Celina Lucero. She was born and raised in the Mission District of San Francisco. She is great because through her work at Horizons she works with many youth at risk of joining gangs. Horizons is a community based organization, founded in 1965, that provides culturally and linguistically competent substance abuse treatment, substance abuse prevention, employment, and gender-specific services for youth of color and their families living in the Mission District and San Francisco. If people get out of gangs it can change their lives.

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We asked her how people can avoid joining gangs. ”For me, I think teenagers at your age, should have other options…So if you like to do music, right? We have a program for teenagers called The DJ Project. You can DJ, you can learn to make music…We actually had a youth DJ come here to San Francisco International High School to DJ for [school] dances. And we have programs for youth to get jobs. So I think that if you find something that is positive, something that you like to do, then [youth] may be like, ‘Oh, I gotta go to work’…I think we should have opportunities for [youth] to get jobs and try to keep them doing positive things.”

What You Can Do To Help

If you want to help change the problem of gang violence, you can support organizations like Horizons by donating money. If want more information, you can look on this website: www.horizons-SF.org/

Another thing you can do to help give us young people something productive to do like play games or get a job.


Josue Menjivar, 15 , is from El Salvador. Yonglin Yan, 16, is from China. Hector Cruz, 17, is from El Salvador. Ingrid Perez, 16, is from Guatemala.

Anonymous Local Gang Expert – SF Police Department


Our group interviewed a local gang expert from the SF Police Department. He is from El Salvador. He has been working on the issue of gang violence for 17 years. His job is to answer the calls from 911 when there are problems with the gangs. He researches problems like young people with weapons and knives. He interviews the people who are witnesses of the crimes and also the suspects. He goes to court as a juror or witness as an expert on gangs. He knows the colors that gang members use in their clothes and where they spend the most time, as well as what types of crimes are committed daily.

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Our group was specially interested in the problem of gangs in Honduras. We asked our changemaker about it, and he told us a story about a massacre that happened in Honduras that was important because it changed the rules of the game between police and gangs. The massacre happened on December 24, 2004 in response to the future passing of new gang laws in Honduras. The gangs tried to convince the government not to pass the laws. One of the gangsters who planned this massacre was a Honduran national who lived in San Francisco, CA a few years before. In this massacre about 26 people died. Among them there were two kids and eight women. All the people who were attacked were riding the bus. The gang involved in the massacre was called “chinconeros.” They wanted to send a message to the President of Honduras that the gangs were strong and the the government could not stop the gangs. After the massacre the police were scared of the gangs and they started to take the gangs more seriously.

What You Can Do To Help
If you want to help change the problem of gang violence, our changemaker said if you are a teacher or work with youth, you can make meetings in school is about avoiding violence and staying out of gangs.

Another thing you can do to help if you are a parent or family member of a teen, you should try to spend time with your child and talk more with your child about their friends and what they are doing after school.

Cristhian Sevilla,15, is from Honduras. Rudy Paz, 18, is from El Salvador. Carlos Morales, 15, is from Mexico. Cristhian Pineda, 15, is from Honduras.

Eddy Zheng


Eddy Zheng is from GuangZhou, China. He work in Community Youth Center (CYC), at San Francisco. He was worked in this topic for 7 years. He is the project director at CYC and oversees the CYC’s branch office in the Bayview Hunters Point. They have a multicultural youth leadership program that empowers the youth from the community to advocate for themselves, their family and communities. They also outreach to the mono-lingual Chinese population and provide services to them as needed. these are just some of the many programs that help young people and their families.

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“Education was the key to my empowerment and transformation” .

Our group was inspired when Eddy told us a powerful story about why he does his work. When Eddy was young he made many mistakes. He participated in a crime of kidnappings to commit robbery with two other teenagers. Because of that he spent 21 years of his life in jail. In jail, he started to educate himself and learn who he really wanted to be. In jail education was the reason for his transformation. He became a compassionate and educated adult. Now he works teaching and helping young people so they don’t make the same mistakes. It wasn’t easy to be locked up for 21 years. But he tells younger people, “The importance of not giving up on themselves, even though sometimes they are not ready to make changes in their lives, I ask them not give up on themselves.”

What You Can Do To Help

If you want to help change the problem of gang violence you can get involved in addressing the issue. Whenever people talk about the need to change an external condition,social issues or behaviors, they must start the change within themselves first. Gang Violence is not difference.
Another thing you can do to help is you can be a volunteer of the club like Community Youth Center(CYC).If you want more information,you can look at this website: www.cycsf.org or you can call this phone number:(415)-775-2636

Karla, 16, is from El Salvador. Andy, 17, is from China. Yao Ting, 17, is from China, Maganiel, 15, is from Honduras.

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