The New Justice League

Ben Christopher | June 20, 2014 | Story Best of the Bay

Read More: The making (and marketing) of Bat Kid.

All the Best of the Bay 2014.

Kids in Parks
Recommended by: Sabrina “Dr. Suj” Gabel, child psychologist and director of Seesaw, a well-being studio for children and families
“Their mission is to help underprivileged kids understand and connect with nature. San Francisco has so much natural beauty, so it’s really important that kids take a break from the fluorescent lights. Going on an overnight camping trip, visiting an organic farm, and learning about native Bay Area plant life are not only enriching, but can also teach really valuable skills.”

Family Resource Network
Recommended by: Elizabeth Sautter, speech language pathologist and codirector of Communication Works
“Children who have special needs—from articulation challenges to autism to physical impairments to cognitive impairments—usually qualify for services within the school district. But parents need to understand the legality and logistics of supporting their kids at school and at home. The Family Resource Network provides the information and offers the training, and they do it in different languages.”

Blind Babies Foundation
Recommended by: RenĂ© “Poppy” Rodriguez, professional face painter and “Fix It Elf” at Family Giving Tree, a Milpitas charity that delivers gifts to low-income children
“When we work with them, they’re always very, very specific about exactly what they need. We’re talking about gifts for blind and low-vision kids, so while most organizations will take any old ball, they’ll want a ball with lots of high color contrast, and also covered in bumps, and so on. Toys are just one small part of what they do—they help arrange for medical care, they offer advice to parents, they do it all.”

College Track
Recommended by: Angela Aquino, former Cleveland Elementary School principal and instructor at Mills College’s graduate School of Education
“Unless your family is in tune with college culture, even navigating applications can be hard! College Track helps students get the grades, write grant applications, and make sense of the crazy financial aid process. Once students have successfully gone off to college and are away from home in a completely different culture, it gives them the support to stay there and finish.”

Oasis for Girls
Recommended by: Elizabeth Brodersen, director of education at A.C.T.
“They provide not just academic support, but self-esteem building and empowerment opportunities to teenage girls from all over the city—by offering them different experiences with the arts, including with WritersCorp, another terrific organization. And this summer, we’ll be partnering with them to give the girls intensive theater classes.”

Positive Coaching Alliance
Recommended by: Don Heidary, cofounder of Orinda Aquatics
“Youth sports can go a little off track sometimes in terms of priorities. The Positive Coaching Alliance offers seminars and workshops to help coaches and parents keep athletics in perspective. Sports should be about building a healthy, positive, and productive environment for young athletes. Our team’s motto is ‘Character first,’ and that’s their philosophy too.”

Leah’s Pantry
Recommended by: Elianna Friedman, culinary educator at CUESA
“They run nutrition and cooking classes that are meant for people on a tight budget, and their kids program—mostly for at-risk teens—is stellar. I like their model: Encourage a student to pick one dietary or culinary goal and take the six weeks to hone in on that.”

City Youth Now
Recommended by: Judge Patrick Mahoney, former supervising judge of the Unified Family Court in San Francisco
“They provide children within the delinquency and dependency systems things that they otherwise would not receive—backpacks, prom dresses, or money for a special event. These are things that a social worker, a probation officer, or a lawyer can’t provide. They’re there for when the kids need something special.”

Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco.

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