The mission of the VYDC is to empower under-served Asian-Pacific Islander and urban youth with the knowledge and confidence to define their future and reach their full potential. We do this by developing leadership skills, supporting academics, providing job opportunities, and strengthening relationships with family and community.
In the 1970s, scores of families fled war-ravaged Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, many settling in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, one of the poorest neighborhoods in San Francisco. Over 2 million Southeast Asian refugees between the years 1975 to 1991 came to the United States; the largest population resettling in cities throughout California. While this was an opportunity to start new lives, the transition was challenging, especially for youth and their parents. Refugee and immigrant parents faced limited social support upon arrival; overwhelm with refugee mental health issues of trauma, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For refugee and immigrant youth, many faced the challenge of acculturation, assimilation, limited parental involvement with school and other interests, language barrier and isolation.
In 1978, a group of Vietnamese refugees led by Lam Duong founded the Vietnamese Youth Development Center (VYDC) to provide much-needed support and practical assistance. With the support from numerous people and community organizations in San Francisco, VYDC was first housed at Glide Memorial Church through the support of Reverend Lloyd Wake. For several months of VYDC founding, volunteers from other Asian youth serving organizations, particularly Chinatown and Central City agencies assisted a large number of newly arrived refugee youth with immediate needs- such as employment, school enrollment, public assistance benefits, housing, advocacy, etc. Many refugee youth at that time were unaccompanied male minors.
VYDC has since grown from a one-room office offering translation services, English as a Second Language and vocational classes, to a locally and nationally-recognized multi-service center serving all youth, of all backgrounds, throughout San Francisco.