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Programs for Youth

We believe that bright futures are possible for all of our youth, but it’s easy to get off-track.

Alive & Free is a community of support that helps young people build character and work through any difficulties or trauma they are experiencing. It empowers youth to avoid peer pressure and situations that lead to violence, incarceration, or other negative outcomes like drug addiction or dropping out of school. Alive & Free is about getting on and staying on the right track. Alive & Free is about being Alive & Free… and Educated. Our program has produced over 225 college graduates—60 of whom have also gone on to obtain graduate degrees.

Leadership Academy

The Alive & Free Leadership Academy offers youth ages 14-24 from all over the Bay Area a safe learning environment where academic excellence is the norm and dreams and aspirations of successful living are a reality. The Academy helps youth develop the verbal, research and writing skills and the discipline needed to succeed in a college environment and the world of work. Some students enter the program with the specific goal of college entrance. For others whose educational goals are unclear, the idea of preparing for college evolves as intellectual curiosity blossoms.

  • Serves 250+ youth ages 14-24 each year
  • Math, verbal, research and writing skills
  • Life skills to succeed work or college
  • Preparation for GED exam
  • Critical thinking about violence-related issues

Join the Alive & Free Movement

To End Violence and Change Lives


College Prep Class

  • Parallels structure of first-year college classes
  • Academic counseling to plan for, apply to, and select college
  • Financial literacy training
  • Scholarship eligibility

Family Meetings

Family Meetings are a time of nurturing, reinforcement, motivation and renewal. Alumni serve as role models and mentors who share their “before and after” stories and the results of following the Alive & Free violence prevention prescription. Current challenges are discussed and youth are shown how to apply the “Rules for Living” and provided counseling.


Methodology & Success

What sets Alive & Free apart is the framework of violence as a disease. Like a disease, it is transmitted by the "germs” of bad information, bad instruction, bad advice, and bad examples that to young people appear to be good.  Youth are exposed to these “germs” via their families, peers and neighborhoods; through music, television, video games and movies. The disease appears as techniques for survival known as “game” or “street smarts” when in fact the opposite is true.

The Alive & Free Prescription identifies and addresses the symptomatic thinking that puts young people at risk, the actions and behaviors that put young people at risk for violence, the feelings and emotions that contribute to destructive outcomes and the Rules for Living that promote positive lifestyle choices. Young people who learn the Alive & Free prescription also have a new set of life skills to make choices that help them succeed in life, go to college and give back to their communities.

Over 29 years, Alive & Free has put 216 primarily African American youth through college. Our college retention rate is 92%, compared to 39.5% for African Americans nationwide. Studies have proven Alive & Free to be effective in reducing incarceration and violence, and at helping at-risk young people change negative cultural norms, make healthy decisions regardless of external influences, and become healthy, positive, and productive citizens.


Before Alive & Free, I didn’t care. I wasn’t looking forward to a career, and I wasn’t looking forward to school. Now I’m learning stuff for my life— finance, how to judge if people are good or bad for you, how to escape the hood, how to help the community. And I didn’t know I was this smart, to tell you the truth. It makes me think a lot and it triggers a lot of emotions. Now I know how to deal with them.

Issac Munoz

It’s an inspiring place. For me to have seen at an early age successful African Americans— growing up in Bay View, we don’t have that. There were no images of successful black people. So Alive & Free brought that to life for me.  

Nzinga Mpenda