The San Mateo Youth Foundation (SMYF) provides academic-oriented opportunities for promising, low-income middle and high school students in San Mateo County. With the assistance of the middle school teachers and counselors that know the students best, we select up to 30 students each year to join our program. Through mentoring, college trips, employment in a multi-lingual peer tutoring program, and other college preparatory activities, the SMYF convinces these students that college is a realistic goal and helps them to achieve this goal. The SMYF is a volunteer organization with no overhead; all funds are used for incentive scholarships or student activities.


San Mateo Youth Foundation scholarship recipients are awarded with modest scholarships as an incentive to be involved with the program. Each year, the students come to an annual Goals Meeting at which they set several academic and personal goals. At this Goals Meeting, the students and parents have the opportunity to speak with and hear thoughtful college admissions advice from Ira, our chairman, as well as the other mentors involved with the program.

The mentors meet with the students at the end of the year to determine whether or not the goals were met. By meeting their goals, the students have the opportunity to earn additional funds towards their scholarships.

College Visits

The San Mateo Youth Foundation plans annual trips to the nearby state colleges and UCs. Some of our most successful trips have been to UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, and S.F. State. The tours are guided by SMYF alumni that are now attending the local four year universities.

This opportunity allows students to see the end-goal of our program: getting into college. They are often inspired when we tell them that they will be able to attend the schools we visit, or other qualified California four year universities, regardless of their socio-economic status. It also allows them to form questions around the college application and financial aid processes once they realize that college can be a reality for them.



The San Mateo Youth Foundation loves to go camping! Some of our best memories and strongest bonds are made at the annual YMCA Camp Jones Gulch Camping Trip in La Honda, CA. The students and mentors participate in bonding activities such as soccer, night hikes, making s’mores, and playing board games.

The SMYF also frequents the Presidio in San Francisco, the UC Berkeley Lair of the Bear Camp Gold, and Sierra Club Hutchinson Lodge near Donner Pass.