Youth Changemaker: Paul Monge-Rodriguez

“Paul sets an example for our generation of moving from talk to action, and his efforts in San Francisco continue to improve the lives of area youth in tangible ways.”


- The Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council

Paul Monge-Rodriguez, 23, is a first-generation college graduate and the son of immigrant parents from El Salvador. After resettling in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul attained a bachelor's degree in Global Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Upon returning to San Francisco, Paul jumped into action and advocacy for the greater San Francisco area. He began working as an education justice campaign organizer for the nonprofit Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth and become heavily involved with a number of community initiatives focused on advancing social and economic opportunities, as well as on empowering low-income young people and their families.

Paul was appointed by San Francisco Mayer Ed Lee as one of the executive officers for the San Francisco Youth Commission. In his time serving on the Youth Commission, Paul has been a key player in a number of critical policy victories in San Francisco. For example, he was one of the youth organizers for the Free MUNI for Youth campaign, a grassroots effort led by organizations and leaders to start a pilot program of free transportation passes for low- and moderate-income youth.

As a leader, Paul helped advocate to successfully secure $13 million to launch a new ridership program that provides over 40,000 eligible low- to moderate-income youth in San Francisco with free passes to the local Muni public transportation system.

By making it easier for youth to access public transportation to education, jobs and extra-curricular activities,  Paul and the Free MUNI campaign addressed important opportunity issues for youth—and for the city as a whole, which seeks to boost use of its public transportation.

In addition to his work around transit access, Paul has also been involved with a number of important education equity victories  in the local public education system. He was one of the lead voices in helping to secure $2.4 million from the City of San Francisco to expand afterschool and summer credit recovery opportunities for students in the San Francisco Unified School District who are severely off-track to graduate.

Paul also co-chaired an effort with the San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs to launch a citywide publicity campaign to better inform eligible undocumented children and young adults about President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Paul has demonstrated his passion for serving the needs of at-risk youth in the juvenile justice system. When a controversial proposal surfaced to arm San Francisco Police Officers with stun guns (Tasers), Paul participated in and helped to organize community town halls for allow students, families, and youth services providers to express their concerns about the proposal to the San Francisco Police Department.

The turnout and comment from the public at these town halls contributed to Chief of Police Greg Suhr's withdrawal of the proposal.

With many policy victories to be proud of in California, Paul is headed to his next endeavor on the East coast to continue making a difference as he pursues a Masters in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in the fall of 2013.

He's a fan of youth input in policymaking at all levels, including federal. "A Presidential Youth Council would fill a void by amplifying the voices of young people on critical policy discussions at the federal level," says Paul.  "As young people, we have an important stake in shaping the policies that will likely dictate what opportunities we will have access to in the future.

"Being named a SparkAction Top 24 Under 24 Young Changemaker is an incredible honor and certainly affirms the work that we are doing in San Francisco to make this a city of hope, justice and opportunity," he says.


This profile is one of the Top 24 Under 24 Youth Changemakers, a series hosted by SparkAction and the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council to recognize young changemakers influencing policy and practice at the local, state and national levels.

The members of the youth-led Campaign chose the 24 youth who are featured in this series, from entries submitted by peers and mentors. Read about the selection process.

We’re always looking for more profiles of young people making a difference, so submit one of your own!

San Francisco Youth Commission

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