Dear Wu Yee Community,
Over forty years ago, our founders saw the desperate need for child care for immigrant parents working for low wages in Chinatown. When the Nixon administration threatened to cut funding for social services in the early 70’s, parents, social workers, and teachers in San Francisco realized that creating a child development center alone wouldn’t be enough to help all families, they needed everyone in the community to raise their voices together to create lasting change that would involve engaging in social, economic, and political issues.
This paved the way for the formation of the Association of Children’s Rights, later renamed Wu Yee Children’s Services, to advocate for child care services and early childhood education for immigrants and underserved families in Chinatown. The name Wu Yee, coined by co-founder Catherine Ko, has become a metaphor representing the value we hold in each person’s unique name, identity, and story to promote intercultural awareness and collaboration. “Wu Yee” means “Protector of Children” in Cantonese, which represents the core value and mission of our organization. It also pays homage to the Chinese cultural origin and heritage of the majority of the original service recipients who faced discrimination and were excluded from public services and employment opportunities. Today, we serve families from all different cultures and backgrounds, and we are proud of our name as it recalls the history of the first child care center in Chinatown that was established by the joint forces of children’s services providers and immigrant parents who were both service recipients and advocates for children’s rights.
In response to the mainstream opposition of immigrants in America during the 70’s, Wu Yee became a pioneering agency in developing multicultural preschool curricula for students. Teachers were free to experiment with different activities that introduced other languages, customs, and holidays to encourage and support students in developing self-esteem and a strong sense of identity. Teachers attended workshops, exchanged ideas with other child care centers, and partnered with parents to design lesson plans that reflected the students’ diverse racial and cultural backgrounds.
Today, Wu Yee continues to advocate for the rights of all children to be safe, healthy, and happy as San Francisco’s largest Head Start/Early Head Start provider. With city-wide child development centers, home visitors, and Family Child Care partners, Wu Yee connects thousands of parents to services through its Child Care Resource and Referrals and Joy Lok Family Resource Center, and ensures high quality early care and education throughout the city through its Early Child Development and Child Care Provider Training Program.
San Francisco’s progressive spirit has deep roots within immigrant, migrant, and refugee communities; from Chinatown to the Bayview, each culture has brought new and shared values that strengthen our greater community. At Wu Yee, as parents, staff, and community members, we are one big family sharing the same vision and responsibilities for the future of our next generation. Be a part of history and consider joining as a 40th Anniversary Giving Circle donor. We are grateful for your support of Wu Yee and would appreciate your generous support again this year. Together, through high-quality care and education for our children we will continue to build thriving families and strong communities.
Thank you for being part of our family.
p.s. Wu Yee has thrived over the past forty years because of dedicated supporters like you, and we hope you will support us again this year! If you attended a Wu Yee gala in the past, we thank you. Please note, we will not be hosting a gala this year and hope you will support our 40th Anniversary Giving Circle and events planned in lieu of the gala. Thank you to our 40th Anniversary Giving Circle donors!