General Information

Transforming Youth into Future Leaders of Health Care
FACES for the Future Coalition’s programs for health career exploration, academic enrichment, wellness training and youth leadership development


In direct response to events observed in the Adolescent Medicine Clinics, Dr. Tomás A. Magaña and Dr. Barbara Staggers co-founded FACES for the Future in 2000 at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland (CHRCO). They witnessed young people who were otherwise motivated to overcome academic challenges struggling to survive their circumstances. There was a lack of appropriate support and pathways available to guide them to success. Recognizing that the three leading causes of morbidity and mortality (i.e. trauma, homicide and suicide) among adolescents in the nation could be prevented in part through active engagement of youth in opportunities for personal and professional growth, FACES was designed to address adolescent health disparities among at-risk youth through opportunities for health careers exploration, academic enrichment, wellness training and youth leadership development.

FACES focuses primarily on youth from underserved communities; however, it is imperative that all youth interested in the health professions be aware of the role that culture plays in health disparities. Consequently, FACES provides exciting and dynamic health professions exposure and education to all youth through its summer medical programs. FACES for the Future’s goals are two-folded: (1) to transform the lives of young people by supporting them in the development of successful careers in the health professions; and (2) changing the health outcomes in underserved communities by diversifying the health workforce through the presence of FACES students in those careers. While the immediate impact is on the individual student, in broader context the efforts of FACES will change the community.

 FACES  has locations in San Diego, Hayward, and El Centro.


FACES for the Future programs are comprised of four key programmatic strategies that together provide a unifying framework, regardless of student demographics, type of program or individual model.

  1. Health Careers Exploration
    Youth are exposed to health careers and are assisted in setting and achieving their goals. Primarily this is accomplished by connecting students to health professionals who serve as supervisors and mentors in real clinical rotations. Students are exposed to professional expectations, training environments and are connected to alumni from the previous years.
  2. Academic Enrichment
    FACES for the Future recognizes the importance of academics in preparation for entering the health professions. It has thus attempted to fill in some of the academic gaps in the underfunded public education system through tutoring, working in close conjunction with teachers and school leaders, and counseling to begin the college admissions process.
    Enrichment activities are also offered: field trips focusing on cultural competency, work based learning and skills workshops, an open forum for dialogue about issues ranging from ethics to analyzing case studies. FACES commits to providing academic support to all of its students regardless of prior performance.
  3. Wellness Support
    FACES is unique from most pipeline and summer academy programs because it focuses on the well-being of the whole child. FACES believes that youth are unable to fully realize and embrace their goals without support in navigating the challenges which influence them. Therefore FACES specializes in psycho-social interventions when needed, referrals to outside services and partners when appropriate, programs that teach a myriad of life skills and a safe, supportive environment populated with adult role models who embody the core values of the program.
  4. Youth Leadership Development
    Knowing that these young people will become the leaders of tomorrow, FACES devotes itself to training and preparing them to be advocates and strong voices for the underserved. Students engage in enrichment activities designed to highlight policy issues and are exposed to diverse patient populations. Furthermore, they are given tools to help them learn oral and written communication skills and are trained to be peer health educators in areas such as asthma, obesity and HIV/AIDS.


  1. Health Scholars Academy

FACES Health Scholars Academy recruits students from some of the most medically underserved and ethnically diverse areas in Alameda County. All students in the program are considered “at risk” due to the high poverty, crime, unemployment, and mortality rates in their communities. Participants are involved in the program over a three year period starting their sophomore year in high school.  FACES partners with  academic partners in the area, allowing students to receive academic credit for their participation and successful completion of the program. Acceptance into the program is based on the “potential” to succeed in the program in addition to the motivation to participate fully in all aspects of the FACES experience.

The following shows how FACES implements the Four Key Elements of FACES programming:

Health Careers Exploration:

  • Clinical Rotations in departments such as Anesthesiology, Diagnostic Imaging, Pulmonary Function, the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), among as many as 60 others.
  • Exposure to one-on-one relationships with rotation supervisors who provide support, guidance and hands-on training.
  • Interactive workshops and field trips designed to further immerse students in the health professions and issues of health disparities in minority communities.

Academic Support and Enrichment:

  • Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) Medical Professions training in the sophomore year, covering such topics as medical terminology, medical ethics and legal protections for personal privacy.
  • SAT support through Kaplan and consistent interaction with teachers and academic partners.
  • College support for applying to college and for financial aid.

Wellness Support and Psycho-Social Intervention:

  • Individualized case management with immediate referrals when necessary.
  • Mind-body awareness training in collaboration with the Mind Body Awareness Project.
  • Constant mentoring and support from a network of  health providers, staff and safe adults

Youth Leadership Development:

  • Opportunities for peer advocacy through programs, such as Youth Empowering Youth and Youth Health Educators in which FACES students teach about health issues such as obesity, asthma and reproductive health.
  • Workshops that focus on policy solutions by highlighting health disparities in minority and urban communities, and the issues that contribute to those disparities.
  • Working with and supporting youth to seek out leadership opportunities in FACES as well as their schools and neighborhoods.

*If you have any questions about the program or the application process, please contact the FACES for the Future Coalition at (510) 285 – 5656 or email


2. Health Professions Academy

The FACES Summer Medical Academy is an educational summer program providing young people with unique and exciting opportunities to explore the world of medical training and practice. Founded by Dr. Tomás A. Magaña in 2005, the FACES Summer Medical Academy is meant to inspire students to become caring, insightful health professionals in a complex and rapidly changing world.

The program is  offered in partnership with Samuel Merritt University (SMU) in Oakland, CA. The program will be heald on SMU’s campus in Oakland over the course of two weeks, and is open to any high school student 15 years and older, regardless of race/ethnicity, school or geographic area. The program seeks applicants who are highly motivated, responsible and genuinely interested in learning what it is like to be a health provider.

The Health Professions Academy meets the FACES Four Key Elements in the following ways:

Health Careers Exploration:

  • Students are immersed in clinical workshops with direct training in areas such as suturing, taking vitals, gross anatomy, intubation and immunization.
  • Workshops with a variety of guest speakers including physicians and patient panels.
  • Clinical case studies.

Academic Support and Enrichment:

  • Field trips to  San Francisco State University, California Pacific Medical Center, George Mark Children’s House and other partners to participate in on-site discussions and trainings.
  • In depth conversations led by staff to address such issues as end of life care, cultural competency in healthcare, and ethics.
  • Problem-based learning activities designed to develop critical thinking skills, curiosity, and self-motivated learning.

Wellness Support:

  • Exposure to caring health professionals, FACES staff and carefully selected college interns to answer questions, encourage and support student growth.
  • Consistent opportunity to debrief during the day so any student questions, thoughts or feelings can be addressed.
  • Academy Graduation Ceremony and Social to include and incorporate family support into the FACES program.

Youth Leadership Development:

  • Daily “Thought Questions” meant to provoke consideration of the overall landscape of health in the U.S.—including such topics as health disparities in minority communities, the role of policy and public health, and international medicine.
  • The chance to build a viable network of peers, health professionals and staff to further develop the pathway to a career in medicine.
  • Doctor-patient role playing to simulate real life clinical settings and situations to hone personal and professional skills.

*Tuition for the current program is $1800.00 and covers all program costs including program materials, transportation for field trips, daily breakfast and lunch. Please know that FACES is unable to offer financial assistance to students at this time.

Key Partners

Academic Partners

  • Southwest High School
  • Holtville High School
  • Imperial High School
  • Calipatria High School


Community Partners

  • El Centro Regional Medical Center (ECRMC)
  • Pioneers Memorial Hospital
  • Clinicas De Salud Del Pueblo
  • Imperial Valley College
  • San Diego State University
  • Workforce Development Office



Major successes of the program include:

  • There is a 100% graduation rate from the FACES program and a 92-100% graduation rate from high school. This is a great accomplishment when compared to the average graduation rate of local high schools.
  • 100% of students who participate in the FACES program are accepted into 2-year and 4-year institutions. Of these, 92% intend to pursue health careers.
  • All youth are exposed to health disparities and the influence of culture in providing healthcare. Students are more culturally competent and sensitive to the diverse populations in the area.
  • The increased success of students from “at risk” communities will diversify the healthcare workforce, leading to better health outcomes for people of color and low socio-economic status. The FACES program is not only a direct impact program for youth, but is also a workforce development program seeking to end health disparities by transitioning underserved youth into health professions.

Unexpected Challenges

FACES for the Future encountered obstacles in its efforts, some including:

  • Securing funding for the program. Since FACES is not funded by their host organizations, grant writing and fundraising serve as tools for acquiring funds to maintain the programs. Securing funding often diverts attention from program planning and implementation.
  • There is a tremendous amount of coordination involved since FACES acts as an intermediary program working with students, families, and academic and industry partners. Coordinators work with teachers, career counselors, education administrators, clinic supervisors, and hospitals, to name a few. When year-round students are on summer break, FACES also hosts Summer Medical Academies, which are being expanded, so much coordination has to be in place for all programs to function properly.