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Student and Youth Engagement

Link21 is a Program working to create a better future for generations to come. Therefore, student and youth engagement is a key focus of our multi-faceted engagement program. Link21 is committed to working closely with organizations and institutions that represent our Megaregional youth to collaborate on the best opportunities to reach and engage these audiences in meaningful discussions about their concerns, needs, and ideas for the future train network

College and University Campus Outreach

One way we are learning more from younger generations are to partner with area colleges and universities to interact with students at tabling events, attending and presenting to key classes or programs, and engaging students in planning exercises.

Link21 has partnered with the following universities to table on campus and connect with their students and faculty:

  • San Jose State University’s Climate Change and Sustainability Fair
  • California State University, East Bay
  • San Francisco State University
Link21 outreach at San José State University’s Climate Change and Sustainability Fair, October 2022.
Link21 outreach at San José State University’s Climate Change and Sustainability Fair, October 2022.
Link21 outreach with students at San Francisco State University, November 2022.
Link21 outreach with students at San Francisco State University, November 2022.

In addition, Link21 has partnered with the University of California, Berkeley in a variety of ways to engage students and faculty directly in discussions and planning work related to the Program. 

UC Berkeley Parking & Transportation - Mobility & Equity Committee

The Mobility and Equity Committee’s goal is to identify and recommend policies and strategies to improve awareness about UC Berkeley’s alternative transportation and micro-mobility initiatives. Link21 planning is not just considering the rail infrastructure that would be constructed with a new train crossing, but also how to create improved connections to all modes of travel to meet rider needs plus help communities thrive by offering effective and integrated transportation systems. 

UC Berkeley City Planning Students Link Solutions to Problem

Students in UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design’s Transportation and Land Use Studio, led by professor Karen Trapenberg Frick, collaborated with BART and Link21 Team members to improve planning efforts and research Program topics, such as the development of an equity assessment tool, an Oakland station siting analysis, and freight and passenger service efficiency improvements.  

The Master of City Planning and Master of Transportation Engineering candidates presented their results to BART and the Link21 Team in November 2023. Questions were posed and suggestions offered on how findings could be potentially implemented into the Link21 Program, and where work could be expanded.

“We are all so impressed by the research produced by these students on Link21. With this collaboration between UC Berkeley and the Program, we’re incorporating critical viewpoints from the youth and students who will see the benefits of the improvements in the future,” said Link21 Program Director, Sadie Graham.

While many of the students are quickly approaching graduation in 2024, some will continue their research projects to further improve the tools created and develop more defined recommendations for the Link21 Program. For more details, please visit the Student and Youth Partnerships page.

Youth-Focused Presentations and Partnerships 

Another way the Link21 Team is reaching Megaregional youth is to partner directly with Community-Based Organizations that interact and represent our youth. Working together, we identify opportunities and activities that allow us to share ideas and learn from the next generation.  

A recent presentation to Rose Foundation’s New Voices are Rising Project allowed the Team to engage directly with a young audience to discuss their unique transportation needs and learn how they want to shape their communities.  

Link21 also connects with key Youth Commissions found across the Megaregion. Youth Commissions are comprised of commissioners between the ages of 12 to 23, tasked with tackling important public issues and providing their recommendations on public policies to their local city government. To date, presentations have been given to the San Francisco and Oakland Commissions with the goal to learn directly from the commissioners what their key concerns are, or how Link21 can benefit their communities. 

Link21 Program Director Sadie Graham presents to the Oakland Youth Commission, March 2023.
Link21 Program Director Sadie Graham presents to the Oakland Youth Commission, March 2023. 

Special Events 

September 2023 was Transit Month and during this time, the Link21 Team participated in a number of events along with BART and Capitol Corridor, the co-sponsors of Link21.

At BART’s Meet the Anime Mascots event in September 2023, over 700 riders came to meet the newly released anime mascots, take photos, and grab prizes. Check out the characters here

A group of cosplayers dressed up as BART Anime Mascots stand in front and behind of a large Fleet of the Future cardboard cutout and pose for the camera.
BART Meet the Anime Mascots event at Powell Street Station in San Francisco, September 2023. Find these Cosplayers on Instagram at the following handles: @acosplayingtofu, @sharko._.cos, @lovi.d, @azureusmusique, @craftysorceress, @sorawarudesuka, and @ranma23456.

Link21 attended the event to engage riders and discuss the future of passenger rail. The Team also showcased the newly designed Program coloring pages. Download, print, and color your own page today.


Link21 and our communities benefit from BART’s paid, project-based internships. Our interns gain real-world experiences that foster their educational and career development goals, while gaining an introduction to transit career options that will support a future workforce pipeline.

Florance Zhang

Intern Spotlight

Meet Florance Zhang, a multi-talented student and artist, who spent eight weeks interning with the Link21 Program. Florance grew up in Los Gatos in the South Bay, with family roots planted in Hong Kong.

Florance spent her time on the Program supporting station planning and wayfinding efforts, bringing a fresh perspective and experiences stemming from her upbringing in northern California and her time spent in Hong Kong.

Florance and two colleagues were tasked with making recommendations to BART on station wayfinding. This involved multijurisdictional research and trips on the train to assess transfers between BART, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor and other trains. Florance drew from her lived experience in Hong Kong and incorporated some of their best practices for wayfinding and accessibility into her recommendations.

Another highlight for Florance was supporting station planning. She enjoyed using mapping technology to assess proposed station locations. Being mindful of the space and considering the impact a station may have on a community is something that Florance is passionate about. Through her work she looked at factors such as land use, environmental features, community resources, and future development.

Entering her sophomore year at UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design, Florance will carry forward valuable lessons from her time on the Link21 Program and is excited to share her experiences with her classmates. She recognizes the importance of multiple perspectives and factors when making decisions about transportation, including safety, operational requirements, maintenance considerations, and community needs. Florance thrived in her role on the Program and learned to be comfortable while being uncomfortable. By putting herself out there, she made the most of her time during the Link21 internship. 

When asked what advice she would give to future BART interns, Florance shared:
 “Transportation isn’t just about planning and engineering. It’s about a collective of experienced professionals that are advocating for community. It’s more than just moving people from one place to another.”

We would like to thank Florance for her contributions and we look forward to seeing the great things she will achieve. If you would like to learn more about Florance, and her work, visit her LinkedIn Profile.

Check out our Events page for more information on past events and to learn about upcoming events.