Philosophy and Approach

The name Turning Heads was created by a former student out of detention, who was inspired to ‘turn the heads’ of those people he assumed would always see him as a delinquent. We feel it is important to create vocational programs that are both appealing to our target population in San Francisco, and linked to real and immediate economic and academic pathways.


In 1999, Turning Heads began a unique program that combined vocational arts instruction and entrepreneurship training at Log Cabin Ranch, a San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department (SFJPD) detention facility for male youth. Turning Heads adapted its curriculum from NFTE, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, an international leader in entrepreneurship education for youth.

Our programs at Log Cabin Ranch were featured in a 2003 New York Times article, “Out of Trouble, Into Business.” Turning Heads’ vocational programs at Log Cabin Ranch continued successfully until June 2009, when SFJPD adopted a new model of operations. Subsequently, the facility no longer contracts with community-based organizations to support its vocational education programs.

In 2005, Turning Heads launched the Sewing and Fashion Design Program for high-risk young women of color, with a grant from Horizons Unlimited of San Francisco. Young women who had completed the introductory class in 2005 initiated the Sweet Dreams Business Cooperative, a successful profit-sharing business run by the students. In 2006, the Sewing and Fashion Design Program was featured in an article titled “The Start-Up as the First Step Up” in the Business Day section of The New York Times. There were so many young women and community organizations interested in the sewing classes that in 2007, Turning Heads replicated the class at Hilltop High School (in the Mission District) and the Buchanan YMCA (in the Western Addition), and were also able to establish our own studio in the Mission District.

In 2011-2012, in addition to classes and Coop meetings held in our studio, Turning Heads will provide sewing classes and business instruction at five San Francisco high schools, and will serve over 70 young women.