Yet the so-called separation of church and state has led the majority of church leaders to incorrectly conclude that they have no business setting foot on a public school campus.

Meanwhile, Gen Z, our nation’s elementary, middle, and high school students, has grown into the largest generation in US history – becoming one-third of the US population in 2020. Perhaps more noteworthy than its size, however, is Gen Z’s unchurched identity. More than any other generation in US history, Gen Z kids do not believe that a relationship with Jesus or church participation warrants attention. “The pattern is indisputable,” states George Barna, “the younger the generation, the more post-Christian it is.”

A historic opportunity is at hand. Rev. Dr. Landis and UYC’s team of local church practitioners have spent the last twelve years discovering, developing, and perfecting strategies that local churches can use daily to engage the fifty million students in America’s public schools. UYC feels a duty and obligation to share these real-world strategies that can directly equip churches to reach a hurting and unchurched generation.

Approximately 80-90% of San Diego’s public middle and high school students have no regular or meaningful connection to the church. According to national research, the story is the same in other cities and towns throughout the US. A generation that Jesus loves and died for is literally being lost on our shift. As The Great Opportunity report commissioned by the Pinetops Foundation documents, one million youth are leaving the church every year.

If Gen Z kids who have already heard the gospel are walking away, how can Christianity be made relevant to those who have never heard or received the good news of Christ?

We believe the solution lies in teaching the church to take the gospel to where kids are: public schools down the street. Current trends do not need to continue. When congregations learn that they can engage Gen Z on their own turf and on their terms, teenagers discover their hunger to be loved and transformed in ways that only Jesus can accomplish.

The church has spent decades waiting for people to come to them; UYC exists to empower courageous congregations and student leaders to go where the kids are. We’ve been doing this successfully for twelve years in three cities and two countries. We sense God calling us to share all available strategies with churches so they can answer Christ’s call to reach Gen Z, disciple them as life-long Christ-followers, connect them to local churches, and mobilize them as kingdom change agents who transform their families, neighborhoods, and world.

Jesus said that if we follow him, he’ll make us into fishers of men and women (Matthew 4:19). Our message to churches is that fish always travel in schools! UYC wants to equip churches to effectively go where the fish are.

Whether they realize it or not, Gen Z is searching for a moral compass, positive role models, meaningful community, an understanding of their true purpose, eternal salvation, and the hope of forgiveness through Christ. High instances of poverty, violent communities, broken families, drug/alcohol abuse, and despair threaten the God-given dreams of many young people. Spiritually, academically, and socially speaking, significant numbers of youth in our region grow up ill-equipped for this life or the next.

We believe a relationship with Jesus and the Christian community is the key to living life to the fullest, both in heaven and here on earth.


Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC) is a coalition of over 135 church partners that support student-led faith clubs and motivational assemblies at over 100 middle and high school campuses in San Diego County and in Mexico. In San Diego, students serve physical and spiritual food to 3,500 of their friends each week and look for practical ways to make a difference in their local communities. Last year, young leaders generated over 34,000 hours of voluntary community service in Southern California and around the globe!
We empower student leaders to share the love of Jesus in practical ways in America’s schools and neighborhoods.

VISION: We believe in the limitless potential and irreplaceable value of every young person and want to see them achieve their full God-given potential. We dream of a day when young leaders across America will gather in student-led campus clubs to live out their dreams of a better future for their friends, families, and communities.
Programs Include:
  • Student-led Campus Clubs
  • Late Lunch Learning Labs (for Church, Student, and Campus Leaders)
  • Project 25
  • Motivational School Assemblies
  • Summer Camps (such as FCA Camp at UCLA)
  • UYC Discipleship
  • School Beautification Day
  • Sports Chaplaincy for School Teams
  • The UYC Show (Podcast)
  • Online Training
  • Coaching/Consulting (individual leaders/groups)