youth-in-action.

President’s Youth Council

Robert K. Ross, M.D., President and CEO of The California Endowment formed the President’s Youth Council as a genuine effort to integrate youth input and decision making into The Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities campaign. The President’s Youth Council is a statewide, intergenerational body of youth and seasoned youth workers that provide thought leadership, youth perspective and candid feedback on The California Endowment’s campaign and strategies in the pursuit of Health and Justice across California.

The California Endowment values the energy, agility, and fearlessness of youth leadership and youth organizing in its many forms including local, statewide and online community building, and lifting the voices of those traditionally excluded from public conversations to create opportunities for their stories to be told and heard. Building Healthy Communities is driven by a vision of what constitutes a healthy community: one in which youth and adults thrive and all community members have the opportunities, supports and resources to develop their full potential, thus achieving greater health equity for marginalized Californians, especially those who have experienced disadvantage or historical injustice.

Through Building Healthy Communities, young people have stepped up to lead the fight for healthier schools, neighborhoods, and smarter health systems. PYC Ambassadors for Youth are lead thought partners in redefining wellness for California’s youth and providing youth perspective on expanding leadership roles for youth in advancing health equity and health justice campaigns to strengthen youth voice and leadership across communities, at a statewide level and nationally. We invite PYC Members, as Ambassadors for Youth, to help us realize an inclusive California with Health Equity and Health Justice for All.


PRESIDENT’S YOUTH COUNCIL

EFRAIN BOTELLO

Efrain Botello is a youth leader that was born and raised in Fresno, CA. He is now working as an Outreach Worker at Fresno Barrios Unidos, a community benefits organization that empowers youth and families through education, wellness, and advocacy. Some of his responsibilities at Fresno Barrios Unidos have included conducting outreach to many community members throughout Fresno and helping support the El Joven Noble rites of passage program. Through working with Fresno Barrios Unidos, Efrain has also been heavily involved with the Fresno Boys and Men of Color initiative where he has advocated for the improvement of his beloved communities health. Some of the many issues Efrain has advocated for have included bringing safe parks to his community, creating healthy relationships between the Fresno Police Department and youth across Fresno, and making sure everyone feels safe in schools by making Fresno Unified School District a sanctuary for all. Efrain is now studying Sociology at Fresno City College and will soon transfer to CSU Fresno to finish his education. After graduating, Efrain dreams of serving as a mentor and counselor for youth in his community. He wants to leave a positive impact on young people’s lives so they can be able to reach their full potential. On his free time, Efrain loves anything that will keep him active. Some of his favorite hobbies include playing soccer, weightlifting, listening to music, and hanging out with his loved ones.

 

CHRISTOPHER COVINGTON

A proud product of Long Beach, California, Christopher Covington has dedicated his life to a future where all who have historically been marginalized, made invisible, and unheard are uplifted and empowered to challenge and deconstruct the systems of oppression. He is a multiracial, queer person of color with many identities and lived experiences that deeply connects him to intersectional movements and spaces. Growing up working class he was determined that he would not be boxed in by the limitations others placed on him. His dedication and determination to advancing issues led him to organize with his community in the fight for social justice. Their work produced major local and national policy, systems and cultures shifts in the fields of labor, education, LGBTQ+ and health. He is the Southern California Local Community Organizer for the Genders and Sexualities Alliance Network empowering trans and queer youth to unite for racial and gender justice. In his free time, he enjoys caring for his dog Leo and houseplants, engaging in wellness practices and making memories with friends and loved ones.

 

ALICIA DE LEON MENDOZA

Hello! I am Alicia De Leon Mendoza, a full-time student at Oregon State University and an ambassador for youth through the President’s Youth Council. God willing I plan to graduate with two degrees at the end of 2017, a B.S. in Finance and a B.S. in Marketing.

Before the PYC I was heavily involved with student and community groups in my hometown of Crescent City, CA located on the coast just south of the Oregon border. Growing up I mostly kept to myself but that changed during my sophomore year of high school. At this time I joined the DNHS Drill Team, C.H.A.N.G.E. Club, Interact Club and many other extracurriculars. This was also the year that my involvement with The California Endowment would commence. I can proudly say I was on my local stakeholder committee for the Building Healthy Communities Initiative in during its beginnings.

I remained involved when I moved to Corvallis to further pursue my education. At Oregon State I became the only female on the Oregon State’s Investment Group for a year and was also initiated as a member of the Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity of which I later became my chapters president. My plan for after graduation is still in the works. Currently I am trying to find the career that perfectly aligns with my passions for music and helping others with my finance and marketing expertise. I would like to achieve CFA certification and make my mark in the finance and underrepresented communities.

Though leisure time is often hard to find, one’s wellness is crucial to excelling in every other aspect of life. I enjoy time spent with loved ones, cooking, singing, dancing and simply exploring what this world has to offer through hiking, eating and travelling. Before deciding to obtain my degrees in Finance and Marketing from Oregon state, I was seriously considering culinary school instead. Good food and good music with the people I love is my equation for happiness. I also very much love pandas, so it’s safe one of my dream jobs would be to become a panda nanny.

 

NILE HAYNES-IRBY

Nile Haynes-Irby is a full time student at Los Angeles Trade Tech College.  He studies Engineering with a focus on the Mechanical side. He enjoys building objects that affect the human emotion. Before PYC, Nile served on a South Los Angeles Youth Council. The council helped Nile build leadership and awareness of issues in the community. Peace Over Violence was another organization he participated in that helped prevent domestic violence through Art. Nile also has worked with Brotherhood Crusade in building young men to strive for success. Other work include designing a youth survey across California to gather ideas of what youth think of their community. Recently, he has been a Grant Advisor for The Pollination Project helping fund youth grants. Nile graduated from View Park High School. He is pursuing to get his degree from George Fox University. He has two years left to complete his Major. After receiving his degree he plans on building his own engineering company. Nile loves to go swimming and play video games. Fun Fact about Nile is he drank a FIJI water bottle in FIJI. He continues to support his family and community.         

 

BINTI MUSA

My name is Binti Musa, I am a student at Grossmont College hoping to transfer to University of Las Vegas Nevada majoring in Sociology. I was born in Somali came untied states on march 12 2004 at the age of nine. I have been living in San Diego ever since. Before PYC I was a full time student and working. I am also been involved with many community groups: City Heights Youth For change, Parent student resident organization, food justice momentum team, Somali Bantu association, say San Diego, and and sisterhood circle.  

I am interested in doing community organizing with my degree. I love giving back to my community and working with my community.

Whenever I am out I am also at a community meeting and listen for my community needs and how I can better assist them.

I love being out doors and trying something different I personally love hiking.

 This year I will be able to finish my last year at grossmont college with two associates degrees one in Sociology and one in Social work.

I am really looking forward to see changes in my community. With the opportunity with the PYC I will be able to share my work and even learn different ways to get even more things done for my community.

DEAN WILLIVER

Dean Welliver is an LGBTQ Equality Organizer for the Dolores Huerta Foundation. As an Equality Organizer he mobilizes LGBTQ youth and adults to advocate for policies and services to address health inequities and school climate affecting the LGBTQ community in Kern County. As a facilitator of the Teens 4 Equality program, he focuses on building the leadership of other youth leaders, providing recreational opportunities, and advocating together for more inclusive school climates, family acceptance, and spreading awareness in our community about LGBTQ identities and people. Additionally, Dean is a youth journalist for South Kern Sol and has been writing articles relating to community health, with a focus on education and LGBTQ communities, since early 2014.

Dean has been involved in LGBT advocacy and organizing since he was sixteen. In high school he was a Youth Trainer with GSA Network of Southern California, training groups of LGBTQ and allied youth about LGBTQ topics and rights in schools all over Southern California. At home in Bakersfield, Dean was a regular volunteer for the Gay and Lesbian Center of Bakersfield and worked as a canvasser and phone banker for the Dolores Huerta Foundation before being hired on as an Organizer.

Dean is currently a student at Bakersfield Community College and is studying sociology. After he finishes at Bakersfield College he hopes to transfer to UC Berkeley or UCLA to finish his degree. In the future, Dean hopes to continue doing community organizing and use his degree to conduct research studies aimed at assessing the needs of marginalized communities.

In his free Dean enjoys spending time with his dogs, hanging out with friends and family, and reading. 

 


PYC ALUMNI

BRANDON HARRISON

 

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Until recently I did not care much about voting.

I was never fond of politics or the government, because I was under the impression that my vote didn’t matter. My grandfather used to tell me conspiracy theories about how every election was rigged. I refused to be part of a corrupt system.

But then I met someone who changed my thinking.

In May, We’Ced and Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Merced hosted #GetLoud Youth, a mock election event aimed at teaching local youth about civic engagement. There were about 65 young people who attended. The atmosphere was energetic.

We were informed about how voting works, and also got to learn about candidates running for City Council and County Supervisor seats here in Merced. People in the crowd expressed why this year’s election matters to them and how they plan to make a difference. There was even a voter registration table, because a lot of youth don’t know they can register to vote at the age of 16.

At the event, I was inspired by the words of my lovely mentor, boss and role model, Claudia Gonzalez. I listened as she recounted her personal story and became emotional. She lost her right to vote because of mistakes she made in the past. This year she will be eligible to vote for the first time in her life. Having been on community supervision for many years, she finally discharged.

Claudia said we should not take our right to vote for granted, and that we needed to vote for people like her and thousands of others who want to vote, but have been stripped of this right. Many in the undocumented community, for example, can’t voice their opinion on matters that will directly impact their lives here. They are relying on us.

I thought of all the voiceless people who were counting on me to exercise my right. Then and there, I decided to register to vote.

At the age of twenty-one, I will vote for the first time in my life in November.

I now understand that together we can make a difference, because contrary to what you hear, every vote does matter in this upcoming election.

I found the motivation I needed to be civically engaged. Just look around you and you will too.

It’s time to vote. Wake up and get loud.

—-

Article originally published @ http://www.wecedyouth.org/2016/06/embracing-my-voting-power/

When we embarked on the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) campaign five years ago, we pledged to enhance the participation and engagement of young people from underserved communities in the work that we do, drawing on their leadership to drive change.  Now that we are approaching the mid-point of our ten-year plan, I feel comfortable offering some observations about our progress on this front, and the value we have experienced in our work.

Our commitment to enhanced youth leadership has principally taken shape in three forms: 1) holding ourselves accountable to youth participation statewide, in many of our 14 BHC sites; 2) establishing staff and budgetary support for youth engagement in the “DNA” of our foundation; and 3) implementing the new idea of a President’s Youth Council.

A fourth, critically-related effort was to enhance the visibility and accessibility of our social media platform, which is central to any commitment to engage young people.

Here’s the CEO’s perspective on the efforts at the mid-point of our 10-year BHC campaign:

Youth Engagement & Organizing.  Along the course of our BHC work, we’ve done a few things well and a few things right, and a couple of things not-so-well – we learn along the way.  One of the “right” things we did was to insist on youth participation in each of the 14 BHC sites and our statewide policy work, and we deemed that important enough to measure.  In this way, our program staff, local BHC partners, and program evaluators all knew up front: we expect and will see the leadership of young people engaged and supported.  As President, along with our Board, we receive an annual report that includes the quantity and quality of young people involved with local BHC planning and advocacy.  Strategically, it was meaningful youth engagement that resulted in the very successful campaigns we have supported on issues of 1) school discipline reform and reducing school suspensions statewide, 2) our Sons & Brothers (Boys & Young Men of Color) work, and 3) health coverage for undocumented families (the #Health4All campaign).  We have seen statewide policy- and systems-change victories on all three fronts, and in each and every case young people were visibly engaged leaders and advocates in the changes.  We have supported the activism and advocacy of young people as they reach the halls of the state Capitol in Sacramento, where hundreds of young leaders influence state policy change during Advocacy Week.

Budget & Staffing.  Prior to the implementation of BHC, we were more effective at providing lip service about youth engagement than real and meaningful commitment towards it.  Over the past two years, for the first time, we established both a youth engagement staff position, as well as a line item in the organizational budget to support it.  Admittedly, the staffing and budget support is relatively modest from the standpoint of scale – but we recognized (nudged by young people themselves) that unless youth engagement lived and breathed as a budgetary item, we could not live up to our stated pledge and commitment.  So now, it’s in the budget.

The President’s Youth Council.  As the BHC campaign unfolded, I wanted to consider options for institutionalizing the advice and experiential wisdom of young people from our BHC sites.  We considered the option of adding a youth representative or two to our Board of Directors, but my experience with the solitary “youth representative” on a board or commission of adult representatives has been mixed: the young person is hopelessly outnumbered, they are forced to play by “adult” professional rules, and it is a tremendous amount to expect an adolescent/young adult to carry the voice of hundreds or thousands of young people in a boardroom or commission experience dominated by adults.

So we decided to create a President’s Youth Council, or PYC.  We embarked on a process to identify and invite one young leader from each of the 14 sites, and provide them with organized “face time” with me at least a couple times per year.  We are now in the third year of this “experiment” and I have learned a great deal about how to effectively support youth civic engagement, leadership and advocacy in the battle for health and justice in low-income, ignored communities.  Among the most salient lessons: the roles that matters of adversity, trauma, and stress play in the lives of young people of color, and how we must endeavor to strengthen social-emotional health and wellness approaches to truly build healthy communities across California.  At present, my staff are examining the design of a Youth Wellness Initiative proposed by the PYC, intended to strengthen the narrative of “wellness” and health for young people of color in California.

Social Media.  The matter of social media remains an area of growth and development for us, but as compared to five years ago, we now boast one of the most robust social media engagement platforms of any foundation in the country.  Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, video/digital content, and Google Hangouts are now all “standard operating procedure” at TCE, and we have staff (under the age of 40, of course), grantee partners, and youth leaders themselves all frenetically engaged in advancing the message of health justice.  Our social media reach now numbers more than 100,000 strong and growing.

The building of heathy communities requires energy, creativity, passion, and the will to fight.  Our Board of Directors and staff are thrilled with the value these young people have brought to our work.  I am well pleased with these developments, except for one nagging question: what took me so long to figure this out?

Dr. Bob Ross

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Health happens in communities.

Many people living in low-income communities in the United States are mired in a constant and unremitting fog of stress. This chronic stress is driven by housing insecurity, food insecurity, fear of crime, unemployment, exposure to pollution, and poor education. These things lead to poor community health and are often collectively conceptualized as social determinants of health.

The good news is that this situation is largely manmade and thus can be unmade. Our initiative, Building Healthy Communities (BHC), is a holistic attempt to help reweave the fraying fabric of low-income communities by harnessing the latent power and potential of their residents. Launched in 2010, it is a 10-year, $1 billion, place-based initiative that aims to transform 14 communities by building power (social, political, and economic), implementing proven health-protective policy, and changing the narrative about what produces health (beyond health insurance and individual behavior). BHC’s strategy is grounded in the belief that health is fundamentally political. The idea is to revitalize local democracy to transform these environments into places where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

The BHC model envisions these communities as proving grounds for community-driven policy and practice innovations that, in turn, advance statewide policy and systems change. It creates unprecedented space for community organizing, leadership development, and sustained multi-sector collaboration by enabling residents, community groups, and institutional leaders to work together across all sorts of boundaries, including different races and ethnicities, personal experiences, legacies of discriminatory treatment, and differential levels of power.

Click here to continue reading this article in its entirety on the Stanford Social Innovation Review website.

Robert K. Ross, M.D., President and CEO of The California Endowment formed the President’s Youth Council as a genuine effort to integrate youth input and decision making into The Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities campaign. The President’s Youth Council is a statewide, intergenerational body of youth and seasoned youth workers that provide thought leadership, youth perspective and candid feedback on The California Endowment’s campaign and strategies in the pursuit of Health and Justice across California.

The California Endowment values the energy, agility, and fearlessness of youth leadership and youth organizing in its many forms including local, statewide and online community building, and lifting the voices of those traditionally excluded from public conversations to create opportunities for their stories to be told and heard. Building Healthy Communities is driven by a vision of what constitutes a healthy community: one in which youth and adults thrive and all community members have the opportunities, supports and resources to develop their full potential, thus achieving greater health equity for marginalized Californians, especially those who have experienced disadvantage or historical injustice.

Through Building Healthy Communities, young people have stepped up to lead the fight for healthier schools, neighborhoods, and smarter health systems. PYC Ambassadors for Youth are lead thought partners in redefining wellness for California’s youth and providing youth perspective on expanding leadership roles for youth in advancing health equity and health justice campaigns to strengthen youth voice and leadership across communities, at a statewide level and nationally. We invite PYC Members, as Ambassadors for Youth, to help us realize an inclusive California with Health Equity and Health Justice for All.

For me, summer was a time to goof off, but the youth in our 14 Building Healthy Communities (BHC) sites have something else on their mind, in addition to having some fun.

They are on a quest to be better leaders to improve their communities. I am so pleased to announce our first-ever young women’s retreat going on this week at the same time as our 3rd Annual Sons & Brothers summer camp.

As a father of a daughter, I am happy to say that, today, women are no longer bound by past stereotypes and expectations. They are doctors, lawyers, judges and CEOs. They have the power to write their own narratives, and in doing so, they are making the world a better place.

From July 23-27, close to fifty young women will participate in the inaugural Sisterhood Rising Leadership Retreat on the campus of UC Santa Barbara. These young women will have the opportunity to relax, refresh, and bond, while participating in retreat activities designed to accomplish the following goals:
•    Developing a foundation for women to be lifelong leaders for health equity in California.
•    Building sisterhood and healthy relationships across our BHC sites.
•    Taking time for personal well-being and healing to promote social-emotional health.
•    Empowering young women around their narrative using a gender and racial justice lens.
•    Fun!

Across the 14 BHC sites, young women and female Youth Organizers have been leading campaigns to improve their schools and neighborhoods for both themselves and the boys and young men in their communities. This inaugural Sisterhood Rising Leadership Retreat will help these young women to continue to grow as leaders through activities that will help them dream about what they can accomplish for themselves and all women, while flexing their leadership muscle. They’ll be learning about the intersections between gender and race, deconstructing beauty and body image ideals, examining trauma and its impact on their lives and communities, as well as discussing a number of other topics relevant to the development of their critical consciousness as young women leaders.

They’ll also have fun which is incredibly important to a healthy mind, body and spirit. They’ll tackle rope courses, rock climbing, paddle boarding, and all kinds of challenging physical activities. And they’ll be able to develop lasting friendships with young women leaders from across the state. All of these activities will help boost their self-confidence and create stronger bonds, which will make them better leaders.

But none of this would have happened had it not been for three staff who took the lead on this endeavor. I offer my special thanks to Program Managers Margarita Luna and Jennifer Chheang, and Program Associate Christie Cardenas. Their seemingly boundless energy and bright spirits will surely result in a healing and rejuvenating retreat for these incredible young women leaders.