As a program manager who supports youth development organizations and youth leaders, I’m excited about a recent victory in Los Angeles – the establishment of a Youth Development Task Force. This win was a long time coming, and now the work to create a comprehensive youth development strategy for the City begins.
Los Angeles needs to invest in and provide opportunities for its youth and that’s why the development of a Youth Task Force is so important. Research shows that Los Angeles is home to over 800,000 young people between the ages of 12-24. More than 200,000 of these youth are living in poverty, 68,000 are considered disconnected from school and employment, and over 3,000 find themselves struggling with homelessness. These are statistics that are unacceptable in any city, including one as large as Los Angeles.
For the last nine years, as the Program Manager for Building Healthy Communities Boyle Heights, I have worked hard to support projects that would change the odds for all young people. The decision in Los Angeles was important, but it didn’t happen overnight. It was the hard and tireless work of several organizations, youth and adult leaders, and community partners who elevated the needs of young people. The commitment and vision of organizations like Legacy LA, Advancement Project, Self-Help Graphics & Art, Big Citizen Hub and LA Voice, and the persistence of youth and community advocates, helped make this victory happen.
The youth of Los Angeles have always made the future of our community bright, and now, with an intentional focus on developing a comprehensive youth development system, the future for youth in LA shines even brighter. It’s what a Healthy Community is all about – everyone thriving together.