Social Connectedness / 2013

LA2050 Youth 4C Leaders

LA2050 Youth 4C Leaders

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Keely Hopkins & Associates

Only 7% of Los Angelenos have reported contacting a public official. 37% of Los Angelenos don’t even discuss politics at all. Even more troubling, is that not even 1 out of 12 citizens with less than a high school education will vote in a Presidential election. With voter turnout correlated to education levels, Los Angeles is losing the voice of an entire segment of people.

LA2050 Youth 4C will remove barriers that prevent civic engagement by going directly into alternative education charter schools in underserved communities to train students as grassroots leaders and advocates for community change. Over 70 students from 7 different areas in Los Angeles will be given the training and tools needed to effectively engage their peers and parents to have a voice in policy by leading campaigns in their own schools and communities. The LA2050 Youth 4C Leaders will mobilize thousands of individuals to participate in civic engagement, and for many, provide them their first experience in politics.

The LA2050 Youth 4C Initiative brings forward a new uprising of young leaders to encourage civic engagement today and help change the culture of participation for the future. The LA2050 Youth 4C Initiative is a 6-month training program that is comprised of 5 components: 1) the development and implementation of a mini-campaign at each of the seven schools; 2) production of a LA2050 Youth 4C YouTube channel that documents and share the videos of hundreds of youth discussing the issues they face; 3) a collaboration of the Youth 4C Leaders to plan and host a Back to School Conference for 2000 area students, 4) educate and engage parents at Open House sessions, and 5) leading a LA2050 Youth 4C Advocacy Day at City Hall.

Youth 4C will partner with alternative charter schools to identify and recruit 7-10 student leaders from each of the following areas: Compton, Huntington Park, Watts, Culver City, East LA, Hoover, & Hawthorne. Each group of student leaders will work as a team to develop and implement a mini-campaign at their school that focuses on one policy issue that affects their lives as students. Topics can include but are not limited to gang violence, teen pregnancy, foster care, substance abuse, access to resources, or bullying. All students will come together for monthly trainings in leadership, community organizing, and advocacy, as well as to provide a forum for discussion and support for each other’s campaigns.

After months of planning, Youth 4C Leaders will introduce their campaign at a Back to School Conference of 2000 area students. Each Youth 4C Leadership team will present their campaign to the entire conference. Each leadership team will also have a booth at the conference, allowing students to talk one on one about the issue, share campaign messages, and have supporters sign their petitions. Over the next two months, each student leadership group will embark on a community campaign at their school to gain support, have petitions signed, and to create Video Voice Mapping footage. Video Voice Mapping (VVM) is a new advocacy tool where students record themselves performing self-interviews that discusses where there are, an environmental or policy issue that is affecting them, and what they would like done about it. All videos will be placed on a newly created LA2050 Youth 4C YouTube channel that can be promoted throughout Los Angeles. Each Youth 4C Leader will perform their own VVM Interview and be responsible for interviewing 5 other students or community members. Students will also engage parents at Open House sessions, where parents will be invited to sign petitions and participate in video interviews.

As a capstone of the campaign, the student leaders will plan and host a LA2050 Youth 4C Advocacy Day at City Hall. Student leaders, friends, family members, and community supporters will come together on the steps of City Hall to show support for the future of social connectedness and civic engagement in LA. The student groups will announce the success of their project, the number of petitions that were signed, and show some of their favorite and most powerful VVM interviews. After the press conference, students will meet one on one will government officials to share their campaign.

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

Youth 4C is a new project launched in 2013 by two young Los Angeles entrepreneurs. Having both grown up outside of Los Angeles, both Keely Hopkins and Samuel Alleyne noticed the lack of social connectedness and civic engagement among youth in L.A. , particularly among underserved communities. As a response to this, Keely Hopkins and Samuel Alleyne launched Youth 4C, a new initiative aimed at increasing leadership, advocacy, and volunteerism among youth. Instead of just focusing on preparing youth as the next generation of leaders, Youth 4C recognizes youth as the leaders of today that are capable of advocating and organizing for change in their communities.

Youth 4C is a dynamic and rapidly growing initiative that already has two projects underway in the first few months of launching. Youth 4C has developed an entrepreneur curriculum for children aged 7-15 that will be implemented this summer at Los Angeles City College. Youth 4C has also partnered with the College of the Bahamas to develop and lead an international youth summit that will bring together youth from urban and rural areas to tackle top issues affecting their futures.

Prior to launching Youth 4C, Keely Hopkins and Samuel Alleyne both came from non-profit and government relations backgrounds. Keely Hopkins, a government relations attorney and development specialist, has led statewide political campaigns, advocated on behalf of non-profits before state legislatures, and has led youth advocacy trainings in South Los Angeles. Samuel Alleyne, who specializes in project management and development strategy, comes from an extensive background in youth leadership and engagement. Samuel has served as a project coordinator the California Department of Public Health, has organized and led international youth campaigns, and has taught youth leadership and entrepreneurial classes at CSU and LACC.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

The LA2050 Youth 4C Initiative will be partnering with 7 alternative education charter schools located in Compton, Watts, Huntington Park, Culver City, Hawthorne, East LA and Hoover.

The LA2050 Youth 4C Initiative will also collaborate with elected officials, government offices, and community leaders in the aforementioned areas to gain support for the youth campaigns and to assist in planning the LA2050 Youth 4C Advocacy Summit at City Hall.

Educators, motivational speakers, and media personalities will also be brought in for the monthly leadership trainings and Back to School Conference.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

The LA2050 Youth4C Initiative will be evaluated by the number of student leaders trained, the total number of individuals engaged by the campaigns, and the quality of the program.

Youth 4C Program Directors will be responsible for collecting data and maintaining a matrix that tracks each student leader’s monthly participation in leadership trainings and all scheduled activities. The Program Directors will also be responsible for collecting data from student leaders on a monthly basis that tracks the number of petitions signed and VVM interviews conducted. This information will be analyzed by the Program Directors to ensure the outreach numbers are being met and students are on track to reach goal numbers for petition signatures and video interviews.

The quality of the program will be evaluated throughout student surveys issued at the start and end of the program, as well as by monthly interviews with educator liaisons from each school. The student surveys will include questions regarding knowledge of the political process, experience in civic engagement and community organizing, and comfort levels of expressing their voice on policy issues. The monthly interviews with educator liaisons from each school will discuss the awareness levels for the campaigns, the excitement generated by the student leaders, the response of parents at the Open House, and student attitudes towards political involvement. The Program Directors will compile the survey and interview results to determine impact and success of the program.

Using both quantitative and qualitative information, monthly summative reports will be prepared by the Program Directors and examined. Based on the results of the report, the Program Directors will adjust the program operationally as well as implement strategies to strengthen the program.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

By focusing on students in alternative education high schools, Youth 4C will intercept a segment of society that is on track to become inactive participants of democracy. Students in alternative schools regularly enroll in these charter schools after struggling in a traditional school setting, and are up against the high dropout rate that faces students in underserved communities. Often from backgrounds that include poverty, incarcerated parents, and gang violence, these students are most at risk to become part of the statistic that only one out of every twelve individuals with less than a high school education will vote in a Presidential election.

The LA2050 Youth 4C Initiative pushes education levels aside and brings forward 70-100 grassroots leaders to pave the path for their community to have an active future in social and civic engagement. Barriers and misconceptions about politics and advocacy will be broken down by illustrating that small steps, such as signing a petition or being involved in a student group, can make a difference in your community and your city. At the end of the project, the LA2050 Youth 4C Initiative will have impacted thousands of students and parents in communities with low voter turnout, low levels of civic participation, and low levels of political discussion.

The Youth 4C Initiative aims to have the following impact on Los Angeles: 1) 70-100 youth grassroots leaders from underserved communities trained, 2) 2000 students engaged in an issue advocacy campaign, 3) 1000 parents engaged in an issue advocacy campaign, 4) 500 students and communities members at Youth Advocacy Summit to show Los Angeles there is a future for social connectedness, and 5) a new mindset in these communities that anyone can take action and get involved.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

Success in 2050 will look like a new generation of leaders that have changed the culture around civic engagement and social connectedness. The youth of today will have grown up as active citizens that are not afraid to voice their opinion, contact public officials, or participate in voting. Along the way, the youth of today will have encouraged those around them to be more involved- in their schools, in their communities, and then in their workplace. In 2050, the youth of today will be raising the next generation of active citizens and imparting to them the new culture of participation.