SACRAMENTO – Last week, Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) presented in the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services to request a $12 million one-time appropriation to support the Youth and Family Civic Engagement Initiative, a collaborative statewide project of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center serving low-income youth and families in the Central Valley and all across California.
Wednesday was the inaugural Dolores Huerta Day in California, established by Assembly Bill 2644 (2018), honoring the accomplishments and contributions of the civil rights icon and labor leader.
“The young students and families that are served by the Youth and Family Civic Engagement Initiative are empowered in learning how to work to make a real difference in our communities,” Salas said. “Supporting and inspiring our youth in underrepresented areas to engage in a meaningful way at the local, state and national level will create future leaders and form the foundation for our next generation.”
The Youth and Family Civic Engagement Initiative increases civic participation among low-income, disenfranchised youth and their families in targeted regions throughout the state, thereby reducing civic engagement disparities and strengthening democratic institutions.
The Initiative emphasizes the role of local leadership through the active promotion of regional leadership exchanges, culturally informed civic campaigns, community problem solving, improving infrastructure and classes teaching values and ethics essential to civility and community progress.
“Giving students a voice and an opportunity to engage allows them to grow into community leaders,” said Camila Chavez, executive director of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. “The Youth and Family Civic Engage Initiative provides students who might otherwise feel ignored, left behind or forgotten the chance to learn about government and develop the confidence, skills and encouragement that helps them become engaged, proactive members of their community.”
Funding for the Initiative would support the following:
- SUSTAINABILITY: Sustainability in staff training, regional infrastructure, and capacity to facilitate youth and family leadership and community impact.
- YOUTH LEADERSHIP: Cultivate strong youth cohorts of engaged, peer leadership coaches insuring statewide presence of a minimum of 400 young people in year one and 600 in years two and three.
- FAMILIES: 2,500 students and their family members participate in meaningful civic engagement, public speaking and cultural leadership programming throughout the state.
- CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: A minimum of three joint statewide projects and 50 civic engagement projects to be carried out addressing local issues, including health, education, climate, water, equity in employment and education and community policing.
- EXPANSION: Expansion of the Initiative throughout the state with direct service in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Tulare and Yolo.
- STATEWIDE: Cohort of youth leaders will present classes, seminars and key note speeches at 150 statewide and regional events, increasing in quantity each year, reaching 15,000 students and 200,000 community members throughout California every year.
- YOUTH EMPLOYMENT: Leadership pathway for young people to secure internships and employment opportunities in the public and private sectors.