Advocacy | CJ Callen, CEO
In her latest contribution to CompassPoint's Compass Points of View blog, YLI CEO CJ Callen shares more insights from her work leading the organization through a strategic shift. Titled "Find Your Tribe: The 'Who' of Leading Change", the piece discusses cultivating a community of allies to support leadership work and suggests reading on nonprofit leadership. Read the full piece here.
-- posted at Monday March 04, 2013 9:09 am PST --
This week the Youth Leadership Institute releases a report titled Safe and Healthy School Environments for All Youth (PDF). The report lays out findings and recommendations from a youth-led survey studying the personal and emotional safety risks, discriminatory conditions, and policy gaps that impact lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in Marin County public schools.
The Marin School Climate Survey found disproportionate numbers of LGBTQ youth at Marin County schools were vulnerable to harassment based on their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Most (82%) LGBTQ respondents agreed that students use homophobic language more frequently than any other negative language at school. When students were asked if their sexual orientation affects how safe they feel at school, 37% of LGBTQQ identified students said it does, while 4% of heterosexual students said it does. In addition, 42% of LGBTQ respondents reported that nothing would be done if they sought help from an adult about harassment at school, while 27% of heterosexual students responded similarly.
In light of these concerning findings, the report recommends a variety of steps to increase student safety and improve the climate at Marin schools. The report's recommendations for Marin schools include:
- Adopt uniform policies with respect to bullying and harassment, non-discrimination, and sexual health education
- Specifically identify protected categories including race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, or the perception that a student fits one of these categories
- Make cyber-bullying a stand-alone policy that includes off-campus conduct when it threatens the school environment
The survey was developed and analyzed by the young leaders of the Marin County Youth Commission, an advisory body to the Marin County Board of Supervisors. The youth were supported by staff at YLI, the Spectrum LGBT Center, and the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University. Part of a multi-year initiative funded by the Marin Community Foundation, the survey was administered to over 3,000 students at five public high schools, making this the largest youth-led student survey in Marin County to date.
Based on the findings from this survey, MCYC is next going to advocate for policy changes at local school districts to ensure students are better protected from harassment based on perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The youth leaders see such policy changes as important steps towards creating healthy, safe, and inclusive school environments for all youth.
-- posted at Friday October 05, 2012 3:21 pm PDT --
This week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1310, legislation that Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) introduced at the urging of young leaders from the Youth Leadership Institute (YLI). The new law requires the state to suspend and revoke a store's license if the retailer is repeatedly convicted of selling tobacco products to minors. Under the new law, if a retailer is convicted three times in a five-year-window, its license will be suspended for 45 days. Five convictions in a five-year-window will result in license revocation.
Assemblyman Hill developed the bill after meeting with young leaders from the Youth Leadership Institute in 2011. The youth presented Hill with the findings of their research on underage tobacco use and access in San Mateo County, and the challenges they saw in holding retailers accountable for underage tobacco sales.
More than just a victory on the tobacco control front, the enactment of this law also represents a big victory in youth-led policy making and community change. “[This is] the first state level piece of legislation in my time with YLI that we as an organization have introduced and passed with youth at the helm every step of the way,” said Katrina Socco, YLI’s Senior Director of Community-Based Programs in San Mateo County.
For the current generation of youth, this new law is a valuable protection against becoming a new generation of smokers. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), almost 90 percent of adults who are regular smokers started at or before age 19. A 2009 CDCP survey found that more than one out of four high school students were current tobacco users. Smoking-related diseases remain the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, claiming the lives of 438,000 Americans annually.
Congratulations to the YLI youth leaders in San Mateo County and a big thank you to Assemblyman Hill and all who stepped forward in support of this new law!
-- posted at Tuesday September 18, 2012 8:59 am PDT --
On Friday, Youth Leadership Institute launched the Healthy Neighborhood Stores Network/Las Tienditas Saludables with a tour of three recently renovated corner stores in the North Fair Oaks Neighborhood of unincorporated San Mateo County. The tour showcased the results of a youth-led makeover, aimed at promoting healthy food choices by adding more fresh produce on the shelves, removing alcohol ads, and other improvements.
Several of the young leaders who implemented the makeovers were on hand for Friday’s tour, including Luis Ortiz. Having grown up in North Fair Oaks, Ortiz cited his desire for “being able to buy fresh produce in my own neighborhood” as a key motivator in leading this change.
The store makeovers are made possible by a two-year, $150,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente to the Redwood City 2020 neighborhood collaboration. Youth Leadership Institute is a key partner in this effort, along with Get Healthy San Mateo County, the San Mateo County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Redwood City/North Fair Oaks Prevention Partnership, the County of San Mateo, and the California Friday Night Live Partnership.
Learn more in press coverage of the event in the San Jose Mercury News, San Mateo Daily Journal, and Redwood City Patch. Also, keep up to date as the Healthy Neighborhood Stores Network/Las Tienditas Saludables continues to grow by visiting their blog: www.ylitienditas.blogspot.com.
-- posted at Tuesday July 31, 2012 2:31 pm PDT --
More than 6.7 million youth in the U.S. are disconnected from school and employment. These “opportunity youth” represent a huge untapped resource for our communities and our nation. YLI is partnering with the White House Council for Community Solutions and other national organizations to forge new paths to education and employment for these youth.
On June 4, the Council hosted the White House Youth Summit on Disconnected Youth in Washington DC. YLI brought eleven youth to participate in this event. These youth are members of the YLI Youth Ambassadors, a leadership body YLI convened earlier this year to represent and advocate for youth on the national stage. As Ambassadors, these youth served leadership roles at the Summit, including speaking in panel discussions on youth engagement, and acting as respondents to other panel discussions.
One of the Youth Ambassadors, Ryan Dalton, was honored for submitting one of the eleven winning entries to the Spark Opportunity Challenge. Dalton wants to create educational and athletic camps for youth in underutilized parks in New Orleans’ 8th Ward to help reverse the effects of poverty and violence and keep youth on the path to success. Initiated by Spark Action and YLI as part of the Council’s call to engage opportunity youth, the SparkOpportunity Challenge asked young people to turn their ideas and experiences into concrete solutions. From hundreds of entries, eleven entries were chosen, including Ryan’s. The winners will receive start-up grants and opportunities to pitch their ideas to leading CEOs.
At the Summit, the Council released its final report and recommendations to the President. This report was informed by input from the Youth Ambassadors. The Summit ended on a hopeful and forward-looking note about new collaborative efforts unfolding across the country to address the problems that America’s opportunity youth face. YLI will continue its leading role in this national effort by elevating the authentic voices of youth in the national discourse to help forge creative, effective solutions to the issues that disconnect youth from schools and careers.
Stay tuned for more about YLI’s work in this arena, including our efforts to expand the Ambassadors group to facilitate youth engagement at a movement building scale.
YLI CEO CJ Callen and some of the YLI youth ambassadors at the White House summit (photo: Justin Harris)
YLI’s Youth Ambassadors are:
- Jairus Cater of Nashville, Tennessee
- Ryan Dalton of New Orleans, Louisiana
- Trevor Easley of Columbus, Ohio
- Francisco Garcia of Los Angeles, California
- Torres Hughes of Chicago, Illinois
- Shaakirah Medford of New York, New York
- Jose-Luis Mejia of San Francisco, California
- Brian Nguyen of Seattle, Washington
- Hanna Sharp of Indianapolis, Indiana
- Brittany Woods of Apple Valley, California
- Hashim Yonis of Minneapolis, Minnesota