Youth Advocacy Leadership League

centralvalley1The Youth Advocacy Leadership League (YALL) is a team of youth leaders from YLI programs throughout Fresno County. Young leaders ramp up their leadership skills, building relationships across programs, implementing social justice projects like the Sticker Shock Campaign and co-facilitating leadership trainings. Every year, these ambitious young people organize YLI’s Fall Fest and Summer Jam, events that offer critical resources to young people, highlight youth leaders, and create opportunities for young people to learn from each other.

This program is open to all youth who are currently participating in other YLI programs in Fresno County. Applications are open between May and July each year. Participants are expected to attend our 2-day Summer Leadership Camp at the end of July/early August, and meet every other week for the duration of the school year.

For more information contact: Cynthia Sapien Rocha csapien@yli.org

Fresno Boys and Men of Color

Mission statement: Fresno Boys and Men of Color is a community of young leaders who heal, advocate, and serve to make a healthy home for all.

Focused on leadership and advocacy, BMoC seeks to improve the life outcomes of young men of color by engaging them in issues that directly affect their health and wellbeing, and positioning them to become changes agents within their communities.

The program is grounded in the development of deep and lasting relationships. Healing circles are held monthly, and the annual Central Valley Regional Camp brings youth from Merced, Fresno, South Kern, and Cutler-Orosi together to build brotherhood and leadership skills. The youth have also implemented a number of successful campaigns on diverse social justice issues that led to critical policy changes as well as events that bring the community together.

These include:

  • Establishing the City of Fresno Youth Commission, featured in this Medium article.
  • Creating the Fresno Police Chief’s Youth Advisory Council, highlighted in the above video.
  • Advocating, as part of a broader coalition, for the Safe Schools Resolution, ensuring that Fresno’s Unified School District protects undocumented students, shared on ABC 30 ABC 30 Action News and in this Fresno Bee article.
  • Creating a space for the community to heal together through Dia de Los Muertos community altars. BMoC’s 2016 altar was spotlighted in local TV stations ABC 30 Action News, Univision 21, Central Valley Today, and CBS 47 Eyewitness News, as well as this Fresno Bee article. The 2017 altar was featured on TV station KSEE 24.

These and other stories are shared on the YLI Blog.

In addition to local civic participation, Fresno BMoC is part of a larger statewide initiative advocating for policy change that will improve health and life outcomes for boys and men of color.

BMoC is open to all male-identified youth (middle school to college-age) in the City of Fresno. Program meetings are held weekly, and our Youth Healing Circle is held on the first Thursday of each month from 5-7pm.

For more information contact: Sher Moua at smoua@yli.org

HYLP: Hispañas Youth Leadership Program

HLYP is the youth component of the statewide program, Hispañas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE). The program is designed to prepare low-income, high school-age Latinas for higher education as well as future personal and professional success. Every year, 4 young women from 8 counties across the state are selected to participate. YLI administers the program in Fresno County.

Each cycle, the cohort conducts and analyzes a survey of their fellow Latina students about a range of issues that affect them. Based on survey results, the young women create a video that presents the problem, the research, and their recommendations for improving the quality of life for Latinas in the county. Throughout this process, they attend leadership trainings and meet with local elected officials. The cycle ends when they present their video to Fresno’s City Council.

This 6-month program is open to Latinas who are juniors in high school in Fresno County. Applicants can apply between November-December each year. Participants meet every other week between January and June, and are expected to attend 3 statewide conferences.

For more information contact: Yammilette Rodriguez at yrodriguez@yli.org

Youth Leadership Advisory Board

The Youth Leadership Advisory Board (YLAB) is YLI’s youth philanthropy program in Fresno. The young leaders/organizers on the Board are YLI alumni who have been selected because they represent Fresno communities, have demonstrated their capacity for leadership, and are committed to empowering the youth of Fresno County to engage in positive social change. Each annual cycle involves reviewing applications, making tough decisions, and selecting 10 young people to honor with a Distinguished Scholarship. Approximately $5,000 is given away each year in scholarships. Occasionally, YLAB also awards mini-grants to individuals and groups in the community to further social justice projects.

This  program is open to YLI Alumni. Participants meet quarterly throughout the year and as-needed during scholarship cycle.

For more information contact: Cynthia Sapien-Rocha at csapien@yli.org

Fresno County Friday Night Live

cental_valley3With chapters in 52 counties across California, Friday Night Live (FNL) is a statewide organization that seeks to address the critical issue of underage substance abuse by providing safe spaces and educational activities for youth as an alternative to drinking and partying. Operating out of school sites and other youth centers, the chapters support youth to become active leaders and resources in their communities.

In Fresno County, YLI staff lead a number of chapters, ensuring that they are aligned with the FNL Standards of Practice and Operating Principles. FNL youth leaders are also introduced in YLI’s social justice framework, which shifts the focus from individual behaviors to the larger patterns of injustice that target young, low-income people of color and encourage unhealthy behaviors. Young leaders emerge, as youth participants identify issues in their communities, conduct research, and implement media and policy campaigns that address health equity and substance abuse.

Fresno FNL sites are headed up by the following YLI staff:

FNL (college): Fresno Pacific University — Cynthia Sapien

FNL (high school):

Club Live (middle school): Gaston Middle School, Kerman Middle School — LJ

FNL Kids (elementary school): Hacienda Heights, Summer Park, Fenix Apartments — Cynthia Sapien

Teen Night Transformation Team: Bethany Inner City Church — José Espinoza

The policy wins and media campaigns fomented by FNL youth leaders have created real and lasting change in their communities, such as the successful Sticker Shock Campaign, which partnered with the local FoodsCo. to hold a press conference and label packs of alcohol with warning stickers to educate adults about underage drinking. The story was aired on the local TV station, ABC 30 Action News, as well as The Fresno Bee.

Programs are open to all youth at each site — please contact the site coordinator for more information about meeting times.

For general information contact: Cynthia Sapien-Rocha at csapien@yli.org

Fresno Youth Commission

FYC_CollageThe Fresno Youth Commission was established in February 2016, thanks to the powerful advocacy efforts of Boys and Men of Color, a YLI program. The Commission is a recognized entity of city government, and is responsible for advising the Fresno City Council and the Mayor on policies and laws related to young people. The Commission is also charged with providing comment and recommendation on all proposed laws that would primarily affect youth before the Board takes final action. It is a key platform for bringing youth voice to the decision-making table.

The first Commission, launched in April 2016, is comprised of 16 young people — 2 representatives for each of Fresno’s 7 city council districts, and 2 at-large members appointed by the Mayor. The Commissioners began their terms by researching issues impacting Fresno youth, and found the lack of youth employment to be key among them. The Commissioners pushed City Council members to pass a policy that created 30 new City internships for youth and, in September of 2017, organized a town hall to collect community feedback on jobs.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2018-2020 term. All Fresno residents 16-21 years old are welcome to apply — LGBTQ+ youth and youth of color are highly encouraged to apply! Applications can be found here, and are due Friday, July 20th.

For more information contact: Jose Espinoza jespinoza@yli.org

Rural Youth Commission Advocacy

The Rural Youth Commission Advocacy program is planting the seeds of youth leadership and activism in Fresno’s rural areas by launching youth-led campaigns to establish Youth Commissions in small towns and cities. Youth Commissions are a recognized entity of city government, and are responsible for advising the City Council and Mayor on policies and laws related to young people. They are a key platform for bringing youth voice to the decision-making table.

The Rural Youth Commission Advocacy program starts by identifying budding young leaders and providing intensive trainings that prepare them to implement their campaigns. In 2017, advocacy groups were initiated in the towns of Orange Cove, Reedley and Sanger. Youth in Orange Cove and Reedley have already begun to move forward on their campaigns, and will be working in 2018 with partners and City Council members to draft and pass resolutions to establish new Youth Commissions. The City of Sanger already has a resolution, and the youth leaders are actively looking for ways to strengthen it and make it more youth-friendly.

Youth participants attend weekly meetings and the annual YALL Summer Leadership Program. Their goal is to pass policies to establish/strengthen Youth Commissions in their cities in Fall of 2018.

For more information contact: Johnny Mendes: jmendez@yli.org

Past Projects