Welcome to YLI’s Newest Office!

Opening in February of 2018, the Merced office is the first expansion of YLI’s offices in 14 years. Program Coordinators and community members Jesse Ornelas and Claudia Gonzalez are deeply passionate about youth. Over the next year, they will be working to establish YLI’s innovative, powerful youth programming while building strong relationships within the community.


Girls and Womyn of Color

The Merced Girls and Womyn of Color (GWoC) is a youth group composed of young womyn, girls, and adult allies from South Merced and surrounding communities. Designed to empower, support, and nourish the leadership of young womyn, GWoC provides a safe and caring space for participants. Resources and trainings work to develop their critical consciousness and tackle issues that affect their lives and communities.

For more information contact: Claudia Gonzalez at cgonzalez@yli.org or (209) 872-8405

Boys and Men of Color

The Merced Boys and Men of Color (BMoC) is a brotherhood of boys, young men, and adult allies. It is a safe space for young people to develop as leaders and as individuals, and build meaningful, lasting relationships. Engaging in critical dialogue about issues that affect their lives, young people will build the skills to effectively advocate for policy and systemic changes so that all Merced youth can succeed and thrive.

For more information contact: Jesse Ornelas at jornelas@yli.org

El Joven Noble

El Joven Noble is a curriculum designed by Maestro Jerry Tello of the National Compadres Network. Focused on Rites of Passage and character development, the curriculum connects young me of color to adult mentors, and reintroduces them to healthy traditions of manhood that have been forgotten. Concepts like the importance of Palabra, respecting women, recognizing their own sacredness, maleness vs masculinity, and defining “honor” are key program components.

For more information contact: Jesse Ornelas at jornelas@yli.org