YLI started the year off with a bang. YLI was honored to receive the Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence award from the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership at its annual Heart of Marin event on January 12. In addition, two of our incredible youth leaders, Jose Gomez and Noah Block, also received Youth Volunteer awards. The Nonprofit Excellence Award comes as we celebrate our 25th anniversary and on the heels of our CEO’s second year, symbolizing a new era for the organization of stability, innovation, and growth.
YLI received the Nonprofit Excellence award for its work and partnerships in the community and we are thrilled to celebrate with you. This year, we are engaging 1371 youth to become youth leaders in their communities. Our outcomes are inspiring; after a year participating in our programs, 88% of youth believe they can partner with adults to effect change; 72% of youth practiced public speaking; 69% engaged in a research project to assess the health of their communities; and 46% of youth spoke directly in a meeting with an elected official about a policy they were working to change.
Youth in partnership with YLI are shifting the conversation on other topics of equity; in May youth leaders of YLI spoke during the annual First 5 Forum about their experiences with race and equity in Marin. YLI remains committed to pollinating impactful conversations about equity and youth across Marin County.
YLI was also thrilled to share the stage with two of our youth leaders, Jose Gomez and Noah Block, who each won Youth Volunteer of the Year awards and $1000 prize scholarships.
Jose has been a member of the Friday Night Live Chapter at Novato High for three years. Last year, he helped lead the Chapter’s project aimed at reducing alcohol and tobacco advertisements in Novato. He worked with other students to assess storefronts in Novato and he brought the issue of alcohol and tobacco advertisements to the attention of policymakers at Novato City Council.
While Jose continues to be dedicated to reducing youth substance youth, he has expanded his work in the community to focus on other areas. Last spring, he volunteered to be one of three youth panelists at First 5’s Annual Policy Breakfast. The event focused on race and inequity of educational opportunities amongst youth in Marin. Jose talked about his own experiences living as a young man of color and encouraged adults in the room to take action to address inequity in Marin. Jose also serves as the only youth voice on Marin County’s Community Advisory Group, where he works with community leaders to reduce some of the barriers to housing in Marin and ensures Marin follows FAIR Housing guidelines of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Noah Block is a strong youth advocate and member of the Marin County Youth Commission. He serves as the MCYC Secretary and is an exemplary leader. Through his role as an MCYC cabinet member, Noah raises critical questions, shows an in-depth understanding of issues affecting his community, and above all shows a genuine concern for issues of equity in Marin County.
Noah brings his leadership to Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol (CMCA) with other students, elected officials, and community member to influence policy that will decrease access to alcohol for youth in Marin. Noah is also heavily involved in his school district, serving as a Youth Trustee for the School Board, and he has been an advocate of restorative justice throughout Marin County.
Recognizing their leadership, U.S. State Representative Jared Huffman invited Noah and Jose to participate in an interfaith vigil. (Check out Congressman Huffman’s January 22 Facebook post!) As the Marin community came together to build with one another, Noah and Jose were there to help remind people of the importance and beauty of youth engagement.
Congratulations Noah and Jose for the recognition of your tireless efforts to improve and strengthen your communities!