Jesse Orñelas

Jesse comes to YLI with a ton of life experience. As a youth, Jesse was incarcerated and involved with the system until he was 18. As an adult, he was once again caught in the grips of incarceration.

Jesse has several years of experience in grassroots organizing in Merced County. As a Brown Beret, Jesse focused his work on the Anti-Police Brutality component of the Chicano Movement. He was the founding President of Merced College M.E.Ch.A., where he was also the Associated Students of Merced College President. During his time at Fresno State, he was involved with M.E.Ch.A de Fresno State and the founding President of Chicano Latino Studies Student Association (ClASSA). He takes that knowledge of organizing and advocacy as well as his cultural knowledge into his work with youth.

Jesse is the Program Coordinator for Rise and Lift in Merced. His focus is to make sure the young people’s involvement in the program is transformational. He utilizes the El Joven Noble curriculum and also adds is own sabor into it. It serves as a means for character development and cultural healing, and ensures that the most vulnerable boys and men of color in the Merced community are confident in who they are. Ultimately, they are prepared to speak truth to power and can create impactful change in Merced and beyond.