Opening in February 2018, the Merced office was the first yli expansion in 14 years. Program staff and freshly minted youth leaders in the Girls & Women of Color (GWoC) and Rise & Lift programs dove right in with their #MErcedToo campaign, addressing sexual misconduct in the Merced Unified High School District.
By summer, the office was already growing as yli merged with youth media organization, YouthWire. As part of this merge, Merced’s yli office took in the We’Ced program, which had been operating in Merced since 2011, training young people in storytelling skills and amplifying their voices on issues that matter to them and their communities.
The office also begun to extend its reach into neighboring Madera, where the Madera Youth Commission and Student Advocacy Council have just been established. The Madera site now operates as a satellite office.
Over the next year, the Merced office will be working to establish yli’s innovative, powerful youth programming while building strong relationships within the community. The programs are driven by La Cultura Cura curriculum, which integrates policy advocacy change and healing from trauma. It is youth-led, adult-supported, and elder-guided.
Timeline of Wins in Merced
In August 2021, Merced youth successfully advocate for a policy to protect street vendors.
On July 19, 2021, Merced’s We’Ced and Youth Revolutionary Front successfully advocated for a City resolution acknowledging violence against LGBTQ+ Black, Indigenous and people of color and for funding to open a center.
In July, Merced youth hosted a COVID-19 clinic, giving 40 south Merced residents got their shots.
In June of 2021, Merced youth participated in a campaign that resulted in a City resolution to officially recognize June as Pride Month, and to have the LGBTQ+ flag flown on Main Street.
In June of 2019, Merced youth successfully campaigned for $5,000 – and another $8,500 in June 2021 – in youth sports vouchers to cover registration and equipment fees for low-income youth.
In June, Merced youth spoke with elected officials and successfully advocated to allocate dollars from general fund to pay for lighting.
On April 10th, in partnership with the LGBT Alliance, Girls & Womyn of Color (GWoC) pushed forward an addendum to Merced Union High School’s new Sexual Harassment Response Plan and district documents to include LGBTQ+ friendly language. The new documents will be shared with all staff and students in the coming school year.
In partnership with 99Rootz, Girls & Womyn of Color successfully advocated for a change to Merced Union High School’s regulations for graduation attire to ensure indigenous students’ rights to wear cultural regalia and adornments.
In January 2019, the Merced Sun-Star delivered copies of Walking our Paths to communities across the county. This is We’Ced Youth Media’s 7th such publication, featuring the stories of young people, but with a very special twist. The entire publication was produced by the young people themselves.
BHC Merced awarded two ‘Cultivators of Change’ awards to YLI young people. First, We’Ced Youth Media was recognized for their part in leading the Trans Day of Remembrance + Trans & Intersex Rights March Merced which was the first ever in Merced County. Girls and Womyn of Color were also awarded the prize because of … Continued
Girls and Womyn of Color youth and staff advocated and facilitated for the passing of several policies that will create safer conditions for students and staff at Merced Union High School District. The school board adopted the following changes: Youth will be represented on the School Board, either as appointed members or with voting rights … Continued
On Wednesday, February 28th, YLI expanded our offices for the first time in 14 years!