South LA students encouraged to become leaders

by Jacob Hay, Good Jobs LA

imageMore than 230 students from South LA neighborhoods gathered for a two-day youth leadership summit last weekend at UCLA. The event, put on by Good Jobs LA and IDEAS at UCLA, sought to educate and mobilize today’s youth to be tomorrow’s leaders.

“This is a space for South LA students to learn about the issues impacting their communities and to better understand themselves and their roles in bringing change,” said Nayra Pacheco, one of ten Good Jobs LA interns who organized the summit. “Our communities need leadership and the best place to start is with young people.”

Workshops, developed based on conversations with local students over the past months, were geared towards providing young people with the tools they need to become leaders. Topics included job readiness, college preparation, community activism and organizing, political action, artistic expression, environmental justice, understanding identity issues and the role of corporate America in creating economic inequality.

In workshops on college preparation, students learned how to apply to college, about the resources available to help families pay for school and how a college degree is crucial to economic upward mobility. Students practiced interview skills and learned how to write a resume and cover letter in job preparation workshops. In workshops on politics and community organizing, students were taught skills on how to be leaders by building a community network, communicating persuasively and working with federal, state and local elected officials to bring positive change to their communities.

Students Amber McKenzie and Cynthia Hernandez, who is quoted in the story.

“Right now money is being taken from our schools to build jails. There’s a liquor stores on every corner where there should be libraries and parks,” said Cynthia Hernandez, a student at Locke Tech High School. “We can stop that. Putting money into our communities inspires us and gives students the tools to go to college, have a better life and become leaders who can fight for improvements for the next generation of students.”

Summit organizers provided transportation and healthy meals on both days of the event, despite a student turnout that far exceeded expectations. Each day’s session was more than eight hours long and involved multiple workshops, group activities and breakout sessions.

After the youth summit, Good Jobs LA will continue engaging young people on being leaders in their communities.

Good Jobs LA is coalition of community members and organizations committed to holding wealthy corporations accountable for contributing their fair share to our economic recovery and calling for investments in struggling communities to create good jobs.