WELA YMCA Youth Present Plans to Improve Their Community



WELA YMCA Youth Institute, is part of the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) initiative funded by The California Endowment.Youth are exploring and investigating how the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) can empower and improve their local school communities.

Students in the WELA YMCA Youth Institute Youth Voices program culminated their learning experience with presentations detailing their visions for community improvement.

Three teams of students each prepared a final slideshow of their community improvement plan to share with the summer participants of the WELA YMCA program, in an effort to demonstrate and promote civic engagement and advocacy.

Students at the WELA YMCA Youth Institute listen to presentations.

As a part of the Building Healthy Communities Campaign funded by the California Endowment, the students examined their community of Boyle Heights, identifying issues that could be improved by using the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). LCFF is a new California state policy measure that provides additional funding and resources for schools with large numbers of foster youth, English language learners, and low-income students. Many of the schools in Boyle Heights qualify for the increased funding through LCFF, and the money could be used to fund the students' initiatives.

Following the Youth Voices curriculum, students identified concerns they would like to develop solutions to. With the use of multimedia tools, research, and community outreach, the students developed, supported, and are now promoting their ideas. These presentations marked the final step of the Youth Voices curriculum, combining the previous eight steps in an attempt to gain the support necessary for implementation.

Ricky Ruiz and Francisco Martinez formed the group skaters4justice.
Claudia Espinoza and Daniel Vazquez advocate for smaller class sizes.

This year the student groups selected problems they faced everyday in their schools and, aimed to create a viable plan to combat these challenges.

The group Skaters4justice saw the need for more school counselors, claiming that their school's ratio of one counselor per 400 students is too high. They argue that having more time to spend with a counselor would increase a student's chance of going to college.

Skaters4justice want to have more counselors in schools. They created a presentation that shows the benefits of school counselors.

Through their research, Skaters4justice found that having more access to counselors increase a student's chances of graduating.

Foxotography, a group formed by Daniel Vasquez and Claudia Espinoza, advocated for smaller class sizes in order to get personalized attention from the teacher, as well as to prevent the fire hazard that the current classrooms present as a result of overcrowding.

Click here to view their presentation.


Chloé Garcia and Jayda Lobban recognized the importance of music in their own lives and wanted to make it available in the classroom at all schools. The Cyberpunks, as they're called, found that having a music program at school can promote graduation rates and increase students' motivation to attend class. Despite these benefits, many school music programs have been underfunded or cut all together due to budget constraints.

The Cyberpunks created a presentation that calls for music programs to be available in all schools.
Jayda and Chloe interviewed experts for feedback on their idea.
The Cyberpunks built their message with connections to their own enthusiasm for music.

In order for the groups' proposals to become a reality in schools, the students would need to recruit support from other students, parents, educators, and community members, and take their ideas to officials from the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is ultimately responsible for allocating the funds to schools for various uses. The students hope to continue their work on these issues by presenting their findings to community stakeholders and engaging them in the process.

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