Imagine a world where our local leaders always took a moment before making a decision to ask themselves what would be best for our children and youth…
That’s the world Youth Will is fighting for.
Youth Will is a nonprofit organization where young people across San Diego County unite to drive the change they seek in their communities. Their leadership program, community organizing and advocacy help elementary to university students, young adults transitioning out of foster care and formerly incarcerated youth gain access to opportunities that will develop their potential—allowing them to be happy, healthy and prepared to reach their potential.
The San Diego Workforce Partnership sat down with Sean Elo, Executive Director of Youth Will, to learn more about youth prioritization in San Diego.
How has Youth Will amplified youth voices to date? How does the organization ensure collective impact?
At Youth Will, we believe local government, nonprofits, businesses and schools must communicate and collaborate for the benefit of our young people. That’s why we work to establish strategies where folks can share their struggles, celebrate their successes and plan for collective impact. It also means developing a culture of youth-adult partnership where the beautiful wisdom of each generation can be shared to create a better future.
Over the last year, Youth Will, in collaboration with San Diego Workforce Partnership, mobilized dozens of youth from San Diego County to draft and launch San Diego’s Youth Bill of Rights—addressing one of the region’s most pressing issues: unrealized potential. The bill of rights was presented at the 2019 Opportunity Summit back in May.
The document contains 11 demands for culturally responsive education, sustainable housing, holistic healthcare and other essentials—providing the San Diego community with an explicit set of goals to expand opportunities for local children and youth.
We hosted youth-only forums around each of these rights in our most recent Summer of Youth Power series, and plan to launch youth-led campaigns around each of them in 2020.
In addition to the Youth Bill of Rights, we are also collaborating with San Diego leaders across various sectors to create a regional plan for child and youth development. It is slated to launch in late 2019.
Can you talk about “Youth Prioritization”? How does your organization prioritize youth—and ensure others do, too?
Their voices should be heard in voting booths, at public forums and across the media. But for too long, they have been an afterthought when important decisions are being made. We demand that decision-makers always ask themselves “how will this impact young people?” before any decisions are reached.
That’s why Youth Will trains young people to facilitate the meetings and trainings needed to build an intergenerational community where they can learn lessons of the past from elders, educate adults on present-day struggles, and most importantly, gain collective wisdom to produce real solutions to today’s challenges.
How can people get involved?
The future we are fighting for is only possible if youth leaders and adult allies support our efforts.
To learn more about how you can take action with Youth Will, please visit youthwill.org/get-involved.