I have been on the board of an organization called Youth Together for almost a year and a half now. I have been a supporter of the organization almost as long as I have been in the Bay (over five years now). Please read about this wonderful organization and consider coming out on our May 16th event. Over the next few weeks we will be making unique and beautiful political art that will be available the day of the event. See you there! -melanie
THE HISTORY OF YOUTH TOGETHER
Youth Together was created as a community-based response to inter-racial conflicts and violence in our school communities. Shortly after the passage of Prop. 187 and during the Prop. 209 campaign efforts, school officials, mental health workers, and parents were reporting increased incidents of inter-racial conflicts and violence in school communities, including group attacks on youth based upon racial identity.
In response, community leaders and activists convened parents and public and school officials to assess the problems and determine proactive solutions. The outcome of these meetings in 1995 was a commitment to work collaboratively to address the underlying conditions that contribute to the racial tension and poor developmental outcomes of students. This commitment led to the formation of Youth Together in 1996.
The community leaders and activists who founded YT believed that social, political, community, and educational inequities were at the root of these tense conditions at schools; and that youth must take the leadership in creating long-term solutions.
In 1997, YT student teams at each target school, representing the diversity of the student body, assessed the needs of students in their schools. In every needs-assessment, the overwhelming majority of students was concerned about problems in their schools and wanted to participate in creating positive solutions. YT has provided the vehicle for young people and other community members to empower themselves by coming together to advance the health and wellness needs and rights of our school community members.
YT’s founders were Margaretta Lin, David Kakishiba, Gabriel Hernandez, Millie Cleveland, and Warrick Liang. Representing their respective community-based organizations, these individuals helped found YT as a multiracial consortium between ARC Associates (YT’s former lead agency), East Bay Asian Youth Center, Xicana Moratorium Coalition, West Oakland Health Council, and International Institute of the East Bay. Their social justice experience and knowledge of and close connections to the ethnic-specific communities they serve helped shape the model and guiding principles YT follows. YT currently operates as a single organization with a board of directors comprised of youth, staff and community representatives.
Consider the reasons why founders were inspired to form YT in 1994: – inter-racial conflicts in schools, bursts of violence, reactionary reforms in public schools, and a lack of student voice in decision making. Founders were also inspired by the rich history of social change that has been accomplished as a result of organized communities locally, nationally, and internationally. Seeing what was, as well as what has improved and how, we can see what still needs to be done.
Grounded in our commitment to unity, peace and justice, Youth Together addresses the root causes of educational inequities by developing multiracial youth organizers and engaging school community allies to promote positive school change.
Education is a basic human right, not a privilege.
The vision of Youth Together is to reclaim public education. We seek to create public educational systems that are just, community based, supportive and people centric. We aim to empower, mobilize, and build self-determination among students and their communities.
Youth Together envisions students who think critically, are social change agents, and who challenge internalized, interpersonal, and institutional oppression in their schools and communities. Specifically, we envision public schools as spaces where youth, their families, and community members are key decision makers in their educational experience.
We envision an educational system that is both the center of the community and a tool for creating community. When local educational institutions are designed to meet the needs of students, a strong community is created.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Youth Together.
Donations can be sent to:
449 15th Street #302
Oakland CA 94612