While many kids may have viewed summer as a break from their textbooks, for others, it was a time to learn. Habitat LA—in partnership with the nonprofit Books & Buckets Youth Academy—engaged more than two dozen young people in conversations on community development and advocacy. The unique program, which was made possible by a State Farm Next Gen Engagement Advocacy Grant, raised several thought-provoking topics, from support for more affordable housing to increased access to community opportunities.
Neighborhood youth also had the opportunity to hear from community representatives at the local, state, and federal level. Speakers included school board and city council members, State Senator Lena Gonzalez, Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, and Congressmember Alan Lowenthal. The program participants were encouraged to use their voices to effect positive change in their community. “It’s about time we had a youth program of this caliber in our neighborhood,” shared David McGill, Project Director of Books & Buckets. “We want our youth to have their voices heard and giving them a space to do that in front of their elected leaders does exactly that.”
In their written letters to officials, the participants mentioned more bathrooms in parks, cleaner courts, and more security as just a few of the changes that they’d like to see in their community. And thanks to the generous $5,000 donation from State Farm, their letters will reach the hands of those officials. Through its support of youth advocacy engagement, State Farm aims to build stronger, safer neighborhoods, inviting young leaders to contribute to their communities by learning more about housing needs and getting directly involved with service initiatives and advocacy.
“Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles is proud to partner with Books & Buckets and State Farm to provide young leaders in the Washington Neighborhood with the tools they need to help build a stronger, more resilient community,” said Erin Rank, Habitat LA President & CEO. ”Young people are invested in the future of our cities, and we are committed to helping them effectively use their voices to communicate their vision.”
Participants of the Books & Buckets Youth Academy ended their summer program with a graduation ceremony. The event featured a special host, Councilwoman Mary Zendejas, who presented certificates from her District 1 office and the Long Beach Mayor’s Office to each youth member.