The Invest in Youth Coalition is proud to announce that on Thursday April 1, Los Angeles City Councilmember Monica Rodriguez secured $1.1 million for the City’s first ever Youth Development Department. Councilmember Rodriguez celebrated this victory with dozens of youth activists who have pushed for the last 7 years for the City to fund a department focused solely on providing services and resources for youth. These young people from the Invest in Youth Coalition represented more than fifty (50) youth groups and community-based organizations from every corner of Los Angeles.
Councilmember Rodriguez is incredibly grateful to Mayor Garcetti for his pledge to put $1.1 million aside for the department in the City of Los Angeles budget. This department will allow the City of Los Angeles to provide services to youth aged 10-25 that focus on violence prevention, youth counseling, financial literacy, job preparation skills, technology assistance and other services that will better prepare them for the future.
“There’s always been ‘Oh, we can’t do it.’ We shouldn’t apologize for having to be forced to play to the rules of a system that were not developed by the people who are now living here,” Rodriguez said, acknowledging the city has been slow to act. “This is an opportunity for us to lead systemic change in this city.”
The Invest in Youth Coalition, led by Lou Calanche, is comprised of non-profit educational groups, community leaders, community-based organizations, parents, neighborhood groups and young people from the San Fernando Valley to East LA, from Koreatown to South LA. Calanche thanked Councilmember Rodriguez for her focus on the youth of Los Angeles and her dedication to the creation of the Youth Development Department. Calanche also thanked Mayor Garcetti for his enthusiastic support for the department and his $1.1 million commitment in the City budget.
“I hope that this is just the beginning,” Calanche told officials and youth activists gathered at City Hall Park. “We want to fill this park with thousands and thousands of young people that are empowered, that are employed, that have access to all the resources that they need to succeed.”
Jackie Vargas, one of the youth speakers at the press conference, has been a member of Legacy L.A. since middle school. “I can honestly cry right now, because it’s been years,” said Vargas, now 21. “It’s been years and years of struggle.”
Starlyne Vargas, a 10-year-old youth member of the Invest in Youth Coalition and Jackie Vargas’ younger sister, said, “I want to grow up in a city that cares about me and cares about my future.”
Christian Wimberly, another youth member said, “The youth of this City have worked so hard to finally see the creation of a youth department. We are incredibly grateful for Councilmember Rodriguez’s support and with this new funding from the Mayor, we can’t wait to hear that the City Council has voted to approve the department.”
The Invest in Youth Coalition looks forward to keeping up the momentum and working with the Los Angeles City Council to formally establish the Youth Development Department. Councilmember Rodriguez made the motion to create the department in February and it is still in the approval process at City Hall.