An important aspect of Alianza’s work is helping residents become community leaders and effectively advocate for needed change. That’s why the Alianza Youth Organizing Council exists: to prepare young people to be the Eastern Coachella Valley’s future leaders by helping them put their values into words and their words into actions.
In a 2020 focus group, YO-C members shared how participation helped them develop leadership skills like planning and organizing, and the confidence to speak up and express their opinions in public.
Alianza is expanding the role young people play in our advocacy with specialized youth task forces that work closely with the Community Justice and Environmental Justice campaigns. And this week, the Community Justice Youth Task Force formally launched its second year of programming.
[Read more about the YO-C and the 2021 case study of its positive impact.]
In the coming months, the 12 members from three East Coachella Valley high schools will work closely with Alianza staff and campaign partners to advocate for better learning environments in schools and the responsible spending of education funds meant to help at-risk student groups. They will also participate in trainings around restorative justice, mental health first aid, and their rights as students.
“I feel like our school has a lot to say, but they don’t have some way to voice it,” said Janeey Carrillo, a task force member and senior at West Shores High school. “I’m just trying to figure out ways to help our community and our school.”
The launch event included an introduction to reading a school board meeting agenda and giving public comments, either written or in-person.
In November, the task force will attend a Coachella Valley Unified School District Board meeting, a step that will prepare them to weigh-in on the school district budget next year.
[Why we need restorative justice now.]
Ryan Diaz, a senior at Coachella Valley High School, said he joined the task force to raise awareness of community issues like poverty and work toward solutions.
“There are everyday issues that we see but we can’t really do anything about on our own,” Diaz said. “But coming together as a group with other students will make our voice more heard.”