In the early 90’s, the popular media was awash with a narrative that the youth were a “lost generation.” It was as if the crack-cocaine crisis and rise in gang violence had caused adults to give up on young people. Community Coalition rejected this assessment, and instead believed that an investment of resources was needed to build the next generation of leaders.
“I thought if we could take some of the normal rebellion that happens during those years and channel it into something constructive, then that would be a way to address gang involvement.”
Karen Bass, U.S. Congressmember
Community Coalition also broke ground by involving their youth members in advocacy campaigns. The prevailing notion at the time was that high school students were too immature to be interested in social justice issues. CoCo disproved this pessimistic view, as the organization quickly saw dozens of leaders blossom before their eyes. Our young members became fierce activists, capable of speaking out about the conditions in their schools and neighborhoods.
“The staff at Community Coalition empowered us and said ‘you have a voice, we’re going to teach you to organize, and we’re going to show you that you do have power.”
Annetta Wells, Community Coalition Youth Alumna
Advocacy and Academic Success
Over the last 24 years, Community Coalition’s youth program – South Central Youth Empowered thru Action (SCYEA) – has trained high school students to push for reforms that interrupt the “school to prison pipeline.” The program simultaneously helps students reach their full potential, become agents of change, and prepares them for college and success in the 21st century economy.
“If it wasn’t for the Community Coalition, I wouldn’t be attending San Francisco State, I wouldn’t be living out on my own, and I wouldn’t be having these amazing experiences.”
Jessie Fernandez, Community Coalition Youth Alumnus
Fighting for Better Schools
In the process of empowering young people academically, SCYEA has also won policy victories to transform South Los Angeles Schools. From securing hundreds of millions for infrastructure improvements, to guaranteeing college preparatory coursework for all students, SCYEA has been on the cutting edge of school reform.
“That’s what the Community Coalition probably does better than any organization we know – understanding how to connect grassroots and civic engagement into the halls of power, and how those dynamics result in improved lives for people in the neighborhoods.”
Dr. Robert Ross, president & CEO, California Endowment
Learn more about Community Coalition’s campaign victories