How these California Youth are Celebrating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Across the United States, a new generation of young people are coming of age, and they are more diverse than any that came before them.

This is not an isolated change. In states across the country, demographic shifts point to a country in which diverse communities will soon be the norm, with projections showing that no one group will comprise the majority of the population within the next 25 years.

With changing demographics come changes in activism, especially among young people. For this generation of young change-makers, their work is infused with a sense of pride and inspiration in their culture and heritage. It celebrates diversity and highlights intersectional identities and histories.

Gustavo Martinez, Trinidad Moreno, and Benny Corona, for example, launched Ya Levantate! in California’s San Joaquin Valley to empower young farm workers and underprivileged youth. As first-generation college graduates, they wanted to empower farm workers and youth with the skills to share their stories through powerful media platforms.

Similarly, Leticia Lopez, Benny Corona, and Dalia Gonzalez developed Giant Sequoia Youth Project in Tulare County, California, which aims to provide youth of color who come from agricultural communities in Tulare County with an excursion to the Sequoia National Park.

Youth leaders understand that children of agricultural workers may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the parks’ sequoia trees and ecosystem. The Giant Sequoia Youth Project is providing underprivileged youth with opportunities to enjoy public lands, and is working to teach these youth that public lands are just as much theirs as anyone else’s.

Ya Levantate! and the Giant Sequoia Youth Project are just a couple examples of projects that are celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusion of youth and communities of color. The Pollination Project recently granted seven other youth groups in California the opportunity to demonstrate how they could help build a more resilient California. Here’s what they’re up to:

Sae Hee “Keshy” Jeong, Los Angeles Worm Farm Collective (LAWFC), Los Angeles, California. Works for economic justice by offering better job opportunities to those who experience limited options and oppressive workplace environments, including queer and trans folks, youth and young adults, people of color, women, and those from low-income and working-class communities.

Sae Hee “Keshy” Jeong, Los Angeles Worm Farm Collective (LAWFC)

Pratnya Moniaga and Crystal Santoso, Students for Food Justice, Los Angeles, California. Builds an American Disabilities Act (ADA)-approved garden at the Anna Bing Arnold Children’s Center at Cal State University Los Angeles to serve children with disabilities.

Pratnya Moniaga and Crystal Santoso, Students for Food Justice

Evelyn Mejia and Sergio Lara, Our Home Stanislaus, Stanislaus County, California. Engages youth with homeless populations, helping to build connections, compassion, and guiding youth to prevent them from following in the same path.

Alejandro J, Reyna G, Luis C, Crisantema G, and Fernando C, TODOS, Merced, California. Provides a space where community issues can be voiced and solutions can be shared through events that help unify community members while also celebrating diversity.

Luis Cisneros, Chakirina Gama, and Crissy Gallardo, Faces of the Central Valley, Merced, California. Documents the daily lives of real people and the real stories of the community through a story-telling photography project.

Christina Tibbs and Ariel Vegosen, Trans Youth Story Time, Los Angeles, California. Promotes Trans Youth Story Time, a Youtube channel that offers a platform for transgender and gender non-binary folks to share their stories and be seen.

Fatima Yousuf, Stories for a Future, Milpitas, California. This project improves the literacy and educational access of underprivileged children through book drives; setting up Little Free Libraries; running summer literacy programs; and offering new backpacks and school supplies for children in need.

Do you know a young person in California, age 13–24, who has an idea to improve their community but just needs some additional seed funding and mentorship? If yes, please have them complete our interest form, and a member from our Outreach Team will reach out to them if there are funds still available from The California Youth Rising Program