Salinas Youth Initiative exhibit celebrates East Salinas youth and programs
The Salinas Youth Initiative developed the stories and provides funding for 14 local nonprofit programs focused on academics, athletics, conflict resolution, arts and more for the youth in East Salinas.
The initiative began in 2012 after the Packard Foundation began looking into ways to invest in a critical community need in Salinas, said Packard Foundation Program Officer Miguel Salinas.
The foundation commissioned a study to learn about existing youth programs and services, and community survey feedback indicated that more positive opportunity for youth was a top request.
Since then, the foundation has invested almost $4 million into the initiative with funding going directly to the partnering organizations for anything they may need, from technical assistance to materials, said Salinas.
Krystal Herrera is a member of Artists Ink, one of the initiative’s partners, and said she enjoys being a part of the youth initiative through art because it allows her to voice her concerns about the state of the political landscape.
“Through this program, it has allowed me to influence others, influence my peers, my community, my family to really make a change to think about what’s going on,” said Herrera.
Mariluz Tejeda, a member of the Center for Community Advocacy’s Youth for Change program, said she thinks the initiative supports programs like her own that allow for change in the community.
“”(It’s) that aspect of direct community action and teaching youth what their voice is while teaching them that in the future, they shouldn’t be afraid to speak out to what they think is unfair,” said Tejeda. “I feel like that teaching is very powerful and I think that’s going to grow a new generation of leaders for our community.”
The exhibit in downtown Salinas, featuring photography by Jay Dunn as well as art created by local youth, focuses not only on the children involved but also the resources provided by the 14 nonprofit organizations partnered with the initiative, Salinas explained.
The website storiesfromsalinas.org showcases these stories and the new display downtown is an extension of that, said Salinas.
“The idea was to capture in the photos, content and stories of the amazing young people in these programs,” said Salinas. “We’ve always wanted to get together and celebrate.”
This 14-organization initiative looks to increase, as well as improve, the number of positive opportunities for children in East Salinas that come from low-income families.
“The end goal of the initiative is to have as many positive opportunities for young people to get involved with,” said Salinas. “It is also to support this wonderful network of non-profit organizations who are having an amazing impact on these young people through their program.”
The nonprofit groups involved with the initiative run varied programs for children.
“I think the idea of providing so many different opportunities for the youth is to find what interests them or sparks their imagination to get involved,” said Salinas. “It could be arts, it could be soccer.”
Ruth Rodriguez, community services manager for CHISPA, said collaborating with all the different organizations in a non-competitive way is amazing for everyone.
Rodriguez said the foundation grants CHISPA a minimum of $50,000 each year to provide safe environments in the city to host these activities and that this is creating a huge impact in Salinas.
“We’re thankful they’re in our community,” said Rodriguez. “I’ve seen the kids with excitement that they see that somebody believes in them by providing funding for the programs.”
Salinas Youth Initiative Partners:
- Alisal Community Arts Network
- Artists Ink
- El Camino Real Fútbol League
- César Chávez Fútbol Academy
- The Epicenter
- Gil Basketball Academy
- Hijos del Sol
- Life Is For Everyone (LIFE)
- Partners for Peace
- Restorative Justice Partners
- Salinas Public Library Tutoring Program
- Urban Arts Collaborative
- Youth for Change