After waging a campaign for more than seven years, young activists celebrated a victory on Thursday when Los Angeles officials announced they would set aside $1.1 million for the creation of a centralized resource center for youth.
On the City Hall steps, Council Member Monica Rodriguez, who has been pushing for the formation of a youth-centric department since 2018, and Mayor Eric Garcetti told dozens of young activists the funding would be set aside in the mayor’s budget for the new Youth Development Department.
Los Angeles is one of the few major cities without a youth-focused department — New York, Oakland and San Francisco already have citywide departments, said Lou Calanche, the executive director of Legacy L.A., which offers academic and mentoring support to at-risk young people in East L.A. Calanche also serves on the Los Angeles Police Commission.
Youth isolation brought on by the pandemic and unrest over racial injustice have illuminated the disparities faced by young people of color in the city, Calanche said. In L.A., there are about 800,000 people ages 10 to 24: 200,000 live in poverty, 68,000 aren’t enrolled in school or are unemployed, and more than 3,000 are homeless, Calanche said.
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