Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he would include $1.1 million in the city’s 2021-22 budget to fund a first-ever Youth Development Department to be considered by the city council.
Garcetti made the announcement Thursday at a press conference with councilmember Mónica Rodríguez, who introduced a motion in February which would consolidate dozens of the city’s youth programs under one department. The motion, which has not been scheduled for a council vote, has the support of several members – including Kevin de León from CD 14.
Youth representing some 50 organizations that form the Invest in Youth Coalition attended Thursday’s press conference in front of City Hall.
“I’m pleased to join these young people who are the future leaders of Los Angeles and I enthusiastically support the creation of a Youth Development Department,” said Garcetti..
The Invest in Youth Coalition has run a campaign to create a citywide youth department for several years. Started in Boyle Heights (and originally named the Boyle Heights for Youth campaign), it is led by Legacy LA executive director Lou Calanche.
According to a press release, the new department would allow the city to provide services to youth aged 10-25 that focus on violence prevention, youth counseling, financial literacy, job preparation skills, technology assistance and other services that will better prepare them for the future.
“In an era of reimagining, let’s fix broken systems and fund programming that serves the needs of young people and put an end to policing our way out” said Rodríguez, who represents the Northeast section of the San Fernando Valley. “The 800,000 youth in our City deserve a department that invests in developing their full potential and is structured, governed and measured to meet their needs.”
The Invest in Youth Coalition is made up of non-profit educational groups, community leaders, community-based organizations, parents, neighborhood groups and young people from throughout the city. Besides Legacy LA, Boyle Heights organizations that are members of the coalition include the Latino Equality Alliance, Self Help Graphics and Casa 0101 Theater.
Several young members spoke at Thursday’s press conference.
“Young people from every community in LA have come together to ask the City Council to support the creation of this Youth Development Department,” said 10-year-old Starlyne Vargas.
“This department will provide critically important services to youth and young adults who have had a difficult time with school, studies, work and just coping since the start of the coronavirus pandemic,” added Christian Wimberly, another youth member.