In 2006, worried about and heartbroken over a spike in youth violence, the San Diego community gathered with a goal to work together better for our children. Led by the work of the San Diego Organizing Project, they identified the catalyst of the tragedy: slashed funding for youth programs and services. Then, the elected officials, community organizers, committed public servants, religious leaders and parents created a plan they believed would bring a better future for San Diego.
The group knew re-establishing funding was only a piece of the solution. Their plan included a Youth Development Office (YDO) that would be devoted to making youth a priority by creating an integrated system that would protect children and youth from being the victims the next time the city faced financial struggles. The YDO would also ensure that the various perspectives and approaches in the county coordinated to support San Diego’s youth.
After years of hard work and advocacy, the establishment of the YDO was set in motion. It would be an office within the City of San Diego with the power to coordinate collaboration for policy development and service provision. Sadly, despite getting very close, the YDO never came to be within the City of San Diego. However, that does not mean good work was not done. The first iteration of the YDO helped set in motion a regional initiative to lower the rate of youth who are not working or in school. Learn more about the San Diego Youth Opportunity Pathways Initiative.
Now, after working with youth, elders and everyone in between to chart a new course ahead, we have changed the way we are doing our work. Youth will build the power needed to create change. Youth will collaborate with adults to improve the youth development ecosystem. Youth will demand prioritization from the decision makers in their community. Youth Will.
Paul Watson, Youth Power-Building Mentor
Khea Pollard, Youth Prioritization Mentor
Tareq Haidari, Youth Development Mentor
Monet Panza, TechHire Intern, Communications Specialist
Haley Rico, TechHire Intern, Census Amabassador
Carlos Torres, TechHire Intern, Census Ambassador
Subrein Damanhoury, TechHire Intern, Census Ambassador
Brittany Holman, Communications Intern
Jennifer Phung, High School Extern, Census Ambassador
Josh Piedra, TechHire Intern, Data & Analytics Specialist
A’liyah Smith, High School Extern, Census Ambassador
Angel Zepeda, High School Extern, Census Ambassador
Margie de Ruyter (Board Chair) – Coordinator, Career Pathways, College & Career Readiness – Learning & Leadership Services at San Diego County Office of Education
Imani Marshall (Vice Chair) – Evaluation and Learning Analyst, Mid-City CAN
Desjonae Hixon (Secretary) – Student, San Diego City College
Becky Phillpott – Founding Member
Max Ellorin – Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Councilwoman Monica Montgomery
Nicky Riordan – Program Officer, Joan B. Kroc INstitute for Peace and Justice, University of San Diego
Ryan Ginard – Chief of Staff, National University
James Halliday – Executive Director, A Reason to Survive (ARTS)
Samantha Harmer – Student, University of California, San Diego
Josue Hernandez – Business Solutions Specialist, San Diego Workforce Partnership
Irving Pedroza – Attorney, D’Egidio, Shah, & Townsend
Dinora Reyna – Executive Director, San Diego Organizing Project