YES: CVNMEF Program Juntos engages Albuquerque youth to become leaders in their community
Juntos had the opportunity to host seven youth this summer as a part of the Youth Employment Summer Institute (YES). YES is a program that the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP) created to establish meaningful jobs for young people in Albuquerque. These jobs came in the form of a paid internship in which the youth were compensated for their time, gained job skills, built leadership skills, and worked to organize in their communities.
The Kellogg Foundation funded a grant to the SouthWest Organizing Project to employ 80 youth in a 12 week internship. SWOP then used this grant to collaborate with six other local organizations, and CVNMEF’s Juntos was fortunate to be able to jump on board!
Juntos brought in six youth interns, and were able to further engage our dedicated volunteer Steven Ramone by giving him the Youth Lead position. Steven worked with the Juntos organizers to plan a twelve-week curriculum to teach the youth about social justice, how to canvass, and gain job skills along the way. The task was not easy but Steven and the Juntos team pulled it off.
Over the course of twelve weeks, we taught our youth how to challenge the world around them. We worked with youth and taught them about racism, oppression, human rights and had the painful and difficult conversations that come with these topics. We gave them a big picture approach and let them find the importance of Environmental Justice and the work that Juntos does. In addition, we visited our New Mexico public lands and took part in riparian restoration at Bluewater Creek. Some youth had never been hiking before and showing them these beautiful spaces and why we must protect them was truly a rewarding experience.
In the end, Juntos helped to create seven young, new community leaders for New Mexico. Empowering our communities is the key to protecting our mother earth.
The program was such a success that this winter and into the spring, Juntos will continue to engage youth in their work through another internship program.
Educational programs like these are essential for our communities and contribute to the overall mission of CVNMEF. La Lucha Sigue! The fight continues!