What they’re saying: Immigrant rights groups announce support for expansion of governor’s youth program 

Community organizations shared their support for expanding eligibility for #CaliforniansForAll Youth Corps to include AB 540 CA Dream Act Students, and immigrant youth who have work authorization including DACA beneficiaries. The proposal also provides a set-aside of $2 million for tribal communities to take advantage of the program.

The expansion, supported by Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, TODEC Legal Center and other immigrant rights groups, is proposed in the 2023-24 FY state budget and will ensure the program serves the most vulnerable population.

“Far too often tribal and undocumented youth are excluded from service opportunities,” said California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday. “Expanding our #CaliforniansForAll Youth Corps to include them will benefit these young people, their communities and all of California.”

Youth Corps is an innovative partnership between the state and local governments to help underserved youth and young adults, ages 16-30. As a paid service program, participating community organizations offer wrap-around services such as mentoring and training.

“The #CaliforniansForAll Youth Corps puts young people front and center in their communities to tackle the issues that will impact them directly,” said Angelica Salas, CHIRLA executive director. “It is time to ensure that we provide this invaluable opportunity to as many California immigrant youth as possible, regardless of their immigration status. Ensuring that immigration status is not a barrier to participation and that all can contribute to their communities is a key component of building the leaders of today and tomorrow, centered in equity and integration for all,”

The program is administered by California Volunteers, Office of the Governor and is designed to help youth who are unemployed, not in school, from low-income families, have a history of justice involvement or are transitioning from foster care. Youth Corps members help cities and communities bolster their ability to address food insecurity, climate change and COVID-19 recovery.

“We have a moral responsibility as a state to continue to defend, protect, and provide opportunities to undocumented youth,” said Luz Gallegos, TODEC executive director. “With the expansion of the eligibility for #CaliforniansForAll Youth Corps, we have the opportunity to invest in our future generations and our state’s economy.”

“Partnering with #CaliforniansForAll Youth Corps allows the City of Los Angeles to create 4,000 spots for youth in 14 programs,” said Brenda Shockley, deputy mayor, Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity. “This partnership targets youth including low-income, justice-involved youth and participants who are transitioning from foster care, transitioning out of homelessness, or are engaged with the mental health or substance abuse systems. These young Angelenos are introduced to opportunities that create pathways that prepare them for future opportunities.”

“We have witnessed firsthand the leadership, passion and drive that AB 540 Dream Act Students have displayed to create a better future, not only for themselves, but for their families and community,’ said Rosie Arroyo, senior program officer – immigration, California Community Foundation. “This partnership is a critical step towards ensuring that all youth, regardless of status, have a springboard to accelerate progress that is much overdue. An investment in our youth is an investment in California’s future.”

“Barrio Action Youth and Family Center has for more than 45 years supported low-income families including prioritizing our youth to equip them with great choices for their future,” said Tammy E. Membreño, executive director. “The #CaliforniansForAll Youth Corps partnership is just what we need to continue to support our youth to connect with opportunities, build their options for their future and become part of the changes we need in our collective communities.”

“East Los Angeles College and the Dream Resource Center are excited to contribute to these important discussions,” said Alouette Cervantes-Salazar, Dream Resource Center coordinator, East Los Angeles College. “Offering support and opportunities to undocumented youth can positively affect not only the youth but their family and community. Our youth have so much to offer and are looking to thrive, not just survive. Through these collaborative efforts we can help them move forward to achieve their personal, educational, and financial goals.”

Learn more about #CaliforniansForAll Youth Corps at CAYouthCorps.com.