Investing in Youth of Color

Young people are the future of our communities. Investing in our youth with resources, opportunities, and inspiration helps them succeed and thrive. But too often, youth of color lack access to positive resources like educational and career opportunities, afterschool programs, counseling, mental health services, arts and recreation. Despite the wealth in our region, many of our most profitable corporations avoid paying their fair share in taxes, squeezing budgets for public schools and community services. While public resources face constant threat of budget cuts and layoffs, in working-class neighborhoods and communities of color, youth have less access to private resources from their families. The legacy of racial and economic segregation in the Central Coast has meant the communities with the greatest needs for young people have the least funding to provide those resources. Scarce public funding mostly goes towards policing youth of color, dealing with the symptoms of the disinvestment in our youth by removing them from school, locking them up, and branding them with permanent criminal records, rather than tackling the root cause by providing them with more positive opportunities. This hurts our whole community in the long run, as our youth are exposed to negative experiences like violence, trauma, and addiction instead of positive ones like higher education, creative expression, peer groups, and mentorship. Youth exposed to harsh and traumatizing experiences who see few positive opportunities around them will too often repeat generational cycles of harm to themselves and others. Meanwhile our whole community misses our youth’s untapped potential for creativity, invention, and leadership. CAUSE organizes youth of color to speak up about their needs and the programs and services our communities are lacking. By bringing youth leaders to the table to be heard, we’ve won the creation of teen drop-in centers, free youth bus passes, and more funding for our local schools. We are working to create communities that invest in unlocking the limitless potential of our young people to create a better future for all of us.