I joined the Youth Organizing Institute family in 2013 as a volunteer and community supporter. The first program that I came in touch with was YOI’s Summer Freedom School–a multi-week summer camp for young people who want to fight the power and change the world. I got the witness the magic of high school students who were committing themselves to dismantling the school-to-prison-pipeline, end school re-segregation, and make schools safe for LGBTQ youth. In 3 days, I was completely transformed by the vision of YOI.
In the summer of 2014, I joined YOI staff in a part time capacity, relating to Freedom School, communications, and development work of the organization. In the past 3 years of working with YOI I have see firsthand how crucial it is to believe the experiences of young people of the world we live in. More importantly, how necessary it is to create space for youth to take control of their destinies and strategize for a world worth living in. From “Building Bridges: Teen Convening” that brings together youth leaders across different organizations and issues; to “Queernival: A Celebration of Southern Queer Youth Liberation”; to our” Solutions Not Suspensions” campaign that has pushed for restorative justice programs, ensured bilingual (Spanish-English) access in Wake County schools, to decreasing suspension rates, our commitment is always to our movement and the youth on the frontlines–without their steadfast vision, this work would not be as dynamic, creative, and powerful.
As of June, I am transitioning into the Director role at YOI, succeeding the vision and leadership of Elena Everett, who has committed her greatest love to building this organization along with original co-founder Monse Alvarez. It is with great humility that I accept this role and an honored to be part of a community whose support, love, and fighting spirit makes this work possible. I have a lot of ideas and visions I hope to share later this summer.
In the meantime, nothing would feel more congratulatory than a contribution to support YOI this summer as we enter our 7th year of the Summer Freedom School program. We are running two tracks (one in Durham, one in Raleigh), supporting our friends in Chapel Hill, and organizing an intergenerational Freedom School in Eastern NC this fall.
Our Freedom School program has always operated on a shoe-string budget and with the love of volunteers, donors, and allies who show up time and time again. Please consider making a contribution today to help us reach our goal of raising $2,500 for this summer.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be part of this work and to lead the Youth Organizing Institute into our next period of work, we will continue to not only defend and protect the gains made by young freedom fighters but push for an even more transformative vision of how young people should be able to participate in and craft our society.
With love and solidarity,