Fresno teens and young adults have a chance to grow both personally and professionally as leaders and to serve as ambassadors for their community. The Transform Fresno Youth Leadership Development Program is looking to groom tomorrow’s leaders right now.
The purpose of the program is to nurture creative ideas and to guide the City of Fresno in funding neighborhood-level plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, it aims to provide economic, environmental and health benefits to disadvantaged communities in downtown, Chinatown, and southwest Fresno.
The program is managed by Transform Fresno in partnership with Fresno EOC Street Saints and the Youth Leadership Institute (YLI), a statewide organization which seeks to train in the areas of environmental justice, public speaking, and more.
Program Coordinator Kato Prado says YLI brings young people to the forefront of conversations. “The point is to really empower them through resources and mentorship, guidance and trainings to really step into their power, and make change when they want to see it in their communities.”
Transform Fresno also teamed up with Fresno EOC Street Saints to develop for the summer workshops. Olga Moya of Street Saints says they assisted with recruiting efforts, guest speakers and they provided youth with a safe place to hold the workshops.
During the summer of 2021, twelve young people took part in the four-week Summer Workshop Series, a condensed version of the year-long training. Workshops included an Environmental Justice 101 workshop at a local community garden. Youth learned about the varieties of plants cultivated in the garden that make it to our plates and how these plants and food outlets connect to environmental justice.
Brianne was a Summer Workshop Series Participant who says the program opened her eyes to new possibilities. “You know growing up, we see things that we want to change but we feel that we don’t have the resources or we don’t have like that kind of power. But with programs like these, it shows you that you really can come, like even though you’re younger, like there’s a spot and there’s opportunity for you, too.”
Cohort applications are accepted on a rolling basis. To qualify, you must live or go to school in the Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) which include the 93706 and 93721 zip codes. To learn more, visit https://yli.org/youth-opportunity/transform/.