Long Beach, CA – The City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) Office of Youth Development, in partnership with The Nonprofit Partnership (TNP) and Invest in Youth Coalition anchored by Khmer Girls in Action, will award $300,000 to seven organizations selected by youth as part of a participatory budgeting pilot project. A total of 823 youth who live, work and/or play in Long Beach voted on which projects to fund this summer.
“Participatory budgeting provides an incredible opportunity for community members to have a direct say in how to spend a part of the public budget,” said Mayor Rex Richardson. “This pilot program puts the choices directly in the hands of young people, empowering Long Beach’s youth.”
From May 2 to May 11, 2023, youth from 13 to 26 years old throughout Long Beach voted on the programs they wanted to fund. On the first day of voting, a voter fair was held at Long Beach City College, and voting locations were placed at high schools, teen centers and public libraries throughout the voting week. A total of 823 votes were validated, and the programs prioritized by youth voters centered on community care, housing, health and wellness, and transportation – aligning with four of the six goals in the Long Beach Youth & Emerging Adults Strategic Plan.
In March, local nonprofit organizations serving youth were invited to submit project proposals for consideration. Of the 60 ideas submitted, 19 were selected by youth budget delegates and were placed on the ballot. Listed in alphabetical order below are the seven organizations that won through youth popular vote, their funding amounts and brief descriptions of their awarded programs:
- California Families in Focus (Community Care), $70,000 — I Matter 2 Program is a nine-week summer program for youth ages 13 to 21 that focuses on shedding light on bullying and suicide prevention. Youth will receive group mentoring by professionals who will share their life stories and tips on coping with issues affecting them and will also participate in a variety of entrepreneur workshops and other social activities.
- Casa Youth Shelter (Housing), $60,000 — It’s on the Casa Program is a six-week program in central Long Beach, where participating youth will be connected to essential resources like housing, basic needs and incentives and will take part in fun activities that support their success, including mindfulness sessions, counseling and life skills workshops.
- Devotion Fitness (Health and Wellness), $20,000 — Sunset Boxing and Wellness Program will offer 12 weeks of beginner friendly boxing, yoga and sound bath lessons for emerging adults ages 18 to 26. Devotion programs help young adults navigate life by building community, alleviating stress and improving physical health, while providing an affirming space to exercise.
- M.O.R.E. Mothers (Health and Wellness), $56,892 — Summer full of Art Program aligns with positive youth development by providing 8- to 13-year-olds a supportive environment to grow, learn and develop through art. Designed for youth with all abilities, the program will teach awareness, acceptance, community-building and life skills and will culminate in a showcase exhibit to help build confidence and encourage young people to use their voice.
- Jazz Angels (Health and Wellness), $7,608 — Summer Jazz and Much More Program where youth ages 11 to 17 will engage socially and musically and learn how to play jazz in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment. Along with practice and preparation for a community performance, the program will also center around recognizing and providing youth with access to and knowledge about mental health care.
- Our Generation Cares (Transportation), $64,000 — Ignition to Independence: Car and Driver 101 Program will take a comprehensive approach to increasing access to safe and affordable transportation for youth and emerging adults by bridging the gap in driver's education access, regardless of socioeconomic background. With classroom instruction, practical driving lessons using a real-car-driving simulator and a loaner vehicle for youth to take the DMV test, this program ensures that participants have access to the resources necessary to obtain their driver's license.
- spcaLA (Community Care), $21,500 — spcaLA Friends for Life Summer Camp, for youth ages 14 to 17 who reside in the 90804, 90805 and 90813 zip codes, where participants will engage in dog training, cat care, games and activities as well as expanded curriculum around anger identification, conflict solving, empathetic choices, anti-bullying and kindness towards others.
Additional information on the awardees and their programs can be found at longbeach.gov/youthfund. Those interested in participating in any of the abovementioned summer programs should reach out to directly to the organizations.
Youth Power PB Long Beach, the first citywide participatory budget pilot process, provides non-profit organizations undertaking work aligned with the goals of the Youth and Emerging Adults Strategic Plan. Funding for the Youth Power PB Long Beach program is provided by Measure US.