We all know that children are our future, and that Santa Barbara is a wonderful place to grow up. Many local children, however, are raised in low-income households, distressed neighborhoods, and underfunded schools. As a result of these and other challenges, they struggle to find a meaningful path to self-sufficiency.
After a thorough exploration of possible local causes to engage in the spirit of Tikkun Olam, CBB’s Social Action Committee chose to focus on assisting these youth. We found their circumstances compelling, but what really spurred our commitment was the potential for CBB members to make meaningful and long-lasting impacts on the lives of our neighbors while building mutually enriching bridges well beyond CBB’s campus.
To jumpstart this effort, we have forged an exciting relationship with Youth Interactive, a local nonprofit that has been helping at risk youth overcome poverty and injustice by enabling them to run real life businesses with the help of professional mentors. Of the more than 90 teens Youth Interactive serves, 86% are from low-income households, 75% are Hispanic, and 50% are on probation or have a criminal record. Youth Interactive treats them like responsible, valuable young adults, holding them accountable for their choices and supporting them to reach for their dreams.
While the teens are thriving in their Youth Interactive businesses, they still lack access to many basic civic, academic and experiential opportunities due to socio-economic and other reasons. While we will be launching academic and civic mentorship programs in the Fall (that you’ll hear more about soon), right now we are hoping to jumpstart this CBB/YI initiative by helping YI students access Summer camp and job shadowing opportunities
Our objective is to enable enriching summer experiences that Youth Interactive teens either haven’t experienced before or cannot otherwise afford. So right now, we are looking for the following:
• No cost summer camp experiences. Do you know anyone who runs or is involved with a daily or weekly camp or program that provides scholarships or might be willing to provide a no-cost slot for one or two Youth Interactive Students (aged 14-19)? Are you willing to sponsor a Youth Interactive student’s experience at a camp of his or her choice? Camp fees range from $130/week for basic daily activities to over $1,000 for sleep away camps or multi-week sessions.
• Opportunities to experience an occupation of interest. Are you willing to have a Youth Interactive student shadow you or someone at your workplace for a day during the summer? Our hope is merely to offer these students a glimpse of occupations that may interest or even inspire them.
If you are interested in impacting the life of a Youth Interactive student with activities or shadowing this summer, please contact Dan Meisel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-565-2050. You can learn more about Youth Interactive at its website: www.youthinteractive.us.
We are excited to launch this initiative with Youth Interactive and look forward to sharing more about it in the months to come. I personally wish to thank the Committee members who have helped to get this project off the ground — Judy Mannaberg-Goldman, David Gaynes, Helene Graddow, Liat Wasserman, Gail Teton-Landis, Marlene Beckerman, Brianna Moffitt, Drew Abrams, and Rabbi Suzy Stone.
Dan Meisel, Social Action Trustee