Youth Making Change: Changes Students for the Better
March 27, 2017
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Philanthropy is not a typical high school student’s area of expertise, but for Dos Pueblos High School sophomore Jessica Delgado, trying out something new and unknown changed her life more than she could have imagined.
Youth Making Change (YMC) is a youth-led grant making organization centered on training students in philanthropy, which offers several DP students a chance to gain leadership skills and interact with other students.
Delgado explained that the YMC program is about giving back to the community, but she was also deeply impacted personally by being a part of it. Before being a part of YMC, she had a lot of anxiety talking to other people, especially strangers.
“After being there awhile, I started learning how to publically talk, and am more comfortable now,” Delgado said. “To the point where I can kind of gather my thoughts together.”
DP junior Vivian Le is another member of YMC, who has gained leadership skills from the program, while also being able to meet and interact with teenagers from various high schools.
YMC board members vary from ages 13 to 19, and new applicants are accepted every year.
“They take a couple teens each year from local high schools,” Le said. “And give us $15,000 a year to give away to any youth-led groups, and then we reach out to those groups to inform them.”
One group YMC funded is called ‘SB Pals,’ which pairs up high school mentors with at-risk elementary school children to steer them clear of drug abuse or violence.
Le explained that the process for giving out grants to these youth-led groups is a fairly long process.
“We have to reach out to the groups to inform them about opportunities to get grants,” Le said. “They get to apply, have an interview, and then we review them over a couple hours.”
Delgado initially felt uneasy about applying for YMC but is glad she moved past her nervousness and tried something out of her comfort zone.
“The first day we went to Lake Cachuma, we had a retreat, so we could learn and get a big idea of what Youth Making Change was about,” she said. “That’s when I slowly started opening myself up.”
YMC is an organization that encourages teens to not only become more aware of what is happening in their community, but also get involved.
Le, through YMC, learned more about the Santa Barbara and Goleta community, as well as about other local teens.
“I would definitely recommend it,” Le said. “Because you get to meet local high schoolers that you didn’t know before, but find out you have so much in common with.”
On Thursday, March 16th, YMC held a ceremony for giving out the grants out to the groups.
Delgado was extremely anxious about speaking in front of so many people and was afraid of being judged by strangers, as well as the many important people, such as Representative Salud Carbajal, that were in attendance.
“I was freaking out the whole time,” she said. “But then I did it, and was able to stand up, and it was great.”
Delgado did not think the program would be anything special, but once she joined, she realized how accepting everyone was, and how it became like a little family.
“It helped me grow as a person because I learned to be more open-minded about other people, well, more than I already am,” she said. “It leaves you being very open minded because you get to meet very diverse groups of people.”
Le suggests people apply for the program if they want to improve their leadership skills and learn more about their local community.
“We just learned more about the community and things that we didn’t even know existed,” she said. “Such as so many programs through UCSB for women, and at high schools.”
Delgado says she wishes she could go back in time and tell herself to be less nervous to apply for YMC since it ended up being such an impactful experience in her life.
“I was freaking out thinking ‘They’re not going to accept me, I have nothing special about me,’” she said. “Just get your voice out there, and don’t be as afraid. I wish I could go back in time to just tell myself that.”