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MEChA de UCLA Raza Youth Empowerment Project now The Raza Youth Empowerment Project, formerly known as the Raza Youth Education Project was established and Co-founded by MEChA de UCLA Chair Margarita Gonzales and High School Coordinator Henry Perez in 1996 as a result of the lack of access to higher education to Chicana/o Latina/o students. The Ban of affirmative action in 1995 created the need for a high school outreach project in the region. Originally established to serve the youth of the West Los Angeles Area and provide an alternative approach to higher education, the project began serving youth at Venice, Santa Monica, Hamilton and University High Schools. Since then, the project has grown and is currently serving high school youth from Hamilton, Inglewood, Animo Inglewood and City Honors High Schools. In 2001 Community and Labor Coordinator Gabriel Perez helped incorporate the social justice component in RYEP by organizing the United Youth of Aztlan through the Raza Youth Conference. Under the leadership of Eligio Martinez, the first RYEP Project Director in the Mesa, the project began incorporating a higher education awareness component by taking students to northern California and southern California college tours. In addition the first Winter retreat was organized that same year to work around community issues and grassroots organizing. Since then the project has been geared towards providing an approach to higher education through community empowerment, organizing and instilling a Chicana/o community perspective to higher education.
United Youth of Aztlán In the Spring of 2000, high school students at the Raza Youth Conference gathered and had a discussion about the conditions at their high schools. As a result, students continued meeting throughout the fall at UCLA and established the Westside Youth Coalition. WYC started as a coalition of students from Venice, Santa Monica and LACES, shortly after students decided to change the name to the United Youth of Aztlan to be more representative of themselves and recognizing the land where they are at, and also to incorporate youth from other areas.
In the Summer of 2001, in conjunction with MEChA de UCLA, the United Youth of Aztlan held its first annual Leadership Retreat in Rancho de la Paz in Deming, New Mexico. Before New Mexico UYA would stop by Tona Tierra in Phoenix Arizona to learn about indigenous history and spiritual cleansing in the sweat lodge. It was in this week long summer retreat that the coalition began to tackle issues such as standardized testing, military recruitment in communities of color and identity issues amongst youth of color. At the conclusion of the retreat, UYA had expanded to 10 schools and stretched out as far as the San Fernando Valley, Southeast Los Angeles, and the South Bay area. As a result of the retreat, youth started making a bigger presence in the MEChA external level and in their communities.The coalition once included 15 schools from all 6 areas in Los Angeles which also established the North East LA UYA. UYA students have worked and created mentorship programs and events at their high schools that promote cultural pride and their heritage.
Most importantly, students that have been active in UYA have moved on to college and have worked for the betterment of their community.
Where are we now?
We currently serve students from 2 high schools in the area: Yolotzonyo brings students to UCLA on Thursdays odd weeks, beginning Week 3 (Weeks 3, 5, 7, & 9). We present students with cultural, educational, and political workshops, learning segments and team builders to raise consciousness and give students a space to work on their plan of action. Volunteer meetings are on even weeks, beginning Week 2 (Weeks 2, 4, 6, & 8). Every meeting is held in SAC Conference Room 5.
Raza Youth Empowerment Coordinator Administrative Director Site Coordinator Site Coordinator Financial Director Financial Director Volunteer Coordinator Media Coordinator
How can you get involved?
RYEP is always looking for motivated volunteers and drivers! Volunteer meetings are on Thursdays (even weeks) at 6:00pm and site is on Thursdays (odd weeks) from 6:00-8:00pm. Have any questions? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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