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Youth At the Center Proposal

2020 Vision for Youth Justice

How do you define visionary & what is visionary about your work/proposal?

Visionary means dreaming beyond the horizon: When we dream beyond the confines of our current realities and "constraints" and stoke the imagination and the flame of hope in others' hearts. This is why our organization is dedicated to investing in the leadership of young people -- young people refuse to be told "this is just the way it is", "this is the way things work", as young people we still listen to our hearts and our yearnings and are brave enough to demand more from the world. We need vision to find a path out of this mess into something better for us all. We need the leadership of our youth. The work of our organization is to train, mentor, and follow the young leaders whose visions shatters the ceilings of what adult-led institutions deem feasible.

Funding will support:

1) Youth and parent leadership development training programs
Programs like our El Puente Leadership Academy and Abriendo Puertas annual leadership academy which are visionary because they are an investment in our people and our movement. Given the space to explore, deepen, and articulate our lived experience, build concrete organizing skills, learn from participatory political education, and build relationships of solidarity and support - our communities have the ability to create solutions and organize to hold our institutions accountable and push for systemic change. Our leadership development programs support young people as they explore the systemic social and environmental challenges their generation has inherited, explore their voices and gifts, and strategize together about how to create transformative change.

Check out what our young leaders are creating throughout the rest of this site: YUCCA's (Youth United for Climate Crisis Action) Climate Emergency Campaign is the outcome of the El Puente Leadership Academy we hosted in 2019 -- look at what our young leaders are accomplishing.

2) Community Development campaigns led by our community.
This year we are working on the next phase of the Southside Youth Center -- demanding that the City honor the leadership of our youth to drive the project's development. 

3) The Mutualista Network - a solidarity network responding to the COVID-19 crisis with over 1,200 members from northern New Mexico. Including our #Sharemycheck resource redistribution campaign.  

4) Public Policy Campaigns - that drive institutional change in creative ways that also education the public using tactics as diverse as civil disobedience. Here's a list of things we are currently working at in the current legislative session.

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Our work at YUCCA (Youth United for Climate Crisis Action) is focused on the climate crisis - a truly existential threat for our generation and all generations coming after us. Our work for climate justice is visionary because it is about reckoning with the painful truth about what extraction, domination, and exploitation has done to the world. It demands that we face the devastating reality that this way of living and the systems we have built (based on colonization, capitalism, and imperialism) threaten to destroy life on Earth.  And have created unimaginable pain and suffering through conquest and violence.

Our work is visionary because we are demanding intergenerational justice and that we are given the opportunity to live and heal and rebuild society from the ground up -- from the ashes.  and here is a video we made to help get out the VOTE in our Spanish speaking community - ahead of November's historic election.

We wanted to share this piece by YUCCA co-founder and Steering Committee Member Yang Toledo. We worked with the National Sunrise Movement who produced this short video with us. Yang speaks about the Vision of her and her fellow leaders' work through YUCCA and in connection to national and international youth and intergenerational movements for climate justice.

Below we share a series our leaders in YUCCA developed this summer in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter work called "The Road to Abolition". The series brought movement and thought leaders together to discuss strategies like Defunding the Police, the history of abolition, Divestment & Reinvestment, the School to Prison Pipeline, Voter Disenfranchisement, etc. 

In the 3rd Installment of our webinar series, YUCCA and Walk The Talk are co-hosting "The Road To Abolition" a panel discussion on how Santa Fe as a community can go forward on a path to abolishing the military industrial complex and dismantling institutional racism. We're honored to be hosting Attiana Virella-Fuentes, Miguel Acosta, Bekah Wolf, Lyla June Johnston and David Correia as our panelists.

Here's one we did on the School to Prison Pipeline:

What are the core values that drive your work? What will be different as a result of your work?

  • BIPOC-led

  • Culturally and Linguistically Relevant

  • Nothing about us without us

  • Youth and Community Centered & Led

  • Intergenerational

  • Dignity and Asset-based

  • Decolonizated & Grounded in Place

  • Ecologically Reverent & Respectful

  • Intersectional

  • Designed for Collective Empowerment & Liberation

  • Solidarity & Movement Building Focused

  • Transformational -- no status quo lovin here

  • Showing Up with Our Full Selves for Healing & Wellness & Beloved Community

  • Equity centered

  • Striving for Justice & Accountability


We believe that the strength of our movement depends on the civic infrastructure and leadership & organizing capacity of our communities. For us, youth are at the center of this practice. Rather than address issues - we try to understand issues as symptoms of larger systemic and structural problems. In order to get at the institutional, cultural, and intergenerational roots - we think its absolutely critical to have an intersectional approach.

Which is why our organization is focused on civic leadership, community organizing, and movement building rather than a single issue. Social, economic, and environmental issues are addressed simultaneously and every single campaign strives to achieve the best results in all the areas, always. We see that so many of the issues our communities face are a result of systemic oppression and material poverty -- so when we think about JUSTICE -- for us - we believe we should never have a conversation about "criminal justice" without talking about income inequality, poverty, exploitation, intergenerational disinvestment, oppression, and the trauma that is inflicted. We should always talk about opportunity, investment, behavioral health resources, educational resources, and opportunities for our communities' leadership and vision for ourselves. 

We believe in the abolition of racist and oppressive institutions because we believe in our communities' ability to create better models - that honor our dignity, gifts, and potential for healing and justice and love.

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