L.A. stories of inspiration and success

L.A. stories of inspiration and success

Para Los Niños and YouthSource logos
EWDD currently operates 14 YouthSource Centers (YSCs) that provide young Angelenos ages 16-24 life-changing services in underserved neighborhoods throughout the City and at no cost.

Below are three inspiring stories of change from Para Los Niños (PLN), which operates the Northeast and Central LA YouthSource Centers.

Fernando, Para Los Niños YouthSource participant Back in School, Moving Toward a Tech Career

Fernando, 18, enrolled in PLN’s YouthSource program for support in obtaining his high school diploma. In 2015, he came to the U.S. from El Salvador to seek a better life. As a new student in a new country, Fernando experienced a lot of bullying while learning English and adapting to his new surroundings. With time, Fernando joined different organizations around the City and volunteered in food drives in MacArthur Park and Skid Row. But during high school, Fernando said that he started hanging out with bad influences who steered him away from graduating.

Now, Fernando is taking things more seriously. He enrolled in the PLN YSC program, where he receives case management, supportive services, and academic support. His career advisor helped Fernando register at the East Los Angeles Skill Center, where he is working towards obtaining his high school diploma. Fernando is only six classes away from completing his secondary education and plans on applying to college once he finishes.

In the meantime, Fernando also signed up for the Delete the Divide program at PLN, where he is working towards a certification in Google Project Management. Fernando has made significant progress in less than a month, and PLN is excited to see what else he achieves.

Maggie, Para Los Niños YouthSource participant From Instability to a Career in Health Care

Since high school, Maggie, 21, has been involved with YouthSource. Her high school counselor first referred Maggie to PLN when her family was involved with the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS). With guidance from the YouthSource Center, Maggie enrolled in Hire LA’s Youth internship program. She also received support from PLN’s family services department to help her and her siblings through the tough time they were experiencing.

After high school, Maggie remained connected with PLN. When she found herself struggling in community college, she reached out to PLN for support. Since she graduated high school, Maggie has been financially responsible for herself, often working up to three different part-time jobs to make ends meet.

Despite the challenges Maggie has faced with stable housing and complicated family dynamics, she has kept her focus on her educational goals. Maggie has been forced to extend her time in community college since she has been unable to attend full-time and work. The PLN YSC helped Maggie enroll in Mayor Garcetti’s Angeleno Corps Program, which provides hands-on work experience and educational support for young Angelenos ages 18-24. Participants work part-time and earn $1,000 per month, which has provided Maggie with financial stability. She was able to leave one of her part-time jobs and focus more of her time on school.

Through the Angeleno Corps Program, Maggie has gained experience in the healthcare field. She currently works at Clinica Romero, where she helps ensure individuals have access to COVID testing and vaccinations. In the future, Maggie hopes to become a physical therapist specializing in sports medicine.

Stephanie, Para Los Niños YouthSource participant From Probation to Higher Education

Stephanie joined PLN’s YouthSource program because she wanted to change her life and find opportunities for growth. She was struggling in school and was involved in the justice system. The court assigned her to community services, and her probation officer referred her to PLN. There, Stephanie enrolled in the YSC’s College and Career Readiness Program.

Before joining the YSC, Stephanie did not plan to complete high school. Now, she has her diploma and is interested in becoming a Spanish translator. Stephanie is currently attending East Los Angeles College, where she is pursuing a degree in Administration of Justice and Spanish.

Stephanie has also received other services, including intensive case management, academic guidance, exposure to post-secondary education, professional attire for job interviews and transportation support. The YSC has connected Stephanie with several paid internships through Hire LA’s Youth, where she learned skills that allowed her to secure a receptionist position at East Los Angeles College’s Reading and Writing Center. Stephanie said she is so grateful for the opportunities provided by PLN and feels that the YSC has become a safe and welcoming space for her.

Learn more about the many programs and benefits offered to the young people of Los Angeles through EWDD Youth Services and their YouthSource Centers.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of April 18, 2022. Read this issue and more.

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