Now serving fifty students, Youth in Action (YA!) began as a grassroots effort led by Elementary school teacher, Ms. Porthan, after she learned about the high dropout rates of Latino students. Ms. Porthan dreamed of a better future for her third grade Latino students and made a commitment to follow them until college to ensure their academic and future success. Her grassroots effort gained momentum and, after partnering with CLUES in 2009, the program began offering Leadership Institutes at Concordia University for the program's then twenty students and their parents. In 2010, CLUES partnered with Target Corporation’s Hispanic Business Council to further the program’s impact by providing continuous and individualized support through mentorship. Now, students are paired with individual coaches who are professionals in their field and understand what it takes to be successful in school. These professionals provide ongoing support in the students’ educational journey. In 2012, CLUES officially acquired this grassroots program with goals of enhancing and expanding the program to reach additional youth and provide them with the skills and guidance to be successful in college and beyond. In the transition, the current students participated in the renaming of the program, arriving at Youth in Action, or YA!, which means “Now!” in Spanish. The students wanted this name to represent their leadership in action against the statistics and the barriers facing them to achieve success. As the YA! program continues to grow, we have begun a new partnership with Hamline University and have been welcomed onto their campus for our monthly Coaching Institutes.
YA! is designed for Latino students ages 13-18. The program prepares students to graduate high school and supports them in pursuing higher education. Students in the YA! Program are matched with individual coaches who provide them with ongoing support in their educational journey. Together with their coaches, students in the YA! Program attend monthly Coaching Institutes at Hamline University that emphasize three key components: academic challenges, college preparation, and coaching role-models. To encourage students on their path to success, these institutes feature presentations and testimony by Latino leaders in the community, Latino college graduates, and even current Latino college students. Outside of the program, students and coaches maintain a supportive relationship focused on academic success, leadership skills, and achieving goals for the future.
New to the Youth in Action (YA!) Program this year is an exciting civic engagement component! This new addition to the program will orient YA! students to the systems and processes within their community, helping them to gain the knowledge, tools, and skills to increase their engagement and participation in civic activities within their communities. This component will bring the classroom learning to life through individual and group service-learning, volunteer, and internship opportunities, as well as a culminating student-led initiative to make a change in their community.
Through this collaborative model, the YA! Program: provides Latino families with consistent guidance as their students transition between high school and college; empowers parents as active partners in their student’s educational journey; gives students the support they need to achieve academic success; opens professional opportunities through internships and volunteer opportunities; and helps students realize their goals for the future through pursuit of higher education.
YA! Mission: Empowering Latino youth as future leaders in their communities by guiding them to achieve their academic goals, educational aspirations, and professional potential and equipping them with a network of peers, coaches, and parents in support of their educational journey and career path.
YA! Vision: Latino youth will graduate high school, complete post-secondary, and pursue a meaningful career path as they become future leaders in their communities and role models for the generations to come.
YA! Purpose: Supporting Latino youth to overcome barriers to success and break the cycle of generational poverty through the pursuit of higher education.
Outcome I: Latino students are prepared with the skills to navigate the higher education system and motivated by personal goals for the future to seek a post-secondary degree.
Outcome II: Latino students are equipped with an individual coach who will support their academic progress, their achievement of goals for the future, and their development as a leader.
Outcome III: Latino parents increase participation in their children’s education through engagement at school and educational support at home.
Outcome IV: Youth will learn how policies and laws are made and enforced and that, in a democracy, the people’s voices contribute to this process. Civic knowledge and participation will empower students to envision solutions, to advocate for change, and to participate in creating real and lasting improvements in their families, communities, and beyond.
Interested in becoming a YA! Coach? View the full position description here.