As we think about our children going back to school, we remember there are many families that face traumatic challenges as they start each new school year. Youth Rise Texas uplifts youth in the Austin area who have had a parent, caregiver or loved one incarcerated, detained or deported.
Their goal is to provide a place to heal from the trauma of separation, help kids find ways to take action and become advocates for shifting public policy, and ultimately cultivate compassionate communities. They help young people ages 15 – 20, working closely with high school teachers and administrators to identify youth in need of services.
This Summer, Youth Rise Texas provided a consciousness-raising leadership intensive called #StayWoke. For the first time, this year’s intensive was co-facilitated by three graduates of the program – a milestone for the organization.
“Our goal with #StayWoke is to help youth discover each other and realize there are others at school who have the same experiences. This is a place to talk about their lives, process their feelings and build camaraderie, while also learning about the societal conditions that lead to our country being the most incarcerated in the world. It puts their personal experience into context.” – Kymberlie Quong Charles, Deputy Director
Graduates of #StayWoke are automatically enrolled in one of two school-year programs offered by Youth Rise. The first, the Youth Organizing Institute, is an advanced leadership program where participants learn how to turn the consciousness-raising learning into action by organizing their peers in support circles. Their other program, the Mentored Youth Fellowship Program, partners youth participants with an adult mentor for the full year while they work on a community transformation project with partner organizations.
“Statistically our youth are at risk for lower rates of sustainable employment, college graduation rates and more. We want to empower them to make a plan and carry it out, to know that they can move towards the thing that inspires them and not be stuck by the debilitating effects from the trauma of what happens when a parent is incarcerated, detained or deported.” – Kymberlie Quong Charles, Deputy Director
As a Mission Capital member, Youth Rise Texas has participated in multiple events throughout the year. Kymberlie shares, “Our work is sensitive and political and can be divisive. We don’t always have the luxury of a timeline. We have to act and react. Mission Capital has helped us float in those moments when we didn’t know what to do.” As Youth Rise Texas has experienced rapid growth, they appreciated having a place to “think out loud”, while getting support and practical feedback.
If you’re interested in supporting the work of Youth Rise Texas, there are several ways to get involved. They’re currently recruiting adult mentors for the year and in the fall will launch their digital fundraiser. Contact Kymberlie Quong Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!