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Recovery and Beyond: Youth Organizing for a Better and More Equitable Future

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 -
10:00am to 11:30am PDT
Zoom Meeting
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Young people are the keepers of our future and when they are organized, they are a force to be reckoned with. In 2019, a network of foundations and individual donors who value the role of youth organizing in creating and advancing more equitable, just, and effective social, economic, and political systems came together to launch the Northern California Youth Organizing Funders Collaborative. Since our launch, our Phase 1 activities included hosting field design sessions with youth leaders and organizers and granting 500K in general operating funds to 25 youth organizing groups in the Bay Area through a participatory grantmaking process.

We are now moving into Phase 2 of our collaborative and welcome your interest and participation. Join us for a keynote address from Lateefah Simon of the Akonadi Foundation on the importance of youth organizing as a regional equity strategy in COVID-19 recovery and beyond, and hear from a community panel of youth leaders and organizers on their vision for the future and how funders can be partners in the work. The importance of cultivating a powerful youth organizing ecosystem with shared strategies to engage more young people, expand power, and address pressing issues cannot be overstated, and the need for investment and partnership could not be greater. We hope you can join us in organizing towards a more equitable future.

Through this program, we will:

  • Increase visibility and emphasize the importance of youth organizing as a regional equity strategy in COVID-19 recovery and beyond.
  • Share the vision, goals, and intentions of the Northern California Youth Organizing Funders Collaborative.
  • Present learnings and insights from our Phase 1 activities and recent field design session with youth leaders and organizers.
  • Announce our Phase 2 strategy and timeline.
  • Outline opportunities for funder involvement and engagement.


Ofelia Bello, Executive Director, YUCA
Ofelia was born and raised in East Palo Alto and is a graduate of the Ravenswood School District and Eastside College Prep. She also earned her bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Barbara in Sociology, U.S. History, and Sociocultural Linguistics and a master’s degree from the University of San Francisco in Urban and Public Affairs. 

Ofelia has a background in urban planning and public policy, with expertise and a specific interest in community development and housing. Her racial, ethnic, and socio-economic background drives Ofelia’s passion for working in intergenerational coalitions with people of color from low-income backgrounds. Ofelia believes successfully stabilizing the communities most vulnerable to housing, economic, and climate displacement is pivotal for transforming cities into healthy, fun, well-connected places where legacy residents have the opportunity to thrive. Ofelia currently sits on the East Palo Alto Planning Commission, chairs the Pahali Community Land Trust board of directors, sits on the Joan Platt YMCA managers board, and is a board member on the California Community Land Trust Network. 

Tessa Callejo, Senior Program Officer, San Francisco Foundation
Tessa is a Senior Program Officer for the Power Pathway at the San Francisco Foundation (SFF).In her current role Tessa develops and implements grantmaking strategies and provides leadership in SFF’s youth and intergenerational power building, civic engagement, community organizing, and immigrant and refugee rights work. She brings decades of expertise in the fields of community organizing, policy advocacy, immigrant rights, and affordable housing to her work with SFF. For more than twenty years Tessa was a staff lead for the FAITHS Program, SFF’s civic engagement and capacity building program serving hundreds of faith and community-based organizations in the Bay Area. She also managed SFF’s Immigrant Integration grantmaking, and provided leadership on community organizing, civic engagement, and policy initiatives related to that portfolio. In her prior role, she oversaw SFF’s grantmaking for Census 2010 and most recently was SFF’slead for Census 2020grantmaking and strategy development. Tessa is also currently a co-chair of the statewide funders’ roundtable, the California Immigrant Integration Initiative, which is hosted by the Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees.
Christina "Krea" Gomez, Director of Local Initiatives, Young Women’s Freedom Center
Christina "Krea" Gomez is the Director of Local Initiatives for the Young Women’s Freedom Center (YWFC). Krea started her journey as a community organizer while a youth at YWFC many years ago. She believes deeply in the power of youth and has spent many years creating space for them to lead and create change in their communities. Krea came back to YWFC in 2017. Prior to her return, she served as a teacher and Dean of Students at the North Oakland Community Charter School (NOCCS). Krea has over 20 years of experience in youth development, community organizing, restorative justice, and program management. 
Xochtil M Larios, Program Associate, CURYJ’s Youth Justice Program
Xochtil Larios is a 21 years young college student and 2018 recipient of the California Endowment 2018 Youth Award as a Community Champion. She served as the youngest fellow with the Peer-to-Peer Initiative through the Community Justice Network for Youth Program of the Burns Institute. She is also a vital youth commissioner on the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Commission.
Ms. Larios is an accomplished and relentless community activist and leader. She works in the trenches of local grassroots mobilizing, the laboratory of regional program development and execution, and the progressive planning of national restorative justice reform.
As CURYJ’s Youth Justice Program Associate, Ms. Larios brings her own innovative Youth Transformation Curriculum to detained juvenile offenders, and a respected researcher and advisor in Dream Beyond Bars justice system transformation recommendations. 
Albert Maldonado, Senior Program Manager, The California Endowment
Albert Maldonado is Senior Program Manager tasked with developing and managing The California Endowment’s cross-cutting Youth Power & Youth Development Strategy and Portfolio. The Endowment’s approach to youth engagement expands beyond traditional notions of “youth development” by supporting a youth organizing framework and approach to address issues of race, power, and equity as part of young people's socio-political development and agency. Albert has played a key role in building grant-making strategies and incubating organizations to support youth-organizing and civic engagement, youth-voice, youth-healing, and youth-participatory action research at the local and statewide levels with an emphasis on low-income, marginalized communities for The California Endowment.
Amy Price, Program Executive, Zellerbach Family Foundation
Amy Price has been Program Executive at the Zellerbach Family Foundation (ZFF) since 2011. She managesZFF’sImproving Human Service Systems program, which supports advocacy, organizing, innovation, and strategic coalition-building to promote a more equitable, effective, and community-driven approach to child and youth well-being in the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to ZFF, Amy spent 18 years as Senior Research Associate and Associate Director for the National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center at the University of California at Berkeley where she focused on policies and practices to address perinatal substance use andHIVacross the country. She also worked with a local public-private partnership to help develop and evaluate a shared family care program for families involved in the child welfare system. Previously, Amy served as a fellow for the Maryland Governor’s interagency Office on Children, Youth and Families and as an advisory consultant to the California Department of Social Services.  Amy sits on numerous boards and advisory committees and is a lifelong learner. Her formal education includes a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Social Work from Skidmore College.
Lateefah Simon, President, Akonadi Foundation

Lateefah Simon (she/her) is a nationally recognized advocate for civil rights and racial justice in Oakland and the Bay Area. She has been the President of Akonadi Foundation since 2016. That same year—driven by the death of Oscar Grant—she was elected to the Bay Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors; she now serves as President. Lateefah is also a member of California State University’s Board of Trustees, and state officials often turn to her for strategic advice on policy matters related to racial justice. Lateefah received the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award in 2003—making her at the time the youngest woman to receive the award —in recognition of her work as Executive Director of the Young Women’s Freedom Center.

Lateefah previously served as Program Director at the Rosenberg Foundation, where she launched the Leading Edge Fund to seed, incubate, and accelerate bold ideas from the next generation of progressive movement leaders in California. She also held the position of Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she launched successful community-based initiatives, including the Second Chance Legal Services Clinic. Lateefah spearheaded San Francisco’s first reentry anti-recidivism youth services division, under the leadership of then-District Attorney Kamala Harris. Before serving in this role, Lateefah became—at the age of 19—the Executive Director of the Center for Young Women’s Development (now named the Young Women’s Freedom Center), a position she held for 11 years.

Arianna Quetzal Vargas, Student, Arizona State University
Arianna Quetzal Vargas (she, her, ella), is a 24-year-young doctoral student in the Sociology department at Arizona State University. She was born and raised in San Francisco, California. She received her B.S in Public Health and Double Majored in Latino/a studies and Minored in Education at San Francisco State University. She received her Masters in Ethnic Studies also at San Francisco State University. She has conducted research on healing spaces within Bay Area Mercados and how those spaces are forms of resistance and resilience in the midst of gentrification. She is currently focusing her research on how communities heal from state carceral violence.
Target Audience

This program is open to NCG members and nonmember funders.


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