Jathan Melendez was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. Growing up, he witnessed the pressures of gangs, gang violence and poverty throughout his neighborhood and the negative impact it had on the people in his community. Aspiring to have a positive impact, Jathan began his journey in 2012 with Community Coalition (CoCo) as a youth leader with South Central Youth Empowered Through Action (SCYEA). .After participating in CoCo’s Youth Leadership Academy and taking part in the “Equity is Justice” Campaign, he began to understand the huge impact of disinvestment in the schools he attended and the community in which he lived. This led to his continuing to fight for educational justice with Coco and the Brother’s, Sons Selves Coalition.
After graduating from Manual Arts High School and South Central Youth Empowered Through Action, Jathan went off to California State University Los Angeles with ambition and the determination to graduate and come back to his community in order to keep fighting for equity and justice. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Jathan stayed true to his goal. He was given the opportunity to participate in CoCo’s 2020 Youth Organizing Fellowship. His time as a Fellow played an integral role in deciding that being an organizer at Community Coalition was exactly where he needed to be.
Fun fact: Jathan is a Leo and if he could choose to be an actual lion, he definitely would.