Next Generation of Leaders Recognized at Community Coalition’s 2020 Youth Organizing Fellowship Culmination Ceremony

06 Nov Next Generation of Leaders Recognized at Community Coalition’s 2020 Youth Organizing Fellowship Culmination Ceremony

Community Coalition (CoCo) will celebrate a diverse group of dedicated individuals who have completed a rigorous fellowship, contributing to moving the efforts of social justice forward. On November 13, 2020, the cohort of 14 Fellows, including 2 Honorary Fellows from Brotherhood Crusade, will be recognized for their commitment to CoCo’s priority to transform Black and Brown communities’ social and economic conditions and advance equity and opportunity. 

“I’m merging my knowledge into action. My civic engagement is valued, and I want to share what I’ve learned with my community,” states Davona Watson, who is a 2020 Fellow. 

The group will be recognized for its successful completion of an intensive 7-week training working alongside veteran organizers experienced in the theory of social change, the art and science of youth organizing, and have a broad knowledge of base-building efforts with youth in South Los Angeles. The training represents CoCo’s distinctive model of leadership development and power building to improve the material conditions of communities at the grassroots level. Coming from across the state and country, this next generation of leaders of social change includes:

•     Alyx Romero –Photographer, Social Justice Activist, Jiu-Jitsu Trainer

•     Armando Peña--CoCo Youth Alum, Humboldt State Student Activist

•     Davona Watson–CoCo Youth Alum, Cal State LA Scholar, Vegan Chef

•     Destiny Moore –Performing Artist, Social Justice Activist, Stockton Native

•     Ian Taylor— Retention Coordinator, UCLA Alum, DJ 

•     Harold Lloyd–Actor, Activist, Poet

•     Jathan Melendez –CoCo Youth Alum, Community Activist, CalState LA Poli Sci Grad

•     Jeffrey Hines –Brotherhood Crusade Mentor, South Central Native, Public Allies Alum

•     Mariluz Tejeda-Leon–Yale Student, Organizer, Music Lover

•     Marquel Reid–Brotherhood Crusade’s Youth Organizing Coordinator, LA Native, Published Poet

•     Nyereath Nhial–Mental Health Advocate, Community Servant, Avid Candle Collector

•     Ryan Bell--CoCo Youth Alum, Morehouse Grad, Master’s of Public Service Student

•     Saraia Driver–Arkansas Native, UCLA Alum, Philosopher

•     Whisper Torres–East Oakland Native, UCLA Double Major, Dance Aficionado

The Fellows learned youth organizing through field practice, where they applied power-building strategies that address the root causes of poverty, mass incarceration, and the school-to-prison pipeline. “It’s so powerful to be able to amplify people’s power to change things around them. South LA wants to thrive, not just survive. CoCo is paving the way for a lot of organizations to dream and dream big. We’re all putting our best foot forward, and it’s a powerful thing to subscribe to. It’s something that will outlast you and me,” explains Armando Peña.

Most of the Fellowship’s engagement was done virtually due to COVID-19’s Safer-at-Home orders and required creative digital youth organizing approaches. With that said, the 2020 Fellows facilitated political education and skills development sessions with youth leaders and activists through digital programming and phone banking to mobilize South LA youth into key organizing activities, including a virtual youth convening spotlighting CoCo’s current policy battles. 

“Something that makes me feel better about what I do is that I’m going to leave a better place for my sisters and brothers. I live for my people and create change for generations,” Destiny Moore says of her experience. 

Special guests for the event include Keith Weaver, Executive Vice President, Global Policy and External Affairs, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), who helped the Community Coalition raise funds toward building a permanent institution for training community organizers. Weaver will deliver remarks to the Fellows and Roque Armenta, from Power California, will serve as the keynote speaker. CoCo’s esteemed faculty and Board members will also be in attendance as well as the 2020 Fellows’ family and friends.

For more info about Community Coalition’s 2020 Youth Organizing Fellowship cohort, please visit  the Our Fellows page at www.cocosouthla.org.

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