Youth Summit

Youth Summit empowers hundreds of Inland area teens

UCR event teaches high school students how to participate civic affairs

February 13, 2023
Author: David Danelski
February 13, 2023

About 350 Inland Empire high school students participated in the SoCal Youth Futures Summit at the University of California, Riverside, where they envisioned what they wanted for their futures and outlined steps to achieve their visions.

The event on Feb. 10 featured townhall type talks by elected officials, including California Assembly members Corey Jackson and Sabrina Cervantes, and U.S. Congress Representative Mark Takano. It was hosted by UCR’s Center for Social Innovation and the California 100 initiative. 

But the real stars were the students, such as Jessica Rayland, 17, a junior at Middle College High School in San Bernardino. She believes schools should do more to address mental health. While some schools have wellness centers for students dealing with mental health issues, others do not. “Is the problem space, funding, or staff? I am trying to find out so we can inform the school board,” she said.

Event organizers facilitated student breakout groups to help students prepare vision manifestos detailing what changes they wanted to see in the areas of education, the environment, health, civic engagement, community safety, and housing and transportation. They were also asked to write down their dreams for the future. Their ideas went onto postcards to be sent to the governor, members of Congress, and the state legislature. 

The students came from 17 area high schools in Moreno Valley, Riverside, and San Bernardino unified school districts. A follow-up event to promote the students’ ideas will be held next month on the Capitol lawn in Sacramento. 

The SoCal Youth Futures Summit was co-designed and led by Fatima Nelson and Eric Calderon, staff members at the Center for Social Innovation, which is operated out of UCR’s School of Public Policy. The California 100 initiative is a sponsored project at the University of California and Stanford University, with UCR public policy professor Karthick Ramakrishnan serving as its executive director.