As more local young people are entering the workforce for the first time, many are finding it difficult to find employment in part because of their lack of work experience. One possible solution to their problem are programs that help train teenagers in skill development and leadership. The Sacramento Building Healthy Communities project has provided support for a wide variety of programs that are aimed at preparing young people to civically engage in their own communities. A newly released report by the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity took a look at these programs to analyze their compositions and how young people are being affected by it.

For the report, fifty five young people who actively participated in local BHC programs were surveyed. Most of these youth come  from a low-income background and only few have a parent with a bachelor degree. Latino youths make up more than half of the participants, followed by African Americans, and then Asian-Pacific Islander and White youth. The survey found that this racial makeup is also reflective and representative of the overall South Sacramento population at large.

Programs like those at the La Familia Counseling Center claim that “The community is our [their] top priority,” and Sol Collective seeks to “provide artistic, cultural, and educational programming, promote social justice, and empower youth through art, activism, music, and media experience.”

“Youth also commonly reported an increased understanding of health or other community issues (47%), and an improved ability to speak in public (45%),” according to the report.

From what the survey gathered, it seems that these programs are achieving their mission statements. Young people who are participating in their programs are learning through mentors with hands-on experience on how to better themselves and by extension, their community. These programs provide a place where the youth can engage in different cultures as well help them to participate in civic engagement.

South Sacramento is considered by many as the lower economic area of Sacramento. These youth programs offer opportunities that are very much needed in some of these communities, and could be responsible for producing the next generation of community advocates and leaders as a result.