Giving Compass' Take:

• The Smithsonian Latino Center's Young Ambassadors Program strives to empower young Latinos to create community initiatives. 

• Are there on-going community support groups or systems in your area that work to inspire young people to speak up?

• This is an especially topical issue as Latinx youth face prejudice in the criminal justice system. 

Many alumni refer to Smithsonian Latino Center’s Young Ambassadors Program (SLC YAP) as “nuestra familia” or “our family”, because of the intergenerational lifelong friendship and guidance alumni offer each other. Its mission is to foster the next generation of Latino leaders in the arts, sciences, and humanities through networks of support.

YAP started in 2006 as a five-week-long summer internship for recent high school graduates with the goal of advancing education equity for Latinos. Three years later, it evolved into a college and early career development network.

Our long-term commitment to young people, however, did not come from the onset of YAP but is the result of thirteen years of program development co-created with its alumni. In the process, we have learned that if we really want youth programs to impact communities, we need to empower young people to co-create these initiatives and offer opportunities to practice what it means to be a community conscious leader.

By offering support to other college-bound Latinos, YAP’s alumni start practicing what it means to be community conscious leaders as civically engaged people who make choices and take action not just for their own benefit but also their community.

Read the full article about transforming Latino youth from the NAEA Museum Education at Medium.