Charity Helps At-Risk Youth
Mario Fedelin of Big Citizen HUB is working with at risk youth in the Los Angeles area to expand their social capital, enabling them succeed.
Recently, I caught up with Mario for a quick interview to learn more about his crowdfunding campaign on Razoo.
What is the social benefit you hope to achieve with or through your crowdfunding campaign?
The mission of Big Citizen HUB is to build a community of Big Citizens, expanding the social capital of youth through curiosity, gratitude, team and adventure.
Big Citizen HUB is a Saturday youth leadership development and skills building program that runs from January through August, uniting young people from all over the Los Angeles area. It is a little league for civic action; a space for young people to transform into Big Citizens and practice “daily democracy.” As these Big Citizens work together with community members and near-peer team leaders, they expand their networks and create value for not only themselves, but also the community at large.
How much money are you hoping to raise and why? How much have you raised so far?
Our goal is to raise $25,000 to help with start-up costs, leverage for larger long-term gifts from foundations and individuals, engage our supporters, and introduce our brand to the greater Los Angeles area. We have currently raised $11,584.
Whom are you trying to help with your project and why?
In 2015, Big Citizen HUB will launch with 75 middle school participants (Big Citizens), coming together from all over Los Angeles (with an emphasis on Boyle Heights, West LA, South LA, Watts and Pico Union). In this first year we anticipate about 80% of Big Citizens coming from low income families, with a racial breakdown as follows: 55% Latino, 10% Asian, 15% African American, 15% Caucasian, and 5% multiracial.
Increasingly, Americans, particularly young people, are losing faith in public institutions. This is evidenced in low voter turnout, high school graduation and volunteer rates. A disengaged population quickly becomes a disenfranchised population. Specifically in Los Angeles, there are several related problems plaguing adolescents, including low overall academic achievement, gang violence, a lack of programs geared for middle school students, and racial and socioeconomic divides in the city. The large-scale challenges – social, environmental, economic – facing our globally connected world will require local, person-to-person participation and solutions. Adolescence is a key strategic time to engage youth in leadership, civic engagement and service initiatives – after which welfare dependency, limited productivity, and other social problems become life patterns for those who are not engaged.
Working in the field of education and youth development, we noticed there’s a gap – there are not many organizations bringing youth together from all parts of the city. When you look at what it takes to be successful in the workplace, hard skills are certainly important. But what’s equally important, and what often makes one person a better leader, is the ability to collaborate, solve problems, think critically, and communicate with others. Those skills can only be fully honed when one has the opportunity to work with and learn from those who have different backgrounds than their own. As we learn to relate to others and build meaningful relationships with those who are different from ourselves, we become able to see things from many perspectives, alter our style of communication to be most effective in various situations, and work successfully on all kinds of teams. People who can do these things well become great leaders in their workplace, as well as our communities. Most leadership theorists believe that the skills critical for effective leadership, including the capacity to understand and interact with others, are developed most deeply in adolescence and young adulthood. Big Citizen HUB is providing the space necessary for young people to convene and practice engagement with diverse groups of peers.
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