This website is closed

L.A. for Youth

Will we continue to be known as the place that LOCKS UP more youth than any other place in the world? Or will we build a DIFFERENT FUTURE?

L.A. for Youth is a  movement to build a positive future for LA’s youth.


We are advocating for:

Investment in the youth development infrastructure of Los Angeles, including the creation of a Youth Development Department for the County of Los Angeles and a coordinated network of youth centers with wrap around services

Redirection of resources from suppression strategies to prevention and intervention strategies

Youth employment opportunities that provide the skills needed for the future workforce


LA is responsible for raising its youth, but…

ticket1. Los Angeles leads the nation in many issues that are harmful to youth.

2. Los Angeles criminalizes many activities that are normal teen behaviors.

3. Los Angeles has a long history leading the world in detention and incarceration.

lockup4. Across the U.S. and around the world, many cities and counties see and treat youth differently.

A society that does not systemically and fully bring out the geniuses, creativity, and intelligence of our youth is contributing to the violence, crime, and suicides too many of our young people are currently embroiled in. It’s time for a reckoning. We need resources aligned to needs—more youth centers; drug and mental health treatment; health centers; arts and literacy training and presenting organizations; sports, music, and healthy recreation… not more suppression. Almost all funding in Los Angeles to address gangs, crime, and violence is for police, jails, probation camps, and more. But this is the back end of the problem. We need qualitatively more on the front end so there is little or no back end. The “back end” is now driving policies and our culture. Even our schools look like prisons. It’s safer, and far less costly, if we placed funds in our youth’s total well being, as well as funds for help to those young people already in trouble, than to build more prisons, lock-down more schools, and oil a suppression machine that generates itself with taxpayer funds. More bang for our buck? Put funding into mentorship, prevention, intervention, expanded education, and opportunities. You want to end crime? Give people the knowledge, tools, and resources so they can live.

Luis J. Rodriguez
Poet Laureate, City of Los Angeles


For the past ten years, LA’s youth – and youth all over the US – have had the lowest crime rates of any generation since the 1960s and have the lowest teen pregnancy and substance abuse rates of any generation since the 70s. Today’s generation has increased their graduation rates, sacrificed their lives on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, and led movements for college opportunities, immigrant and student rights. But from LA County to Sacramento to Wshington DC, funding is prioritized for police and prisons, while positive youth opportunities are bankrupted. For example, California is #1 in prison spending, but #49 in K-12 spending and #50 in spending for colleges and universities.



LA for Youth is a movement to push L.A. County Leaders to establish  a L.A. County Department for Youth Development with a priority to fund: 70 youth centers, 650 full time intervention workers (peacebuilders) in communities and schools, and 35,000 youth jobs and paid internships.

A redirection of at least 5% of funds spent on suppression (County Sheriffs, County Probation, District Attorney, Courts) would fund the initiative, recognizing that youth resources and opportunities are an essential and cost effective component of public safety. A County Department of Youth Development should be responsible for all youth services, including transferring all resources and responsibilities for Juvenile Probation – (field, juvenile halls and camps – under that department).

This is an alternative to youth suppression in LA County, builds healthier and more humanizing environment for our youth, one step closer to ending the school-to-jail track, helps keep LA students in schools and out of lock up, helps reduce street and police violence in our neighborhoods, provides jobs and sustainable positive places for our youth to work and get involved in their community, and could literally help save lives!


We encourage the Mayor and City Council of Los Angeles to envision Los Angeles as a place in which all youth have the opportunity to thrive. The following recommendations are steps to making this vision a reality, and how we can build a better future for L.A.’s youth:
1. Create a L.A. City Youth Development Department
2. Establish a YDD Youth Leadership Board
3. Provide an additional 15,000 Youth Jobs & Paid Internships
4. Fund 30 Youth Development Centers
5. Hire and Train 350 Community Interventionists/Peacebuilders
6. Use Votes and Influence on MTA Board to Provide Free Metro Passes to All L.A. Youth

Redirecting just 5% of its law enforcement spending to a Youth Development Department could fund 15,000 additional youth summer jobs, 350 additional peacebuilders/intervention workers, and 30 youth centers across the City. By redirecting a small portion of its law enforcement funding and establishing a Youth Development Department, Los Angeles would provide huge benefits to L.A.’s Youth. This would also substantially reduce the emotional and financial costs of crime and violence. The City would not need to raise any additional revenue or layoff any City personnel to provide these historic changes for L.A.’s youth, families and communities.

Key components of a Department for Youth Development would include:

Fundinga. A funding process that is open, accessible and transparent that provides youth development funding through an RFP (Request for Proposals) process with oversight by a community funding board that includes government officials, youth, parents and community-based organizations.

b. Funding and technical support for youth centers in communities throughout the county that would provide educational enrichment, arts, recreation and health programming for youth 6-24, as well as coordination of peacebuilding (intervention) and restorative transformative justice efforts in surrounding neighborhoods and schools, and youth employment training and placement.

c. Transfer of all Juvenile Probation (field, juvenile halls and camps) to the Youth Development Department to transform supports for youth who are arrested from punishment to progress.

trainingd. A training institute in partnership with a local community college and Cal State to establish certificate, undergraduate and graduate programs in intervention, transformative justice, youth development, youth and community organizing and non-profit management.

e. A peacebuilders’ roundtable to coordinate truce building, rumor control and inter-neighborhood relationship building among intervention workers in order to prevent street-based violence throughout the county.

skatef. Joint use agreements with school districts and city/county parks to maximize the use of existing spaces as effective and engaging community spaces.

g. Training and support for government agencies, schools and communities in establishing alternatives to suspension, expulsion, arrest, court, detention and incarceration, including the creation of safety plans that engage members of schools and communities in promoting and ensuring safe and positive environments.

researchh. Research, including data collection and analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs and to share lessons learned. All sub-contractors would be required to meet rigorous youth and community development outcomes in order to receive continued funding.

i. Co-located services with other community-based organizations and government agencies could provide additional supports for health/mental health, legal services, case management, etc.

j. A not-for-profit arm to solicit additional private, state and federal funding for the department and its programs.

k. Work with unions and community colleges to connect youth to training, certification and living wage careers.

l. The department would also engage youth, families and their allies in leadership development, organizing and advocacy to shape the future of youth development in the county and to contribute to the movement for positive youth work and youth rights across the state, nationally and internationally.

identitym. Support youth and young adults returning home from lock-ups and connect them to their communities. Ensure that everyone returning home from juvenile hall, Probation camp, county jail, the Division of Juvenile Justice, and state prison have the documents needed to access essential services and opportunities (housing, public assistance, education, employment, health care). These include a birth certificate, California ID, social security card, cumulative transcript, medical records and prescriptions. And, challenge discrimination convicted people have in accessing school, public assistance, housing, employment and employment.


Building a Better Future for the Youth of Los Angeles logo