The LA Assemblywoman and State Lawmakers Worked With Students and Young People from Empowerment Collective Member Organizations in a Collaborative Fashion Since Early in the Legislative Session In Order To Involve Youth Voices in Their Policy Making
- Unai Montes-Irueste
- Communications Director
(Sacramento, CA) — Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) helped kick-off the press conference launching the Empowerment Collective’s inaugural policy slate of 38 youth-led bills that address civic engagement, mental health, menstrual equity, racial justice, higher education, child welfare, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Empowerment Collective runs in partnership with the California Association of Student Councils, Generation Up, California Youth Connection, the San Francisco Youth Commission, the California Student Board Member Association, and the Junior State of America. Assemblywoman Carrillo was joined by several other California legislators, including Assemblymembers Luz M. Rivas, Lorena Gonzalez, Robert Rivas, and Cristina Garcia, as well as Senators Anthony Portantino, Scott Wiener, and Steve Glazer.
“Half of all lifetime mental health needs emerge before age 14; three-quarters before 24. 1,240,000 of California’s K-12 students already needed regular mental health services before COVID-19. The pandemic deepened this crisis by both increasing need, making it less visible, and compounding the inequities that Black and Brown youth disproportionately face. That’s why I am so proud to work with the members of the Empowerment Collective to pass AB 573 and AB 748, so young Californians will have a seat at the table where decisions about mental health policy are made, and so kids and teens will always know how to access the resources they need,” said Assemblywoman Carrillo. “The COVID-19 pandemic led to a 300% rise in single-use plastics waste. Since only 9% of plastics waste is recycled, AB 1276 is an important step to significantly reduce plastic waste that pollutes our environment, harms marine, terrestrial, and aviary wildlife, and hurts people – disproportionately low income communities of color – while simultaneously providing financial savings to restaurants, who no longer have to pay to provide single use plastic utensils, unless they are requested, and local governments, who no longer have to pay to clean them up,” she added.
"The Empowerment Collective is an impressive group of young people fighting for change on deeply important issues that will impact future generations. I am proud to stand with them today, as we work together on initiatives that will benefit California's youth. My legislation, SB 234: The SUPPORT Act, will provide more funding so transition aged youth can access housing. This is one piece of the puzzle of how we can support young people, and I look forward to our work together on this legislation and more,” said Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).
“Our school kids need our help. Too many are falling through the cracks, especially as they have had to navigate through all the emotional complexities that the pandemic has created. Social isolation, a lack of human contact, remote schooling and other issues have added to the already growing mental health issues school kids confront today. [SB 21] is one small step to bringing greater awareness to mental health and greater funding for services that help young Californians dealing with a mental illness,” said Senator Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa).
“It’s critical that we listen to the needs of young people and address the mental health crisis facing today’s youth. Millions of Californians, including at least 1 in 5 students, live with mental health challenges. Even before the pandemic, the rate of students struggling with mental health problems such as depression has steadily risen over the years. Whether it’s providing our kids mental health education from a young age or offering mental health training for students and educators, we can end the stigma surrounding the discussion of mental health and help our children succeed. I applaud the Empowerment Collective for shedding light on these important issues and providing students an opportunity to amplify their voices,” said Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge).
“Often periods arrive at inconvenient times and dealing with our period means pausing whatever we are doing. Having convenient and free access to these products means our biology won’t prevent us from being productive members of society. AB 367, simply prioritizes a basic human need of half the population that menstruates and ensures increased public access to menstrual products,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens).
“We often say that our youth are the leaders of tomorrow, but frankly, they need to have a seat at the table now so they can lead today too. AB 46 establishes a new Youth Empowerment Commission to involve California’s youth in policy making decisions, giving younger generations a larger role in the legislative process. We cannot afford to keep sidelining young Californians from critical decisions, especially when we need fresh and innovative ideas to tackle the mountain of policy issues affecting California,” said Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-Arleta).
“I am proud to be leading a $6.3 million budget request on behalf of the California Association of Student Councils that would fund a statewide civic engagement and policy development pilot program. By increasing access to civic engagement, our state can ensure that its future leaders have the opportunity to serve their communities and participate in our democracy,” said Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister).
"Through the pandemic and challenges of our times, it is more important now more than ever to listen to the needs and issues of young people. Our Policy Slate is a trailblazing package of bills that champions justice, equity, and accessibility for all - especially our most marginalized communities. In every step, whether it's mobilizing youth within the legislative progress or positively impacting youth after bills are signed into law, Empowerment Collective seeks to center all of its advocacy around those communities directly affected: youth," said Jason Chen, Chair of the Empowerment Collective.
“In modern times, there is an ageist perception against youth civic engagement. It's up to us to prove that we are more than capable of fostering the change that our world needs,” said Colman Sun, State Vice President of the California Association of Student Councils.
“When it comes to education in particular, youth leadership is even more important since students are one of the most critical stakeholders in an education system. Youth advocacy can change lives. The work the Empowerment Collective is doing is critical in fostering a new generation of youth leadership in policy-making. GENup is a proud member and strong supporter of the Empowerment Collective. Believing in yourself and the power of your fellow peers to make a difference in this world is the pathway to building a more progressive future for all," said Alvin Lee, Executive Director of GENup.
“Youth are often stigmatized as apathetic, but that could not be further from the truth. March For Our Lives, Greta Thumberg and all the wonderful advocacy occurring within school districts have proved our wherewithal and zeal. Empowerment Collective helps connect youth with the means and resources they need to make real, tangible change in the areas which directly impact them and is more important now than ever before,” said Bella Brannon, Speaker of the Assembly for SoCal Junior State of America.
“Empowerment Collective is taking a deeply necessary and bold step in progressing the youth agenda. They aren’t just demystifying the legislative process, they’re inviting new people into it by putting forth an accessible policy slate that will tangibly impact the lives of young people in our state. NorCal and SoCal JSA are proud to stand with Empowerment Collective in their fight to equip us all with the tools we need to bring change and perspective to our communities,” said Abby Sanders, Deputy Director of Activism for NorCal Junior State of America.
“The Empowerment Collective offers a unifying voice centered around the priorities of students. The California Student Board Member Association, representing school district Student Board Members from across the state, is proud to stand with students in supporting strong legislation that seeks to center equity, and confront the immense challenges that public education faces,” said Zachary Patterson, President of the California Student Board Member Association.
"Youth deserve the chance to advocate for themselves and their fellow peers directly to the state legislature through civic and authentic youth engagement. California Youth Connection is passionate to be part of the Empowerment Collective and cosponsor the California Youth Empowerment Act because it will empower young people with lived experience in foster care to connect directly with decision-makers. Youth representation is essential to provide genuine insight to improve the everyday lives of foster youth in California through legislative and policy change," said Jordan Sosa, Statewide Legislative and Policy Manager for California Youth Connection.
“As a youth commissioner for the San Francisco Youth Commission, I am excited to see other youth leaders to show up for their community and continue the fight for social justice through Empowerment Collective. Through AB 46, other youth leaders have an opportunity to show up for their community and continue the fight for social justice. It’s important to have youth representation at every level of government to get our voices incorporated into policy decisions, to connect young people with their leaders, and to connect leaders with their constituents,” said Adrianna Zhang of San Francisco Youth Commission.
California spends billions of dollars to serve the state’s youth yet plans often lack youth input. Now more than ever, it’s imperative to center policy around those who are directly affected by it. By engaging youth in every step of the legislative process, we can pass groundbreaking legislation to improve the lives of young Californians.
Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo was elected as the representative of the 51st Assembly District in December of 2017. She is the Chair of Budget SubCommittee #4 on State Administration, and a member of the Appropriations, Budget, Health, Privacy and Consumer Protection, and Utilities and Energy Committees, as well as Chair of the Uplifting Girls and Women of Color in California Select Committee. Assemblywoman Carrillo represents the people of East Los Angeles, Northeast Los Angeles, and the neighborhoods of El Sereno, Echo Park, Lincoln Heights, Chinatown and parts of Silver Lake.