of LYP students
have graduated from
of students have enrolled
in college after spending
2 years in the LYP.
of LYP students have raised their GPA since joining the LYP
of students consider LYP "home away from home"
The LEGACY Youth Project (LYP) has become a proven educational model for students who have traditionally been marginalized and underserved in our Napa Valley Unified School District. The LYP sprouted in the Fall semester of 2012 at Vintage High School, through a collaborative effort by students who connected with School Resource Officer Omar Salem and Youth Developer and College Professor Carlos Hagedorn. In this collaborative partnership between students, resource officer and professor they co-created agreements that strived for a positive school culture and community that no longer created "at risk" consequences (i.e. educational disengagement, social isolation, gang participation, substance abuse, community marginalization, and dreams differed) for our youth but a school and community that created "at promise" opportunities where all students would have an opportunity to succeed. This new "at promise" culture would be a positive, healthy, rigorous, challenging place with high expectations and support systems where our youth would be seen, heard, could talk about their struggles in life, their cultural identity, their social and economic challenges that they faced, be cared for and loved— while (re)building their dreams and hopes for a promising future. Those students and adults would then become the founders creating the LEGACY Youth Project.
The LYP started as an after school pilot program, and then transitioned into an academic class once a a week during a school period. Officer Salem and Professor Hagedorn found that more time was needed with the students to effect change. In the Spring semester of 2013, the LYP launched as an academic class where students met 5 days a week for a full period at Vintage High School. Since then the LYP has expanded to serve and meet the needs of our sisters in high school, additional cohorts at Vintage High School and our first middle school cohort at Silverado Middle School.
The LYP offers a community holistic approach through collaborative community partnerships that seek to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to “at-risk” conditions within our schools and community. Since the beginning the Napa Police Department (NPD) has invested in the LYP to actively engage within the educational world to address the needs of youth who have been historically marginalized and underserved. The NPD believes in partnering to learn and seek solutions that provide our youth with a sense of belonging in their schools and community. This unique and innovate partnership between the Napa Unified School District and Napa Police Department has fundamentally changed the way we approach and support our students who have been historically marginalized and underserved by creating authentic and real solutions for our schools and community.
WHY THIS HEART WORK IS NEEDED
The LEGACY Youth Project was founded in response to the lack of opportunities, resources and responsive learning spaces for students who had traditionally been marginalized and underserved in our Napa Valley. Our students face many challenges as they come from low socio-economic backgrounds; are English language learners; living in single parent homes; gang affiliation; immigration status; domestic violence; substance and drug abuse; low self-esteem and social/emotional behavior, and lack of positive role models in their lives. Many of these challenges are intersected in each of their lives where they face marginalization from their school, home and/or community.
According to the California Endowment “place” matters when it comes to the health of our Latino boys. The Napa Valley Unified School District and the Napa Police Department identified that additional resources where needed in order for our students to have a more positive educational experience in order to transition their lives from spaces of marginalization to spaces of empowerment and transformation. The LYP serves as a transformative educational model for people working with “at-promise” young Chicano/a and Latino/a youth populations in closing the achievement gap and building pathways to college and beyond. While 98% of our participants have been Chicano/as Latino/as, we are committed to all students of all backgrounds where the LYP could be identified as the right place of support.
The LYP is the light in a dark room, revealing the importance for partnerships between NVUSD, NPD, funders and other community organizations to seek solutions for a healthier and thriving community. This holistic approach of collaborative community partnerships have paved the way for dialogues of understanding, opening lines of communication, breaking barriers, providing mentorship, cultivating kinship, creating a new, inclusive, and proactive model in how our community can work together. The LYP is committed to seeing the full fruition of possibilities and dreams of our young men and women. The LYP offers the light and the right “place” in preparing the hearts of our young men and women and developing their humanity for a life of opportunity, advocacy, success and joy. We remain guided by and committed to our “heartwork.”