I first visited the Urban Foundation’s Kid City program in Fall 2016. I heard about the program from a close friend and a presentation in class, but I was hesitant to go because I wasn’t sure if I needed the college prep they offered. At the time, I doubted that college was the right choice for me but my friends convinced me otherwise. Going to Kid City during the college application period was one of the best decisions I ever made, because the wonderful staff helped ease my worries and pushed me to explore my interests. Thanks to their help, I am the first in my family to go to college.
This year I am fortunate to be an intern at the Urban Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to “initiating and supporting signs of hope in Los Angeles.” As the Urban Foundation historian I have learned more about the foundation’s rich history and the dedication and commitment it takes to run a successful program. (Left: 2018 Kid City Summer Program Interns)
Since the Urban Foundation launched Kid City in 2008, it has been committed to develop young people into leaders for the healthy growth of local communities in urban Los Angeles. The program started with two staff members and four children, with a goal to provide positive youth development through “activities that address the mental, physical, spiritual, social, economic, and environmental needs of each child." (Left: Kid City Leadership Program in 2009)
Kid City has grown exponentially in recent years and although the program has shifted to a high school demographic and a college access network, it continues to provide unique resources and opportunities that address those same needs. Thanks to Kid City, I have had the opportunity to attend stress relief workshops, hike in the San Gabriel mountains and learn about the indigenous communities that live there, go on a retreat and listen to Reverend James Lawson speak about nonviolent direct action, and attend social justice workshops that discuss issues like racism and homelessness within our communities. These opportunities have helped me develop a mindset that lets me make the best out of every situation. I feel more courageous and empowered to challenge the status quo and push the boundaries to make things better.
It’s incredible to see how Kid City started from an afterschool program and developed into a sprawling network of friends and a “second home” for many students. Over 300 students have attended 40 colleges across the state and the nation, including privates, UC’s and Cal States. Going to college might seem like a distant dream at first but at Kid City, we constantly remind each other that it is possible to be the first in our family to go to college.
As I read through historical Kid City reports, I am reminded of the positive impact the program has on us and our communities. The opportunities at Kid City have helped me be more comfortable with myself and others because now I practice empathic listening and encourage others to share their stories and find their voice. At Kid City we grow together and push each other achieve our higher education goals. In college we are representatives of our communities so it’s important for us to understand the challenges we face and discover possible solutions to foster healthy community growth.
Coming into this position, I had an idea of where my career was going but I lacked confidence about what I could do and what I am really good at. This internship has definitely given me a better understanding of my skill set and where my career may take me. Working for a non-profit has helped me realize that money isn’t everything; I’m beginning to understand that the dedication and optimism I put into my career will be more valuable than anything. As of now I’m still unsure of what my career will be, but I’ve learned that I am not alone. This job has taught me that everyone has experienced something similar and I shouldn’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. With the love and support of everyone at Kid City, I know my future will fall into place.