Freedom 4 Youth Day of Advocacy

Santa Barbara, CA (October 6, 2018) — Freedom 4 Youth (F4Y) returned from Sacramento on
Friday, October 5, after an incredible day with special guests: Michael Mendoza, Anti-Recidivism Coalition  Policy Advocacy Director; Rachel Stern, Executive Officer, Board of Juvenile Hearings; Chuck Supple, Director of the California Department of Juvenile Justice; Israel Landa, Legislative Director, Office of Asm. Monique Limón; and Jeffrey R. Bernstein , Policy Analyst, Office of Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.

Freedom 4 Youth flew from Santa Barbara to Sacramento, for the first time for a Day of Advocacy with a handful of youth, UCSB F4Y student mentors, a few Board members (Candice Pipersburg-Johnson, Miles Ashlock and Damian Damizza Young), Chaplin Eddie Perez , F4Y team members and F4Y Executive Director / Co-Founder Billi Jo Starr, thanks to the support of Daniel Zingale, VP at The California Endowment and F4Y Deputy Director LaVell Baylor.

It was a heart-centered thought-provoking day as Freedom 4 Youth toured the Capitol, met with legislators to advocate for social restorative measures for youths transitioning from incarceration to community reintegration, legislators, and learned first hand about policy making, and voting. as well as ways to work together to improve and change the current system’s treatment of incarcerated adolescents.

Since 2008, Freedom 4 Youth has been providing programs and services to the youth committed to the Los Prietos Boys Camp (LPBC), Santa Maria Juvenile Hall, the Workforce Development Board; and previously the Alternative Report and Resource Center; Westside Boys & Girls Club; La Cuesta High School; and the Department of Social Services.  

Freedom 4 Youth (F4Y), a  501(c)(3) not-for-profit co-founded by Billi Jo Starr, M.A and the youth at the Los Prietos Boys Camp (LPBC) after creating an officially recognized Toastmasters Charter called Toastmaster Soldiers (TMS) in 2008.  TMS was the first chapter of it’s kind for youth in the juvenile justice system.

In 2012, Freedom 4 Youth’s Toastmasters Soldiers evolved and expanded F4Y’s programming at LPBC working hand-in-hand with our UCSB student mentors and community allies such as Santa Barbara County Probation and the Workforce Development Board.  Our UCSB student mentoring program, coined the Freedom 4 Youth Advocates, since 2012 has a combined total of 20,953 volunteer hours and counting. There are currently 22 active mentors and a total of 93 alumni mentors. Many alumni have gone on to receive master’s degrees in social work, enter teacher education programs and law schools or join the workforce as counselors, case managers, and law enforcement officers.

This trip was sponsored by the California Endowment.