Our Story

Since 2008, Freedom 4 Youth has grown a comprehensive, grassroots program that empowers youth within and beyond the juvenile justice system. F4Y provides personal and leadership development, one-on-one mentorship, and tailored transition support to help youth transition from detention to freedom while identifying satisfying careers, pursuing higher education, and nurturing their families. The stories of the youth we’ve served demonstrate that our compassion and commitment pay off with decreased recidivism, positive career and education outcomes, and increased community engagement. Freedom 4 Youth pillars are story telling, evidenced based programming, community collaboration and child advocacy.

Freedom 4 Youth provides 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; and the Department of Social Services. We are in the business of giving every young person a chance to flourish and creating an equitable and safe community in Santa Barbara County.


Freedom 4 Youth (F4Y), is 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 2011, Toastmasters Soldiers evolved into Freedom 4 Youth 501(c)3. In 2012, youth leadership program members founded the Freedom 4 Youth Advocates, a University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus based mentorship organization. Our UCSB student mentoring program, Freedom 4 Youth Advocates, has a combined total of 26,137 volunteer hours and counting. There are currently 15 active mentors and a total of 122 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.


Freedom 4 Youth leadership team members have been  personally impacted by the criminal justice system. Their individual experiences have motivated them to empower youth to break the bonds of past limitations.