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UC Berkeley Press Release

UC Berkeley summit to help youth in public housing build healthy communities

– About 75 adult administrators and youth from 15 federal housing projects across the United States are coming together at the University of California, Berkeley, Aug. 4-7 to learn skills to develop and deliver messages that promote healthy communities.

The third annual "Youth Leadership for Change Summit" involves young residents of Hope VI housing projects, which in recent years have undergone major renovation, demolition and disruption. A summit organizer said the conference offers participants the opportunity to help rebuild their communities.

Teenagers from Oakland, for example, will work on a plan to deal with the rising number of liquor stores in their neighborhoods.

Juan Monsantos, director of planning for the San Francisco Housing Authority, said youth in San Francisco housing projects have offered suggestions about everything from design, construction, landscaping and recreational space during eight years of the Hope VI renovations. Five young people from Hope VI projects in San Francisco are accompanying him and a female chaperone to the campus conference to work on such concerns as neighborhood gang and crime locations, job training for their parents, and opportunities for their grandparents and foster parents.

Other participants are coming from cities such as Richmond, Phoenix, Denver, Atlanta, Birmingham, Ala., Savannah, Ga., and Camden, N.J.

Before arriving on campus, participants explore and prioritize community health issues in their neighborhoods and mull over how they might be addressed. "They look at what is good about their communities, and what needs to be changed," said Monsantos.

During the summit, the teens will work alongside graduate students and alumni from UC Berkeley's Department of City and Regional Planning to receive coaching on community research, planning and how to create neighborhood networks and partnerships.

Organizers said the young housing project participants often have unique access to resources through their strong ties to churches, community groups, non-profit organizations and social services - all of which can serve as important vehicles to spread the messages developed at the summit.

Daily summit workshops will teach technical skills in radio, video and graphic arts that youth can use to develop public service announcements, community access/cable TV spots, and posters.

Youth Radio, Below Radar graphics, and Youth Sounds, an Oakland-based non-profit, will provide the training.

The program begins Wednesday, Aug. 4, in the Haas School of Business's Andersen Auditorium with a dinner and a keynote speech by Oakland community educator Ed James. Presentations of final media workshop products before an expert panel will occur on Saturday, Aug. 7, also in the Andersen Auditorium. Morning and afternoon media workshops will be held in Wurster Hall.

During their stay, the teenage participants will live in student housing on campus, picnic in Faculty Glade and tour the campus with their graduate student coaches.

The summit is hosted by UC Berkeley's new Center for Cities and Schools, part of the Institute of Urban and Regional Development, in partnership with the campus's Community Partnerships Office and Young Entrepreneurs at Haas (YEAH) program.

Deborah McKoy, director of the Center for Cities and Schools, said its purpose "is to use the urban environment as a text for learning. UC Berkeley's leadership summits are very often the first time many of these young adults have been on a college campus. They learn not only how to create change in their communities, but also how they can change their future through education and working together."

Providing funding is the San Francisco Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Haas School, and participating housing authorities.