2017 Summer YDA: Voices of Hope


“If you really knew me, you would know I care about…” From this space of personal experience and compassion, 34 students from twenty local high schools shared about their concerns for their communities on Thursday, August 3, 2017, at the Asomugha Foundation in Los Angeles. Students addressed problems and possible solutions around the topics of immigration, homelessness, affordable housing, quality education, restorative justice, pollution, and harmful stereotypes of minorities.

Awakening youth voices to positively advocate for their communities is part of the larger framework Sharefest employs to engage students in service and leadership. Public speaking is a common fear and discovering tools and motivations for conquering it early is essential to empowering the valuable resources youth provide in bettering local communities.Through the “point of view” presentation, youth discover their ideas for community restoration are important and that others can benefit from their courage to speak up. This exercise is an essential element of shifting both internal and external stereotypes that marginalize youth from being a part of the solutions communities need to flourish.

The Voices of Hope luncheon is the culminating event for the 10th and 11th grade students’ Summer Youth Development Academy (S-YDA) Leadership class. This year’s S-YDA theme, Agents of Change, helped students explore social justice issue and equipped them with the five habits of a change agent: courage, compassion, critical thinking, cooperation, and commitment. 80 guests joined for lunch to listen to the students’ presentations, including parents, principals, teachers, business leaders, community advocates, and government dignitaries. At the conclusion of the event, Gabriela Medina, District Director for Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragan (CA 44th Congressional District), exhorted the students, “Keep speaking! Our communities need you.” Also in attendance was Manny Lopez (Mayor Garcetti’s Office) and Victor Ibarra (Assemblymember Mike Gipson’s Office). Students received certificates from both Barragan and Gipson’s office in recognition for their community advocacy.





Alcoa Foundation Supports Sharefest Youth Development Academy With a Generous Gift


We are thrilled to have the generous support of the Alcoa Foundation and are so grateful for their $50,000 gift to support Sharefest's Youth Development Academy! Additionally, Sharefest YDA alum Fernando Aguilar was recently selected for the NatureBridge Alcoa Scholars program! As 1 of only 100 students selected from thousands of applications, Fernando will have the opportunity to spend two weeks on an environmental expedition in Shenandoah National Park. Congrats, Fernando and thank you, Alcoa, for continuing to support youth development and education!





Balfour Beatty Demonstrates Commitment to Education by Giving Back


It’s incredible what can happen when individuals and organizations unite under a common purpose, as the team from Balfour Beatty has demonstrated this time and again in their support and sponsorship of Sharefest projects.

Driven by their desire to make an impact in local communities, Balfour Beatty once again hosted the annual Golf Tournament this spring to raise funds in support of projects for the 2017 Sharefest Workday, as well as student scholarships. This year, more than 140 individuals attended the tournament and helped raise $135,770 to sponsor seven Workday sites, send over 230 low-income students to camp and provide five college scholarships to local deserving students.

In addition, the Balfour Beatty team mobilized volunteers to serve at the sites they sponsored during Workday. Their staff is passionate about helping improve schools to give youth quality, beautiful campuses in which to learn.

“I think it’s extremely important that our employees have a culture of giving back and supporting communities that support us,” said John Bernardy, Senior Vice President at Balfour Beatty.

Toward this effort, more than 40 Balfour Beatty employees volunteered their time on May 6 to help with projects at Beryl Heights Elementary School, Juan de Anza Elementary School, Tulita Elementary School, Adams Middle School, Magruder Middle School, Culver City High School, and Redondo Union High School. Working alongside the schools and other Sharefest volunteers, they helped provide construction, painting, landscaping, cleaning, and more. The combined efforts provided more than $80,000 in improvements across these seven schools.

“We do so much within the community within our regular job that we do with the contractors, but Sharefest is about so much more than that,” said Ray Purcell, Senior Superintendent at Balfour Beatty. “[It’s about] everybody there, hand in hand, side by side, just doing construction work together and doing things that we can build great relationships that will last a lifetime.”

Beyond Workday, Balfour Beatty extends their commitment to education by using the remaining money raised at the Golf Tournament to support students attending Sharefest’s Summer Youth Development Academy for middle and high school youth. Additionally, they gave a total $5,000 in scholarships for local graduating seniors who demonstrate strong academic performance, service to the community, leadership, teamwork, responsibility, and integrity. Their hope is that these students will go on to college and become leaders who will bring positive impact to their own communities. This year’s scholarship recipients included Jason Zeidman from Culver City Unified School District, Stephen Gee from Torrance Unified School District, Celine Casillas and Malek Jesri from Wiseburn School District, and Matt Mercier (attending UC Berkeley) from Redondo Beach Unified School District.

“We are so proud of these students and the impact they are already having on their communities, and are incredibly grateful to the team at Balfour Beatty for encouraging and supporting their dreams of attending college,” said Chad Mayer. “Balfour Beatty has once again surpassed expectations in their efforts to give back to our schools. Their generosity, from Golf Tournament to the volunteers who served on Workday to helping send kids to our summer camp to these student scholarships, helps transform lives," said Chad Mayer, Sharefest Executive Director.

Since 2010, Balfour Beatty has:

  • Raised $568,000 for Sharefest community projects
  • Mobilized 1,023 volunteers to give back
  • Provided $913,360 worth of work for schools
  • Given $24,000 in student scholarships

Thank you, Balfour Beatty!


View photos from the 2017 Balfour Beatty/Sharefest Golf Tournament and 2017 Workday Projects.



Watch the recap video of the 2017 Balfour Beatty/Sharefest Golf Tournament:





Organizations and Youth Join to Refurbish Wilmington Middle School STEAM Magnet


A library renovation. New, colorful, inspiring murals. Improved outdoor seating. These are just a few of the projects that took place during the 2017 Workday at Wilmington Middle School STEAM Magnet thanks to Sharefest sponsor Phillips 66 and an incredible group of volunteers.

A longtime partner with Sharefest, Phillips 66 understands the value of engaging with and giving back to the community in which they work. This generous organization not only provided funds to support this project and others, but also brought a group of energetic employees to volunteer their skills and expertise to help see these projects to fruition during Workday on May 6.

“Sharefest and Phillips 66 work well together because our values align of safety, honor, and commitment, and we work together and collaborate within the community to make a difference,” shared Janet Grothe, public affairs manager for Phillips 66 Los Angeles Refinery.

Two additional groups were key players in this site. Harbor Christian Center helped with advanced preparation of the site, making sure everything was ready to go for a successful day. And a dedicated group of 45 volunteers from the center joined in on Workday to complete the projects.

Sharefest’s Youth Leadership Council (YLC) was also instrumental in the success of the project. As a service learning project, the YLC students took ownership of planning, preparing, and executing the renovation of the main library, which had not been updated since the 1970s. Upgrades included deep cleaning, painting, new furniture, and installation of a new stage for open mic nights. To make all this possible, the students began plans five months ahead of time, and their hard work and intentional planning paid off to create a beautiful place for Wilmington students to study and connect.

To complete the upgrades at the campus, two STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) bungalows were deep cleaned, painted, and prepared for the installation of new furniture; five STEAM-themed murals were installed, highlighting the important contributions of Latino scientists; and a large planter with built-in benches was added to the courtyard to provide shading and seating for outdoor classroom use. Together, these updates create fresh spaces to support students as they learn.

As one participant said, “No gender, no age, no color lines…just everyone working for one common goal.” Sharefest is proud to partner with Phillips 66 and the community to bring such a beautiful expression of community care to Wilmington Middle School.





Improving Communities and Fostering Relationships: Workday 2017


In the early morning hours of May 6, individuals of all ages and backgrounds began arriving at sites in cities across the South Bay and L.A. Harbor areas, ready to don gloves, grab shovels and paintbrushes, and get their hands dirty as part of Sharefest’s 14th annual Workday.

On this day, more than 3,000 volunteers united across 44 sites with a shared purpose: to gather in community and give of their time and talents to help improve schools, community centers, parks, and more. The day allowed groups and families to adopt and participate in projects like the GRoW Community Garden at the Watts Century Latino Organization, the San Pedro Gateway Triangle landscaping update, Paseo Del Mar Guardrail improvements, and L.A. County Department of Child and Family Services employee lounge remodel, as well as much needed campus upgrades at 32 local elementary, middle, and high schools.

“[The best part about my Workday experience was] seeing the community and our school’s families come together for an important purpose. Working side by side allows us to get to know each other and have fun,” shared Kris Lauritson, Garden Educator at Lawndale Elementary School District.

Each project is completed at no cost to the recipients, thanks to sponsorships from numerous organizations who step up to support these community improvements. This year’s sponsors included Balfour Beatty Construction, The Harbor Community Benefit Foundation, Phillips 66, Council District 15, and many others. From providing funds or materials for projects, to bringing volunteers to serve, these sponsors made a significant impact.

Youth involvement is also a key part of the day, and an important aspect of Sharefest’s mission. “These youth are our future, and we want to encourage and empower them to get involved and become more invested in their communities,” said Chad Mayer, Sharefest Executive Director. “When they take ownership of these projects, they develop a deeper sense of pride for the places they live, and they want to see them thrive.”

As part of this effort, students from Sharefest’s Youth Development Academy and Youth Leadership Council participated in several projects during the day. Service learning is a core component of these programs that focus on developing leadership skills and civic mindedness. “We hope [the work completed during the Workday] will inspire other communities. To show that we care about our community also teaches us to be more appreciative about things around our community,” said Elmer, a student from Avalon Continuation High School.

Over the course of the day, an estimated $798,544 in improvements took place across all sites. Even more important, volunteers, businesses, and project recipients forged new relationships as they worked side by side to beautify and positively impact our communities.

Get a glimpse of this year’s Workday accomplishments! View photos and the 2017 Workday video.