Summer YDA Comes to an End

The Summer Youth Development Academy ended on a high note as students finished a final week filled with fun activities and special moments. Middle school students continued to build relationships with each other and their counselors as they participated in activities from art class to swimming. They also spent a day giving back to the community by serving at the Toberman Neighborhood Center. For high school students, the week’s highlights included a trip to Los Angeles City Hall where they toured offices, interviewed staff, and met with Councilman Joe Buscaino. The week wrapped with an awards ceremony celebrating the many achievements of these incredible students!


Hattie Harrison from the Alcoa Foundation visits YDA and views video interviews the high school students have produced.


High school students tour City Hall with Branimir Kvartuc and get a behind-the-scenes at the work of the Los Angeles City Council.


The high school students put their interview skills to work at City Hall.


Students meet with Councilman Joe Buscano.


Students and counselors are ready for a day of service at the Toberman Neighborhood Center.


A middle school student adds a fresh coat of paint to a bench.


Students work together sorting donated books for the center.


Students took time to write inspirational notes for youth at the Toberman Neighborhood Center.


Students take a pause from their hard work for lunch provided by Chick-fil-A.


A student thanks her counselor with this fun drawing.


Students receive awards on the last day of YDA.


The amazing team of counselors who make a difference in the lives of these youth.





YDA Inspires Future Leaders

This week marked the third week for the Youth Development Academy high school students and the first week for session 2 middle school students. The younger students kicked off the week getting to know their groups and counselors through team-building activities and learning to express themselves through art. The high school students had the opportunity to meet with and interview California Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi and Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. They even spent time role playing in the L.A. County board room, getting a feel for what it’s like to serve as a local official. We’re excited to watch the continued growth of these future leaders!


Students arrive at the California State University Dominguez Hills campus ready to meet their counselors.


Steve Tedesco greets a returning student with breakfast and a hug.


Students wait for artist PeQue to pass out materials and help them create designs for their hats.


Counselor Sergio works with a student on her hat design.


Counselor Gabriel assists his team as they compete in the Marshmallow Challenge.


Students race in a friendly competition.


2014 Youth Development Academy.


The 2014 YDA High School students prepare before meeting with Assembly Member Muratsuchi.


High School Program Director Ray helps high school member tie his tie.


Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi is interviewed by the high school students.


The YDA students with Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi.


Students review their notes before the interview with Supervisor Don Knabe in his downtown office.


Students greet Supervisor Don Knabe and his wonderful staff.


The high school students interview Supervisor Knabe.


The YDA students with L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe.





YDA Continues with Fun-filled Learning and Service Opportunities for Youth

Week two of the Summer Youth Development Academy brought many new and exciting moments for participants, from art projects and creative writing assignments to college visits and a special service day, and yes, the annual Water Olympics. In just two weeks we saw tremendous growth in our middle school students, who completed their session on Friday. The high school students continue for two more weeks, which will be filled with additional opportunities to inspire them for college and their future careers. Check out some of the highlights from week two of Summer YDA!


Executive Director, Chad Mayer greets the YDA session one students as they arrive at the Toberman Neighborhood Center for a day of service.


YDA students arrived at the Toberman Neighborhood Center ready to give back to their community.


Artist PeQue assists a student in preparing the room for a fresh coat of paint.


Executive Director Chad Mayer joins the campers in painting pathway on the floor.


YDA campers clean the computer lab of the Toberman Neighborhood Center.


Chad Mayer joins students and counselors in a game of basketball.


Chik-fil-A generously provided lunch for the YDA service day


Toberman CEO Linda Matlock thanks Sharefest YDA campers for their hard work.


Steve Tedesco talks with session one students about what they learned about teams and leadership during YDA.


Students participate in a musical chairs competition.


YDA camper receiving award from group counselor.


The competition gets intense as students demonstrate their swimming skills during YDA Water Olympics.


A student pushes a watermelon through the water during Water Olympics.


Students pause from activities for lunch from Subway.


High school students practice interview and videography skills as they capture stories during service day.





Summer YDA is off to a great start!

Sharefest’s Summer Youth Development Academy kicked off this week with more than 240 campers eager to learn, play, and work together during their sessions at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Middle and high schools students were split into groups and participated in numerous activities, from team and leadership building exercises to writing classes, swim lessons, dodge ball, and more. Check out a few moments from this week’s camp!


Students receive a YDA bag on their first day which included an Under Armour T-shirt donated by Clayton and Ellen Kershaw of Kershaw’s Challenge.


Campers learn to work together as a team to complete activities.


Our amazing counselors lead and work with students throughout the week.


Students work together on their creative writing assignments.


Swim lessons—a highlight of each day as students work to improve their swimming skills.


Youth had a blast during the dodgeball tournament, and also learned important lessons about teamwork.


Campers meet with their groups and counselors at the end of the week to talk about what they learned.


A friendly soccer match breaks out during free time.


Sharefest Executive Director Chad Mayer sends student off with a high-five.





Local Graduating Students Encouraged with College Scholarships


Each year, Sharefest and its partners seek ways to encourage Los Angeles-area youth in their educational pursuits—challenging them to finish high school well and actively pursue their college dreams.

Yet for many, the college dream can seem daunting, particularly due to expense. But reports continue to prove that higher education is a worthwhile investment. In fact, Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree, according to the Economic Policy Institute (New York Times, “Is College Worth It,” May 27, 2014). To help ease some of the financial concerns and encourage students that a college degree is attainable, Sharefest frequently seeks ways to raise funds toward college scholarships.

In April, with the support of Council District 15, Sharefest and its partners collaborated to create the Humboldt Bus Crash Relief Fund that raised close to $40,000 for the 26 survivors impacted by the horrific crash that took the lives of 10 individuals. And on June 4, Sharefest and Councilman Joe Buscaino surprised two Banning High School students at their graduation ceremony with $5,000 each in scholarships toward college. Karen Duarte and Johnathan Gutierrez will both attend Humboldt University this fall, and are survivors of the crash. These scholarships were possible thanks to the support and generosity of Councilman Buscaino, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Phillips 66, Chadwick School in Palos Verdes, and more than 100 individual donors.

“On behalf of Sharefest and many community partners, we want to recognize you and reward you for keeping your eye on the prize in the face of adversity. Please accept this $5,000 academic scholarship and know that your community will always do whatever it takes to help you succeed,” said Councilman Buscaino as he presented the checks. (Watch the scholarship presentation.)

Several high school seniors from the Wiseburn, Redondo, Torrance and Culver City school districts were also encouraged in their college dreams thanks to Balfour Beatty Construction (BBC), who awarded a total of $4,000 in scholarships to five exemplary students. Recipients were selected for their strong academic performance, service in the community, and for demonstrating leadership, teamwork, responsibility, and integrity. These students each plan to continue to serve a impact their communities in college and beyond.

“These scholarships epitomize Sharefest’s mission of creative collaboration for positive community change,” said Chad Mayer, Sharefest executive director. “By combining our efforts, we can maximize our impact. Thanks to our generous partners and donors, the funds we raised through the BBC golf tournament and Humboldt Bus Crash Relief Fund can now help these students pursue their educational goals and one day become leaders in their communities and businesses.”


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