This semester, FLY had a unique opportunity to expand the reach of our longest-running program to youth who might otherwise have been excluded from participating.
Our partners at Peninsula High School in Burlingame asked us to work with them to develop a law class in Spanish for the San Mateo Union High School School District’s Bridge Program. The class would serve students who had recently moved to the U.S. and were learning English during their senior year.
In August 2020 Juvenile Courts had shut down all across California due to COVID-19. Josy was about to turn 18 and had originally planned to apply for the Extended Foster Care and Benefits Program authorized by California Assembly Bill 12. The program is aimed toward youth who don’t have a guardian, and provides them with housing, support, and college financing.
However, in order to qualify the youth are required to apply before they turn 18. Usually application is a six-month process and with the courts closed and his birthday coming soon, everyone was telling Josy that gaining AB-12 status was impossible — and he was beginning to believe them.
FLY believes that youth are the experts of their own experience, and amplifying their voices is part of FLY’s DNA. FLY itself was founded upon the ideas and feedback provided by youth involved in the juvenile justice system hoping to prevent other young people from having the same fate. Twenty years later, we continue to honor this tradition by engaging and collaborating with young people as true partners in our work.
At FLY, we love sharing personal success stories to illustrate the determination and hard work of our youth. This is the story of Noemi, who participated in our Law and Reentry Programs and overcame many challenges to prove that she can build a bright future for herself.
As our programs operate against the backdrop of a global health pandemic, our work to pursue justice for youth is front and center. Right now, FLY is evolving from a “service to some” organization into the “justice for all” organization we were always intended to be.
Due to COVID-19, all of FLY’s volunteer training had to be conducted virtually. Our staff approached this new endeavor with both excitement and nervousness. They were stepping into the unknown, but with great communication and preparation, the SCC Law Program was able to recruit 15 new volunteers for this year’s Fall semester! The training itself was a huge success, and our staff were able to tackle each item they set out to teach our volunteers.