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Students at the Youth Poverty Symposium discuss their roles and responsibilities as advocates to their fellow students.

Youth Poverty Symposium Addresses Challenges Faced By Our Children, Young Adults

SAN BERNARDINO, CA- Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County (CAPSBC) held a High Desert Youth Poverty Symposium at Victor Valley College on Tuesday, April 11.  Students and educators from the High Desert Region were invited to attend the symposium to discuss poverty challenges for youth and to provide resources and guidance to help address these critical issues facing our children and young adults. 

Victor Valley College sponsored the event which was designed to empower youth to help themselves and to be advocates for each other.  Robert Sewell, M.A., Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Victor Valley College commented, “It is vitally important to provide our youth the opportunity to share how they see poverty and how it affects them. Through their valued input we can develop and share tools that can help to mitigate youth poverty.”

Event attendees were greeted by Dr. Margaret Hill, Board Chair for CAPSBC, who also serves as member of the Board of the San Bernardino City Unified School District, Thomas Rice, Esquire (CAPSBC Board member and Attorney at Law with Best, Best and Krieger), Patricia L. Nickols-Butler (CAPSBC President and Chief Executive Officer), Supervisor Robert Lovingood (Chairman of the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors, 1st District Supervisor), Assembly member Jay Obernolte (California State Assembly District 33), and Dr. Roger Wagner (President of Victor Valley College).”

The general session featured keynote speaker Dr. Tayari Kuanda, a professor at the University of Redlands and high school science teacher. He is also a former student at Victor Valley College. Dr. Kuanda shared his personal experiences with poverty growing up in Detroit, Michigan and South Central Los Angeles. Dr. Kuanda’s self-proclaimed mission in life is to help others, especially our youth. From the time he was 10 years old, he has tutored those in need. As an adult has volunteered at schools in at-risk neighborhoods. Dr. Kuanda discussed how he overcame poverty through education, eventually earning his Doctorate of Leadership in Education for Social Justice. He shared with event attendees how important it is to find people to support you, like teachers and counselors.

The afternoon sessions featured several workshops on poverty issues such as homelessness, food insecurity, employment, crime and justice, healthcare, and civic engagement. Many presenters also shared inspiration stories of their personal struggles with poverty and how they overcame the challenges they faced. The afternoon workshops were:

  • Poverty & Public Policy – Presented by Assembly member Jay Obernolte, California State Assembly District 33 and Fred L. Valentine, Jr., Attorney at Law.
  • Homelessness: Can I Avoid It? – Dr. Dee Gilbert, Moretta, Community Development Foundation
  • Poverty, Crime and Justice – Phyllis Morris, The Public Defender
  • Education, Employment & Entrepreneurship – Marcelino Serna, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools
  • Medical & Mental Health Services – Dr. Ernelyn Navarro & Sommer Hail, St. Joseph, St Mary Medical Center
  • Civic Engagement & Voter Registration – Marcelino Garza, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools
  • Food Insecurity: Feeding Those in Need – Bill Edwards, Victor Valley Rescue Mission & Brandon Romano

Presentations were carried on a Facebook Live video stream on CAPSBC Facebook page. The videos will remain on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/capsbc or on CAPSBC’s website where the public is invited you to view, give comments and emojis. We also have made available presentation materials than can be downloaded from CAPSBC’s website.

CAPSBC CEO Patricia L. Nickols-Butler stated, “We are grateful for the opportunity to inspire and educate these students to help them in the future. It is critical for them to become productive, successful citizens for all of our futures. Through this symposium, we are understanding more about the challenges our youth face and what they need to help them.”

The Poverty Steering Committee who planned and implemented this event was led by CAPSBC Board member Thomas Rice. The committee will convene a meeting in the near future to further discuss what has been learned and develop strategies to help address the issues.


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