Jóvenes en Acción/Youth in Action (JEA) is our intensive, integrated year-round program that combines three things: Afro-Latin arts, education supports and mentoring, and civic engagement and youth organizing. Through JEA, youth in grades 8-12 join one of our Afro-Latin arts teams: Ritmo en Acción (dance), Musicians In Community, or Acción Community Theatre. They receive training in their art form and also work on creative projects such as writing and recording an album or devising a play about an issue in our community. Through these artistic experiences, youth develop all kinds of important skills like communication, collaboration, and flexibility– skills that will serve them well in other contexts.
Yet JEA doesn’t stop there. All JEA youth also explore college and career options alongside a caring adult mentor. During their senior year, JEA youth work with their mentor on all aspects of the college application process, from drafting essays to submitting college applications, and ultimately making enrollment decisions. Finally, JEA youth participate in regular civic engagement training, with a small group of these youth also taking leadership roles in community organizing campaigns that impact our neighborhood and our city. With this special combination of education and career pathways, Afro-Latin arts, and civic engagement and youth organizing programming, youth are challenged to grow as artists, learn 21st century skills, plan for their futures, and become the changemakers that our community needs.
¡Acción! Community Theatre (ACT!) youth utilize theatre as a means to address
some of the most critical issues facing them. ACT! teaches collaboration, time management, communication, and encourages creativity and problem solving—skills essential to life beyond the stage. ACT! youth train with a Theatre Resident Artist to cultivate skills as actors and further use those skills to address issues that are important to them and their community. By writing and performing their own original work, and learning from the works of established playwrights, ACT! teens use theatre to bring hundreds of children, teens, and adults in the community together to create a vision for a safe and vibrant neighborhood.
Musicians in Community (MIC) is JEA’s music team. MIC youth build confidence and personal-management skills as they learn to play, perform, and teach all forms of music—with a special focus on Afro-Latin genres. After intensive training that helps them grow as artists, MIC teens bring performances to hundreds of community members a year. HSTF believes that music is essential to a vibrant community. MIC music ensembles bring high-quality Afro-Latin music performances to all corners of the city and introduce thousands of people to the rich culture and traditions of the Latino community.
Ritmo en Acción (REA) is JEA’s Afro-Latin dance team. REA youth learn contemporary and traditional Afro-Latin dance styles, connect with their community, and develop critical 21st Century transferrable skills that will serve them will in many other contexts. Teens become more physically active and more artistically expressive. At the same time, they build self-confidence and perseverance, connect with their cultures, and develop leadership skills. Additionally, they engage people from all backgrounds and act as ambassadors to promote the richness of Latinx culture.
Youth Organizers learn to advocate for themselves, their schools, and their communities. Youth develop leadership and organizing skills, engage in social justice through organizing campaigns that achieve concrete victories, and make change. They participate in intensive training, and investigate pressing social and political issues while developing critical thinking, communication, and organizing skills.
Youth and adults work in tandem to identify a problem that affects teens’ lives. They research the issue locally and nationally, develop a non-biased survey with professionals, and administer the survey to teens to gauge the severity of the problem and interest in the issue.
Youth then develop clear, understandable, and attainable campaign goals and a strategy map with campaign tactics, actions, and timetable. They learn how to create power analyses and work on high quality, multimedia presentation materials. They present the plan to potential allies, seek written support, and spread their message widely to ensure a broad base of support for campaign actions.
Youth participate in press conferences and legislative hearings, and in the past have mobilized as many as 500 supporters for a single campaign event. They learn to utilize media including radio, TV, newspaper, magazines, blogs, and more. Further, they engage in quiet lobbying with power-brokers. When appropriate, they negotiate or make changes to the campaign. Youth make sure that laws and policies are changed and guide the implementation process to ensure promises are kept. After the campaign, they monitor the changes to ensure that individuals and bureaucracies are held accountable.