Los Angeles is blessed with innovative nonprofits caring for children and young people who are seeking to improve their quality of life. Here are two such organizations featured by three 11th grade YouthGive student participants (Sarah Choe, Sayda Sosa and Lidia Medina) at New Roads High School in Santa Monica:
Since its founding in 1997, Kidsave has been creating worldwide change in communities where the orphan and foster care population is high, giving children an opportunity to have a loving family. Kidsave has helped 3000 children find parents and lasting connections with adults in South America, Eastern Europe and the United States.
Kidsave organizes a Summer Miracle Program in LA where children from Kazakhstan and Russia come to the United States and stay with a host family for six weeks. Through this program 97% of participating children were able to find a permanent home. They also operate a year-round Weekend Miracles Program where older children who are in the foster care system are given the opportunity to live with a family on the weekends.
To create policy change, Kidsave helps children who have grown up in the American foster care system, and foster kids in other countries, try to reform government policies that deal with foster care issues. The current foster care system works against these youth because most of them have to be "turned out" at ages 15-18 into the real world with no support by the orphanages or foster care system. Because of this, one-third of these children's adult lives are spent on welfare, half will end up in prison, and three-fifths of the girls end up pregnant by the age of 22.
Check their website to see profiles of some of the 600 LA kids in foster care waiting to be adopted. Anyone who is in middle school or older can volunteer at the Kidsave office, coordinating events for the children or interacting with the kids. If you do not have time to volunteer, you can always help by sending donations.
Stand Up for Kids is an organization that has been working to rescue homeless youth since 1990. They have programs in 43 cities around the United States that are run almost entirely by volunteers. They supply homeless youth with basic services such as food packs, hygiene kits, clothing, and social services. In addition to providing them with these basic resources, Stand Up for Kids also helps these kids find homes, counseling, healthy services, and assist them in their educational development.
The Los Angeles Chapter reaches out to kids in the Venice and Hollywood areas where they meet with almost 200 kids every week. Their mission is to let these kids know that someone cares for them and gain their trust so that they can eventually help get them back on their feet.
Stand Up for Kids needs all the volunteers they can get. If you are 16 or older you can take part in their outreach programs or organize a sock or food drive in your neighborhood or community. Even though you might not have time to volunteer, you can still support Stand Up for Kids by sending financial or material donations. They are looking for travel size toiletries, toothbrushes, deodorant, razors, backpacks, socks, sleeping bags, clothing, and shoes. With your help and support, Stand Up for Kids can continue to make a difference in these kids' lives.
By Sarah Choe, Sayda Sosa and Lidia Medina, 11th Grade, New Roads High School