My name is Noe Orgaz. I come from Los Angeles, CA a city that is faced with many social inequalities and many more systems of oppression. In Los Angeles, police profile young men of color based on their appearance and children are being pushed out of school into jails for minor, non-violent offences. As a young person, I experienced racial profiling both at school and in the streets and in 2002, my senior year, I was pushed out of high school. After five years, I decided to go back to school and get my high school diploma. I found YouthBuild, a local program that helps young adults complete high school and trains them to build low-income housing. I graduated and continued to do community organizing in Los Angeles, helping community members speak to the press about the problems we face. I continue to fight for justice and demand that every young adult is given the opportunity to be successful, graduate high school, and move on to higher education.
As a graduate of YouthBuild I was given the opportunity to serve on the National Alumni Council. The goal for our group is to keep other graduates engaged with YouthBuild USA. I also help in leadership development at local sites in Los Angeles. It’s in this capacity that I was invited to join the YouthBuild USA team at the Stories of Change Impact Lab on May 2, 2012.
Our team was looking for ways to engage and re-engage YouthBuild USA alumni and we worked hard to think of ways to get graduates to share their stories and get the general public to hear them. The team struggled to reach agreement on the purpose of these stories and we kept asking ourselves and each other why graduates would want to share. The process was tough and yet very supportive. It reminded me of a past experience where I was assigned to cover a two-day event and create a five minute video that captured the events main goal—it was intense. Our team had people from all walks of life, all accomplished professionals in their respective fields. Too many points of view in the room can make it difficult to make decisions, but we overcame this challenge and found ways to compromise and move ahead towards our common goal.
I enjoyed the debates and dialogues very much—the structure and process was focused and strategic—very well thought-out. At the end of the week we presented our solution. I was able to be in a room of amazing designers, artists, fellow co-workers and friends. I came out with many resources and made partnerships that I can utilize in the future. Thank you Tomorrow Partners, you guys rock.