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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024

Making A Community Strong and Resourceful

NONPROFITS: Foundation Offers a Slew of Opportunities for Youth

Growing up a “latchkey kid” near the Valencia Park area, native San Diegan DeMilo Young said she remembers a place located on University Avenue where young people like herself could go after school instead of going home to an empty house.

DeMilo Young
Founder, CEO and Executive Director
BIPOC Support Foundation

Young, the founder, executive director and CEO of the nonprofit Black, Indigenous, People Of Color Support Foundation (BSF), said she remembers having a slew of activities at her disposal at the site — art projects, woodshop and skill-building classes.

“I loved being there much more than being alone at home for hours,” Young recalled. “Having this community where I could explore different activities, check out books and do homework in peace was vitally important to me growing up. I suppose a lot of what BIPOC Support Foundation is today stems from my desire to ensure every child has somewhere to grow, and a strong community to support them. I see a lot of myself in the youth and business owners we help.”

Young launched the foundation in 2020, she said, when she looked at what was missing from communities with a large concentration of people of color. She said there was plenty of chatter about social change but few answers as to what that actually looked like.

Young said she knew that Black business owners are less likely to receive loans — either from banks or from private investors — and she said that she later found out they were even less likely to receive government-backed COVID-19 financial aid.

“I reached out to other business owners and educators and told them my plan to offer grants, mentorship and resources to BIPOC business owners as a way to balance out the statistics that saw them more likely to fail,” she said.

Since then, BSF has transformed from solely business support to education for youth — and it is no surprise, Young said. The more research her organization did to ensure its programs were sound, the more the members realized that to strengthen their communities, “we needed to start connecting the dots.”

Boosting the education of youth directly ties into the success of adults in business, Young said, “and all these factors are what makes a community strong and resourceful.”

She said that BSF’s core now revolves around mentorship both to and from local businesses, as it links youth with their environments in ways that bolster myriad aspects of their lives.

Young said one of BSF’s top programs is called “Explore Next Door,” an afterschool program that supports youth living in poverty and low-income districts in San Diego.

The program provides underserved students with hands-on multicultural experiences, behavioral health tools, personal development, community engagement, academic assistance and mentoring. Children learn stress management skills, and about career education and local culture. They also have opportunities to visit local businesses like farms and learn how to get the most out of parks, libraries and museums.

“We also tutor the students in math, English, history, science and any other curriculum they are learning,” said Young, who is currently enrolled in University of San Diego’s nonprofit management program to continue developing her skill set for application to the nonprofit sector.

“One of our expansions to our career focus is to take technical theater positions like audio and lighting and show all the ways these skills can be used in other careers. Utilization of knowledge is important for children to learn so they know that they have a variety of opportunities in a vast array of occupations.”

Young, a social justice, racial justice and equality activist who works to bring attention to injustices facing youths, said BSF also focuses on teaching youth the importance of community with skills in advocacy for self and others, including signing a pledge to be anti-bullying.

Through the support of community and funding organizations – including a range of individual, corporate, and foundation funders such as San Diego Foundation, County of San Diego, the California Coastal Commission, Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, the East County Economic Development Council, Price Philanthropies, Alaska Airlines Foundation and the Harris Foundation — Young said BSF has been able to continue to grow.

“While BSF’s programs are designed to support BIPOC folks, our efforts really benefit the broader San Diego community as a whole,” Young said. “In celebrating cultural diversity and history, centering marginalized perspectives and fostering the success of our underserved neighbors, we weave a stronger, more interconnected societal fabric.”


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