The California Endowment announced Monday Dean Welliver, a LGBTQ Organizer and Advocate from South Kern, was selected by his community to serve on the foundation’s President’s Youth Council.
Welliver, a former Kern Sol News youth reporter and a current Sociology major the University of California, Berkeley, will be one of 12 youth on the council, which informs the foundation’s decision making and provides feedback on community needs and impact, TCE said in a news release.
“The PYC has provided me with an opportunity to be a champion for youth in Kern County, the Central Valley, and California as a whole,” said Welliver.
The PYC is made up of youth leaders that provide authentic youth perspective, thought leadership and candid feedback on The California Endowment’s strategies in pursuit of health and justice, TCE said in a news release.
“As a young person growing up in Kern County, I constantly felt that decision makers were taking agency away from youth to determine what we needed to be successful,” Welliver said. “Across California, I often felt that the needs of the Central Valley were overlooked because of a political climate that makes youth organizing challenging.”
Welliver has been involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy and organizing since he was sixteen. He was a youth trainer in high school with the Gay Straight Alliance Network of Southern California, training groups of LGBTQ and allied youth about relative topics and rights, according to TCE.
He was a volunteer for the Gay and Lesbian Center of Bakersfield and worked as a canvasser and phone banker for the Dolores Huerta Foundation. He also worked as an Equality Organizer to mobilize youth and adults to advocate for policies and services that address health inequities and school climate affecting LGBTQ students in Kern County.
The PYC was created by The Endowment’s President and CEO Robert K. Ross seven years ago. The 12-member council’s goal is to integrate youth input and decision making into The Endowment’s current 10-year Building Healthy Communities plan and its next strategic plan to launch in April 2021.
“More often than not, information about the effectiveness and impact of our work comes in the form of thoughtfully crafted memos from staff, PowerPoint presentations, and glossy evaluation reports with charts and graphics, all of which have been carefully and surgically created and edited,” said The Endowment’s President and CEO Robert K. Ross. “These young leaders provide me with thoughtful, yet candid feedback that has pushed me and the foundation out of our strategic comfort zones to be more courageous about using our foundation’s brand and voice in the advocacy arena.”
TCE said former PYC members have proven to be young leaders across the state that have led positive, state-level and statewide policy change.
“A prime example of this is evidenced by the success of California’s common-sense school discipline reform efforts to move dollars from incarceration to prevention, for which youth played an integral role and resulted in significant local and state policies,” TCE said in a news release.
PYC members range in age from 16-25 years old and each serves an average of three to six-year terms. PYC members represent underserved communities across California and are nominated by their respective communities to serve on the council.
Youth from Fresno, Stockton, Santa Ana, Sacramento, Richmond, City Heights, Boyle Heights, Merced, Long Beach and Pomona were also selected.
Photo courtesy of The California Endowment
Kern Sol News is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.