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With Creativity and Technology, Long Beach YMCA Youth Institute Puts Kids on a Path to Success • Long Beach Post News

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Les Peters, Executive Director of the YMCA of Greater Long Beach, said: “We use technology like an expensive paintbrush, so young people see computers as something they can create. We really focus on the tools of technology to help young people for development.”

Each year, Long Beach Unified School District students are selected for the program following a competitive application process. Peters said the program is focused on keeping young people in transition from middle school to high school on the path to graduation and, ultimately, their chances of earning a college degree. According to his website, the Youth Institute’s primary goal is to “improve academic performance and increase interest in post-secondary education among low-income, culturally diverse urban high school youth.” to stimulate

“We are looking for the type of young people who need this program,” explains Peters. “This is a program of compassion, kindness and compassion in the sense that young people need special support systems to stay in school, attend school every day, graduate and go to college. Having a graduation rate in the late 90s is a big achievement for us.”

The Youth Institute provides students with the opportunity to learn in a variety of environments, free of charge. The program includes a bonding trip to Mammoth Mountain, allowing students to explore different environments and learn outside the traditional classroom setting.

Back at the YMCA, students have access to a range of technologies in spaces designed by students, for students. Their high-tech computer lab is lined with iMac computers with cutting-edge editing and design software. Students are given the opportunity to explore video storytelling, video production, graphic design, sound editing, and more. You can even access a 3D printer to bring your designs to life.

Each class creates a magazine over the course of the experience. It is created, designed and laid out by students. In addition to the computer labs, Youth Institute members also have access to music recording rooms. Here you can record your own music, podcasts, or other projects using state-of-the-art equipment. Recording equipment and instruments were donated to the Youth Institute by world-famous rappers and Long Beach natives Vince Staples and Snoop Dogg.

Since its founding in 2001 by Bob Kaveza, The Youth Institute has earned a national reputation and has spawned similar programs around the world. To date, 14 youth institutes have been launched across California and across state lines at his YMCA locations in Washington, South Dakota, Canada and Cambodia.

Nineteen-year-old Bryan Guteirrez began attending youth institute in 2017, the summer after eighth grade. He credits the program with helping him come out of his shell and find a new passion for videography.

“Honestly, this is the biggest change in my life,” Gutierrez said. “In eighth grade, I was always a very shy kid and got into trouble here and there. After that first summer, my sister enrolled me in this program. It was really nice of you to do it, not only for your tech skills, but also to develop yourself to be a better person.”

As a graduate, the Youth Institute offered Gutierrez his first job. He has remained involved in the program over the years and is now a technical instructor.

“That’s what we always preach here. The best way to learn is to teach,” Gutierrez said. “Not only are we still learning, but so are the freshmen who are being introduced to photography and movies and all these different programs that we offer. It’s like a perfect circle moment there.”

The 2022 class will graduate earlier this month and transition to graduates for the next academic year of the program. The YMCA remains a resource for these students throughout their high school career, guiding them on their way to a diploma.

“When they become Youth Institute graduates, this will be their after-school program,” Peters said. “This is their social support. It’s not just a place to come and play, it’s also a place for parents, aunts, uncles and neighbors to be served. When young people are selected for this program, we seeks young people who have difficulties and hardships in life and need special support.”

The Greater Long Beach YMCA is located at 1900 Long Beach Blvd. Visit their website for more information on the services they offer.

At Vince Staples’ Youth Music Studio in Long Beach, Snoop Dogg provides production tips for up-and-coming musicians and rappers.

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