Upswell impact: Youth Institute of Long Beach

Upswell impact: Youth Institute of Long Beach

// By Jacqueline Brennan

/ By Tamieka Briscoe /

It seems like just yesterday that we were rocking out on ukuleles and experiencing a whole new world with the help of virtual reality goggles. But it’s been nearly six months since we met in November 2018 for Upswell Los Angeles.

We’ve caught up with some of our youngest, yet dearest friends from the Youth Institute of Long Beach and their news is so exciting we couldn’t wait to share it with the Upswell community! You’ll recall that during Upswell 2018, the students of the Youth Institute were on site offering tech demonstrations. They also took to the Upswell Main Stage as panelists, along with president and CEO of YMCA of the USA, Kevin Washington.

Connections made at Upswell are designed to spark important conversations, build relationships, and have lasting impact. The Youth Institute participants not only made great impressions on us, but also on some of the organization heads they encountered during the event.

Bob Cabeza, Vice President of Community Development for the YMCA of Greater Long Beach, and Executive Director of the Youth Institute, shared his excitement about the students having the opportunity to participate in Upswell. “Upswell was a very pivotal event for our youth and our YMCA Youth Institute program,” Cabeza said.

He explained that Kevin Washington was so impressed by the students, that they were invited to be keynotes at the Global Youth Conference in London this summer. Five of the students that attended Upswell will be traveling to Europe to attend the conference where over 5,000 young people from over 100 countries will gather to discuss global issues affecting young people, such as the environment, workforce, health and social justice.

“Then we are taking them to Paris, Switzerland, and The Netherlands to discuss what they learned and pitch a project to a corporate global funder,” Cabeza explained.

Additionally, while at Upswell, Cabeza said the Youth Institute of Long Beach were able to connect with the executive director of the Los Angeles County Housing and Community Development Department.

“She suggested that we connect to one of the low-income housing developments in Long Beach, Carmelitos Housing, to look into starting a new Youth Institute,” Cabeza revealed.

They did and, as a result, raised funds necessary to start the program that will begin this summer and serve 30 of the lowest income teens in Long Beach year-round.

“None of these things would have happened to our program if not for participating in Upswell,” Cabeza said.

Do you have your own Upswell Impact story?
Let us know be leaving a comment, sending us an email (, or tweeting us at @weareupswell.

Tamieka Briscoe is an associate at Independent Sector.

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