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San Marcos High School ~ Santa Barbara, CA

The King's Page

The King's Page

Who Does Your Activist Heart Beat For?

Who+Does+Your+Activist+Heart+Beat+For%3F
Chelsea Miao

Do you ever find yourself lost in thought? Have you been diagnosed with a malignant case of daydreaming? Do you lie awake at night…yearning? Well, my friend you might just be an emerging activist looking for a cause—nay—scouring for an organization to fight for, for a community to support!

Don’t worry, there is a cure. All you have to do is take our super easy-peasy three to four step quiz to find which social justice heartthrob is the right fit for you.

Virtual Opportunities

There are plenty of ways for students to get in touch with groups all across California, the nation, and even the rest of the world. 

Media

Calling all student journalists! There is a large variety of social justice media sites to get involved with. The state, through the California Library System, financially supports many of these groups through the ethnic media grant. 

Interested students should be encouraged to look into the list of supported groups on the California Library website. But, here are a few highlights!

East Bay Sanctuary

East Bay was created to give legal and social support to low-income immigrants. They not only provide services to fulfill basic needs, they also fight for campaigns to make real change in policy making. Volunteers can help translate documents, work on outreach through social-media, teach English or US Civics to future citizens, or write articles for their newsletter and other media sources. 

Indian Voices

The Indian Voices Media project was designed to amplify indigenous voices. They fight to influence powerful policy makers, and provide education material to their marginalized constituents. Find internship and volunteer opportunities on their website!

AsAm News

AsAm News is filled with hard-hitting pieces about the discrimination Asian American communities face, balanced with the joy of telling Asian American stories. One of their main features is their series of “Bad Ass Asians” showcasing AAPI success in topics ranging from politics to music and entertainment. They are open to interns year round.

Other

Not interested in the media? Looking to make change on the scene? No problem! You might want to consider some of these programs.

TED Talk Translations

Know a second language? Help TED make education a global resource by translating subtitles into other languages. This is a great way to not only watch presentations from world-renowned change makers, but it is a worthy cause to help connect an international community.

DoSomething.Org

This is probably the broadest organization of the list. Also making it one of the most innovative! Right now, the group is generally focused on preparing young voters for the 2024 election season. However, they have a long series of campaigns available to support. By completing even small actions for each campaign (donating a piece of clothing, contacting decision makers), students can receive service hours and volunteer credit nationally.

Amnesty Decoders

Like our last one, Decoders might be one of the more creative opportunities on the list. Previous programs had volunteers who had access to the internet using their devices to expose human rights violations. Volunteers combed through anonymous tweets to identify which ones contained threats or slurs, and they also used satellite imaging to locate at-risk settlements in Sudan. Unfortunately there aren’t active volunteer programs right now, but they typically pop up around every year. Plus, it’s also a great place to receive the latest news about humanitarian efforts. 

If Over 18

For those over 18, there might be a few more options available to you!


National Hotlines

After completing a training course, online volunteers can become operators for crisis hotlines like the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the Crisis Text Hotline.

 

United Nations Translators

Yes, the United Nations. For those who are interested in international policy, and who speak another language, you can help the UN translate important documents for global communities. 

 

Santa Barbara Opportunities

For those who prefer to volunteer a little closer to home, you’re in luck! Santa Barbara has a great network of innovative and amazing non-profits.

 

For a longer list of volunteer opportunities with broader topics, be sure to check out the YouthWell volunteer list. There is a great and comprehensive series of organizations with causes ranging from environmental advocacy to sports and recreation.

 

YouthWell also has their own teen volunteer program targeted towards addressing mental health awareness in schools. It’s a great way to learn how to build campaigns, get certified in mental health crisis training, and meet students from all across the county. Their Youth Advisory Board applications are open now!

 

Youth Making Change

YMC is a program under the Fund for Santa Barbara non-profit. The Fund itself is a grassroots organization that financially strengthens environmental, political, and social movements in Santa Barbara county. They have their own adult funding programs, but students can also participate in grant making in the Youth Making Change board. Youth-led organizations can apply to the YMC grant and receive up to 3,000 dollars worth of funding. Members will read through applications, interview activist groups, and ultimately decide which will receive grants. $15,000 is given out each year.

Senior Kiela Luke, a second year board member, described what it was like to provide teen organizations with this kind of financial support. When discussing this year’s grantees, Luke mentioned how often youth-driven initiatives are overlooked. “You could tell it was one of the first times they had been offered something like this,” said Luke. 

Youth Making Change is a great entry point into the Santa Barbara non-profit scene! Board members have the chance to interact with teen social justice groups all across the county and handle real finances. You would be hard pressed to find another opportunity in the county that allows students to make 15,000 dollar decisions. Applications for the 2024 – 2025 board are now open!

SB Youth Council

Established in 1994, the Youth Council was formed to amplify student voices in local government. Composed of fifteen members, each aged 13 to 19, the group provides the Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation department with the youth perspective. Not just talk, the council creates meaningful impact in the community. They host initiatives like youth speak-outs that connect Santa Barbara government leaders with local teens. Most recently, after listening to students at their speak-outs, they’ve been working towards a firearm storage safety ordinance.

STESA

Standing Together to End Sexual Assault is a non-profit that works to prevent and respond to sexual assault in Santa Barbara. They hope to provide healing to survivors, and create lasting social change to eliminate sexual violence. On their website, information about legal and medical options are available, along with contacts for a STESA advocate to support the process. Those 16 and over can volunteer in the crisis hotline. The organization just finished its last training group between October and December. After certification, advocates commit to a weekly six hour shift. Volunteers can also work under the speaker’s bureau, the Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign, office support, fundraising, and the newsletter. 

Your Heartthrob

So get out there! Every student, every individual, and every story has something to offer. Before concluding, Luke also had some insight to share about the search for youth spaces and advocacy: “I’m more open to the idea that there are opportunities available for us if we’re willing to search for them.” 

Although, before you apply anywhere, you may want to consider why you are doing it in the first place. In the end, volunteering is volunteering, Constituents will probably receive the same benefits, even if your motivation is self-interested. However, why wouldn’t you want a two for one bargain? Passion is basically a corporate buzzword nowadays, but the chance to find something you are excited about, while simultaneously being able to dedicate yourself to the people around you will always be a good deal.

Don’t send that email yet, take the time to consider why. Is it because you want notoriety? Another bullet for a resume? Or is it because this is work you are excited to be a part of?

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About the Contributor
Chelsea Miao, Staff Writer
Chelsea is currently a junior at San Marcos High School. This is her first time taking Journalism and writing for the King’s Page! On campus she enjoys participating in clubs like the Gender and Sexuality Alliance, and is also a student in the AAPLE Academy. After the bell rings, catch her practicing ballet and classical Chinese dance, volunteering at the Sea Center, and on the Youth Making Change board. If you’re really lucky though, you’ll find her in online Clue games and David Attenborough fan clubs.
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