Kandace Vallejo, Youth Rise Texas

Adult incarceration and deportation cause social and emotional issues that often get overlooked for the children of imprisoned family members. Kandace Vallejo says, “children who have to suffer the weight of their parent’s sentence alone can feel stigmatized, unprotected and unsupported, which can lead to depression, substances abuse, or suicide.” Kandace launched the Youth Rise Texas initiative, and the project, “Young People Waging Resistance” (YPWR), for teen children of incarcerated or deported parents. 

Each summer, through YPWR, Youth Rise Texas facilitates an eight-week internship for 5 teens. This internship teaches strategies for changing pressing social issues like inequality, immigration, and mass incarceration. The teens volunteer with community groups and carry out oral history research to better understand parental incarceration and deportation. They then turn the research into a monologue series as a way to share their stories. The internship will be followed up by year round mentoring.

Kandace and YPWR will support youth in overcoming the hardship of family separation while cultivating the next generation of leaders. The current internship session started in late June and will end in August 2015, followed by mentoring during the fall and spring. This Grant will help Kandace to maintain her website, facilitate the upcoming mentoring, and run the program annually.