DOWNTOWN L.A. Calif. () — Local business owner Syd Stewart is making a difference in downtown Los Angeles with the nonprofit Better Youth.
Better Youth is a nonprofit organization that offers yearly programs in entertainment fields. The organization specifically aims to provide access to those between the ages of 16 and 24 who are at risk or system-impacted.
“Tools, resources, support can lead to the stability of system-impacted youth, particularly for foster youth, that will stabilize them professionally and personally because we see them as the next-gen powerhouses,” said Stewart, founder and CEO of Better Youth, Inc.
Stewart founded Better Youth in 2010, and since then, she says the organization has affected over 12,000 foster and at risk youth. She says they not only provide the tools and the knowledge to the youth, but they also help them secure jobs in their perspective fields after they graduate and receive their state issued certificate.
“I think it makes it unique because we’re providing opportunities, but it really is about building creative confidence, under the guise of storytelling,” said Stewart.
“When you’re actually taking kids and giving them the tools and then helping them get a paid job, because wow, that’s like a film school plus!” said Raoul Peter Mongilardi, advisory board chair at Better Youth.
Jeffrey Covington says he came to the program during a period when he was homeless and in transitional housing. He says he wanted to get into gaming but didn’t have access. He is now a freshman in college and has designed his own video game.
“They got me learning the basics of video game making, and they got me basically a mentor to guide me in my process and my journey of becoming a game dev, and it put me on a path to go to college and more,” said Covington.
The nonprofit recently held a graduation ceremony, where students had an opportunity to show off their hard work.
“I’m a history maker. This is history here today,” said Stewart. “With all of these young people that are here with their family members and guardians and friends, this is history.”
For more information, visit betteryouth.org.