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Glendale Youth Coalition faces uncertain future

Gary Moskowitz

When members of the Glendale Youth Coalition asked the city and

school district for better services and venues for the community’s

young people, they didn’t receive the response they were looking for.

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The city and school district yanked a combined $70,000 in funding.

The city has opted to redirect its efforts toward summer youth

employment programs, while the school district has said it cannot

afford to fund the coalition anymore in light of state budget cuts.

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Coalition member and former president Matt Gangi, 18, said that

decision negates four years of hard work in getting the coalition off

the ground.

“I’m upset. A supervisor has always told us what we could and

could not do and we were always left in the dark,” Gangi said. “It’s

not that they cut the funding that bothers me as much as the fact

that they didn’t include us in the decision.”

Gangi met with about 10 coalition members Tuesday night and

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discussed plans to keep the coalition going. Members plan to meet

with the Human Relations Coalition today to discuss a cigarette bill

and curfew laws. Gangi said the coalition will also hold a public

meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Glendale’s Central Public Library.

The coalition is a three-tiered operation made up of a provider

network of 200 local organizations, 14 youth members of Glendale’s

Youth Voice and an 11-member executive committee.

Youth Voice member Amador Solis, 17, said the group is considering

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applying for a grant to become a nonprofit organization independent

of the city and school district.

“We want to show that we can persevere. We appreciate their

support but we want to keep it going and do it on our own if we can,”

Amador said.

The majority of the $70,000 went toward salary and benefits for a

coalition executive director, according to City Councilman Gus Gomez.

The city will probably take its contribution of $35,000 and use it

for summer employment opportunities, Gomez said.

“We can’t afford to ignore the youth, but we need to make sure

money is going toward keeping them occupied and away from trouble,”

Gomez said.

Nello Iacono, director of Parks, Recreation & Community Services

in Glendale, and members of an internal city team gave a presentation

on youth strategies to city council members Tuesday. The presentation

highlighted adult involvement, after-school alternatives, cultural

understanding, day care, low-cost transportation and delivery of

youth services.

“I hope they will find a way to survive. From my perspective, the

Youth Coalition has been the only body trying to coordinate efforts

of youth services in the community,” Iacono said. “What’s important

is that we now find funding for youth employment programs and the

critical issue is that these strategies are out there.”

Former executive director Gabrielle Winter sent a July 15 letter

to coalition members stating the proposed elimination of funding to

the coalition. The letter also said that the council felt the

coalition’s intended mission had not been achieved.

Gomez on Wednesday said he wasn’t sure what the initial mission of

the coalition was, but that the goal is to make sure the youth of

Glendale have enough activities to keep them occupied and away from

trouble.


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