Fostering Youth Leadership and Community Connectivity


At the heart of Watsonville, a vibrant community pulses with the energy and potential of its youth. Within this dynamic landscape, the Watsonville Asset Builders Collaborative is creating a space of empowerment dedicated to nurturing and strengthening the inherent capabilities of young leaders.

Empowering Youth Through the 41 Developmental Assets Framework

At the core of the collaborative's mission lies the 41 Developmental Assets framework, a powerful tool designed to cultivate the essential skills, values, and relationships necessary for youth to thrive. By identifying both external supports and internal strengths, the collaborative aims to equip young people with the tools they need to make informed choices and lead fulfilling lives.

Forging Connections Through Peer Leadership

Central to this endeavor is the Youth Leadership Group, a dynamic coalition of young visionaries facilitated by the Youth Action Network. Together with adult allies and peers from partner organizations such as Empower Watsonville, Community Action Board: Luna y Sol, Teen Action Council, and Jóvenes Sanos, these youth leaders work tirelessly to break down barriers and foster peer-to-peer connections across Watsonville.

A Leadership Mixer Sparks Transformation

On February 2nd, the community witnessed a landmark event as youth leaders from diverse backgrounds converged for a leadership mixer. With a shared commitment to the 41 Developmental Assets framework, these young changemakers seized the opportunity to share their vision and co-create initiatives aimed at enriching their community.

Empowering Voices, Igniting Change

The impact of this gathering was profound. Of the 27 youth in attendance, 16 expressed a heightened sense of connection with their peers, while 17 expressed a desire to continue participating in such transformative events. Yohara Ayala, from Community Action Board: Luna y Sol, reflected on the transformative effect of the mixer, highlighting the newfound sense of responsibility and empowerment displayed by one of her organization's youth members.

Paving the Way for a Brighter Future

With the success of the leadership mixer, youth leaders and their adult allies are poised to take their advocacy to the next level. On March 26th, Nick Merolla from the Watsonville City Youth Center, alongside youth leaders, crafted a compelling speech outlining a shared vision of empowering local youth. This initiative aims to secure approval for the proclamation and foster ongoing collaboration, establishing holistic growth and resilience among Watsonville community’s youth and adult allies. Standing before the Watsonville City Council, they passionately advocated for the formal adoption of the 41 Developmental Assets framework across all youth-serving organizations. Their collective voice, amplified by shared purpose and unwavering determination, promises to shape a future where every young person in Watsonville has the opportunity to thrive. Together, they are forging a path towards a future where every young person can realize their full potential and contribute meaningfully to the world around them.

By Malena Ronga and Amanda Gamban