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One Year On: Riverside's Youth Job Corps Celebrates Milestone Success

Celebrating its first anniversary, Riverside's Youth Job Corps has transformed $4.4 million of state funding into life-changing job opportunities for the city's youth.

Mayors Lock Dawson presents Xitlaly Ayala with a certificate of recognition for her participation in the Job Corps Fellow program with California Volunteers (Courtesy City of Riverside).

One of the proudest moments during my time as mayor was the launch of the Youth Job Corps in the City of Riverside. Last year, Riverside received $4.4 million from the State to implement a youth workforce program aimed at providing job opportunities and career pathways to young people ages 18-30 within city government and a few non-profit partners. We were able to turn this partnership into 100 jobs and counting for youth who have not had access to job opportunities and those who were greatly affected by the pandemic. This program is a favorite of mine because we can visibly see the direct impacts for the next generation of our workforce. We can see the hope of our young people building their careers with real experience.

Two weeks ago, we celebrated the first year of the program with a press conference and pinning ceremony hosted with our State’s Chief Service Officer, Josh Fryday, who oversees the California Service Corps, which includes the AmeriCorps, College Corps, Climate Action Corps, and Youth Job Corps. We heard from various leaders in our community who have witnessed firsthand how impactful this program has been for their departments or organizations and how we can even make it better for everyone involved. More importantly, we heard from program participants, including Xitlaly Ayala, a fellow hosted by my office, about the impacts on their lives and the new level of hope it’s given them. I’ve invited Xitlaly to share a written reflection on her time in the program as part of this article.

“As a Job Corps Fellow with California Volunteers, my journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. My journey first began in the midst of the competitive landscape of today's job market, unable to start my career in a political and administrative setting because of my lack of experience. The frustration of being unable to get my foot in the door grew as months passed.

Enter the Job Corps Fellowship – a door of opportunity that swung wide open, offering not just a chance to gain experience but to immerse oneself in the very essence of community service and civic engagement. That’s what makes this fellowship program so special: it’s the ability to match fellows with a variety of opportunities that highlight a vast array of experiences and talents.

As a native of the Inland Empire, the decision to serve where I live, to nurture the soil from which I have grown, and to offer my talents to its people was important to me. Through my fellowship, I have had the opportunity to do so; I continue to learn the day-to-day tasks as a fellow in Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson’s Office, connect with community members one-on-one, bring to life outreach programs for Riversiders, and so much more!

As I continue to evolve through this fellowship, I hope my story serves as a testament to the boundless opportunities that exist within our city because Riverside isn't just a city – it's a city of opportunity, where dedication and passion are met with open arms and endless possibilities.” - Xitlaly Ayala

As fellows such as Xitlaly continue to find success, I will continue to advocate for more funding and programs bringing direct benefits to our city. The Youth Job Corps Program will see sustained investment by the state, delivering more opportunities to serve our community locally for the foreseeable future. If there is one thing Riverside is known for, it’s our heart for service, and I am proud we are finding meaningful ways for our young people to contribute.