The YouthPass to the Future campaign launch on November 14th was a huge success. Youth Environmental Justice Alliance members told their personal stories of accessing transit, led the crowd in chants, performed a song, and debuted a new campaign video. See more photos of the event here.
You organization can become an endorser of YouthPass to the Future – click here.
Elected officials, school administrators, parents, families, and supporters from a variety of organizations joined the event. YEJA and OPAL wish to extend our sincerest thanks for the support of guest speakers:
State Treasurer Ted Wheeler
State Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer (District 46)
Reynolds School Board Member Diego Hernandez
Lisa Frank, Advocate with Bicycle Transportation Alliance
Lexi, Member of Multnomah Youth Commission
Jake Warr, Trimet
Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon
Bicycle Transportation Alliance
Safe Routes to School
Transportation for Oregon’s Future
East Portland Action Plan
Oregon Environmental Council
Chris Smith – citizen activist and member of the Portland Sustainability Commission
Reynolds School District
David Douglas School District
Parkrose School District
As well as our volunteers:
Cathy Bernatt, videographer
Heather Owens, Sound
Andre Post & Ana Choi, Photographers
Arthur Smid and Eleana Binder, Communications
With over 65 attendees, low-income youth and youth of color at YEJA demanded permanent funding for the current YouthPass program and called for the expansion of YouthPass to East Portland Schools like David Douglas and Parkrose.
60% of PPS students rely on TriMet and YouthPass to get to school. Student transit access is threatened each year by budget cuts. East Portland schools do not have YouthPass. With large numbers of low-income people, immigrant families and communities of color in East Portland, students demand equity. YouthPass leads to improved school attendance and access to extracurricular activities, jobs, health and cultural services. Every student should have equal access to this lifeline and opportunity, regardless of race, class, or where they live.
Jeff Deng, a senior at David Douglas High School and a leader at YEJA, said, “We don’t have YouthPass at David Douglas, and it’s hard to participate in clubs and after school programs. The activity bus is very limiting. Since my family works late, I can’t rely on them to get a ride. Public transit plays a huge role in my life – if I miss the school bus, or need to get home from club meeting, I have to ride TriMet. But it’s hard to afford it as a high school student.”
Diego Hernandez spoke at the campaign launch. A former OPAL organizer, he now sits on the Reynolds School Board. “Being a part of an organization like OPAL is an amazing way to win,” Diego said. “When you’re not being listened to, you ramp it up. Don’t be afraid to fight and protest.”
YEJA and our allies demand equal access to YouthPass, and a committed investment in student success. This effort seeks to influence TriMet, City of Portland, Metro Regional Government, Multnomah County, and local school districts to come together to address this inequity.
“I can really see the disparities in the communities I represent,” said Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer. “We are going to keep working on this. Your stories about taking hours to get to jobs and activities are critical.”
See more photos on OPAL’s Facebook Album