What is YEJA?
YEJA stands for the Youth Environmental Justice Alliance. YEJA is an after school leadership development program. YEJA builds leadership and political analysis with low-income youth and youth of color in the Portland Metro Area through popular education workshops and campaign development. All YEJA activities are currently virtual, expanding our work to folks across Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties.
Who is involved in YEJA?
Each year, there are 4–8 YEJA Interns who attend bi-weekly meetings to discuss and address social justice issues year round. YEJA Interns are paid an annual stipend of $320/month, for approximately 16 hours of monthly engagement. Additionally, Serve the People (STP) is an annual summer leadership program that engages up to 40+ youth leaders in our community.
YEJA has a dedicated OPAL staff member, the YEJA Community Organizer, who organizes members and supports their chosen campaigns. As opportunities arise from transportation agencies, coalition partners, and jobs or internships, the YEJA organizer may reach out to YEJA Interns, STP participants, and others in our network.
Occasionally, the YEJA Organizer may request support from volunteers or be holding events that are open to a broader audience, so do not hesitate to reach out if you have interest in joining or contributing to our programming in other ways!
What do YEJA members do?
YEJA members have participated in the YouthPass campaign to get free transit to all Portland Metro-area students since 2015. Current areas of focus for YEJA members include continuing the YouthPass for All campaign, examining systems of power and oppression, and using intersectional creative activism. At our meetings, we undergo political education and leadership development workshops, share space with various youth-centered organizations around Portland, and build a fun, inclusive community. YEJA members have opportunities to engage with large projects, attend conferences, and make new connections.
YEJA continues to center youth voices and power within agencies and government bodies like Metro, TriMet, PBOT, and the City of Portland through meetings with leadership and direct action. Through strong partnerships, campaign leadership, and social media organizing, YEJA has found a uniquely powerful voice in the local climate and transportation justice movement. Members have also chosen to address exclusionary discipline for students of color and restorative justice in their community.
When does YEJA happen?
This year, YEJA intern recruitment runs from October to December, and new interns will be selected in January for the 2022 cohort. They will serve until December 2022. Currently, YEJA interns meet virtually twice a week from 4 pm until 6 pm on Tuesday and Thursday.
How can I get involved with YEJA?
If you’re a high-school age youth (14–18) in the Portland Metro area, we'll be recruiting for the 2023 YEJA cohort in July 2021. Join our email list or follow us on social media to be notified when recruitment begins. Email us at [email protected] for any questions.