REAP INC. Partners With Oregon Health Authority to Form the Statewide Youth Advisory Council to Support Schools During Pandemic Recovery

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REAP INC. Partners With Oregon Health Authority to Form the Statewide Youth Advisory Council to Support Schools During Pandemic Recovery

October 25
10:24 2022
REAP INC. Partners With Oregon Health Authority to Form the Statewide Youth Advisory Council to Support Schools During Pandemic Recovery

Founded in 2001, REAP is a year-round multicultural youth leadership program committed to empowering the next wave of leaders. For over two decades, the innovative venture has offered multifaceted programming designed to uplift resilient leaders encouraged to achieve their dreams. Most recently, REAP has been focusing on school communities with families in challenging economic circumstances and non-English speaking families, as children of these families face the most challenges in negotiating school and life.

When asked about the motivation behind such noble advocacy, the founders insightfully said, “The desire to transform young lives and give the students who represent our most marginalized student populations a voice and foundation to encourage leadership.”

As part of the organization’s intent to disrupt the status quo and provide underprivileged youth with leadership development and a solid chance to fulfill their goals and dreams, the founders recently partnered with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to announce the establishment of a Statewide Youth Advisory Council entrusted with assisting schools and communities with COVID-19 school-based recovery. 

“Our goal is for underserved students to want to access our services and the way to do that is to build our youth-adult partnerships and listen to what youth around Oregon are saying they need right now,” says Lev Schneidman, the program coordinator for the COVID-19 School Based Recovery Funds. “We are beyond excited to partner with REAP, an organization with over 20 years of experience providing multicultural youth empowerment and leadership.”

Appointed to serve on the council and lead decision-making for $1 million in recovery investment are 20 youths aged 15-19 recruited among hundreds of applicants across the state. The 20 youths were meticulously selected by OHA and REAP to represent 19 schools and 12 counties. Fifty percent of the youth represent a rural or frontier zip code. All council members identify with a community disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including communities of color, tribal communities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ2SIA+ communities, and youth involved with the child welfare system.

Since its formation in June, the Statewide Youth Advisory Council has held meetings four times. It has already established values related to advancing health equity in the wake of the pandemic. They began identifying several needs created/exacerbated by COVID-19, such as difficulties transitioning back to physical classes – including socialization and student behavior challenges. They also examined various issues such as lack of engagement opportunities in schools and communities, food insecurity, housing affordability, financial instability due to job loss or issues finding and maintaining work, racism, and other forms of oppression and the increased need for mental health and other healthcare services.

The Statewide Youth advisory council has also received support from 13 community-based organizations across the state, including Citizens for Safe Schools in Klamath County, Rogue Climate and Rogue Action Center in Jackson County and the Center for African Immigrants and Refugees in Multnomah County.

Although the Youth Advisory Council is set to expire in a year, by late fall 2022, the council hopes to have directions and guidance on adequately investing funds to support the school and community on the path to recovery and wholesomeness. “The students and their experiences humble me as we shape a path for the future of councils and Covid relief. There is so much passion in every conversation about how to better the entirety of our state, not just the larger cities,” says Anderson DuBoise, Strategic Initiatives Manager at REAP Inc.

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