Youth

With the budget tight, Richmond middle school librarian crowd funds for books

In 2019, after eight years as an English teacher at Richmond High School, Rebekah Ponce-Larsen was excited to start a new job as a librarian at Lovonya DeJean Middle School. Being a librarian, she thought, would give her an opportunity to work with kids but in a different way. “I have more time to get to know individual students sometimes than teachers do,” she said. It’s through that personal relationship with students that Ponce-Larsen has transformed the library at DeJean,…

Trick-or-treat returns to the East Bay, with Covid risk sharply reduced but not gone

Robin Donovan’s 13-year-old son didn’t get to trick-or-treat last year because of the pandemic. Instead, he and some friends shared a big bag of candy in the family’s El Cerrito backyard. Donovan’s son wasn’t alone.  “Normally we got a lot of trick-or-treaters, hundreds in the past. Last year we didn’t have any,” Donovan said. “When I talked to people last year, nobody was planning to send their kids trick-or-treating.”  Donovan’s son, 12 at the time, was old enough to understand…

Richmond expands job opportunities year-round for city youth

Cinthia Hernandez was on the verge of dropping out of high school when she joined Richmond’s YouthWORKS in 2008. She credits the job program with much of her later success — an internship with the California Attorney General’s Office, a bachelor’s degree in social welfare from UC Berkeley, and her current position of program assistant for the project that helped shape her.  “The summer youth employment program was able to open so many doors for me,” Hernandez said.  Over the…

Rich City Talent takes center stage at Bridge FilmSpace

A steady drumbeat sounded through the doors of the Bridge FilmSpace studio as the band members of “2morrows June” prepared for their performance. Hip Hop Artist Markee “Kee Beez” Webb, entered in his gray Under Armour tracksuit and black shades, hyped to perform his latest single, “Turnt Up.” Richmond-based filmmaker Joaquin Xavier queued his films in a browser to be displayed on the projector screen. After mic checks, quick video playbacks and soundchecks, the Rich City Talent Show got under…

RYSE Commons: building on dreams of Richmond youth

September 2019 marks a new beginning for the RYSE Center. One of Richmond’s most prominent youth organizations, the center recently broke ground on construction for its new, 37,000 square foot building, known as RYSE Commons. RYSE first opened in 2008. Conceived as a sanctuary from urban violence, it is a place where youth can work, seek therapy, hold discussions, learn new skills, and create art in a safe space. Now, 11 years later, RYSE Commons is a product of ideas…

City council tightens vaping regulations over health concerns

Richmond’s City Council unanimously approved a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes, including vapes, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t deemed safe. The measure, passed Tuesday night amid mounting nationwide concern over harm to health, will go into effect in 2020. There have been six vaping-related deaths reported in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Contra Costa County has seen one suspected case of vaping-related illness, according to Dr. Chris…