Summit reaches out to Latino youth
By Naima Ford

Creating a way for young Latino men to succeed in education and life was the mission that led to the Latino Male Youth Summit on May 17 at Wilmer Amina Carter High School. The program, created by the Rialto Unified School District, was an opportunity for the district, local businessmen, educators and administrators to reach out to male Latino students. All were excited to be a part of the event.

“It was very, very powerfully moving,” said Lupe Andrade, Summit coordinator and RUSD Director of Accelerated Achievement and English Learner Programs.

Statistics show that 57% of Latino males 25 and over had a high school diploma, compared to 90% of white, non-Hispanic, and 83% of all other non-Hispanics. Also, 2% of Latinos 25 and over have earned a bachelor's degree or higher level of education, compared to 30% of all males 25 and over. For that reason, RUSD decided to do something to alter that trend in the district.

"Today's summit should serve as the impetus among educators, parents, guardians, and leaders in the Rialto community that ignites a new movement to address challenges of our Latino male youth,” said RUSD Superintendent Edna Davis Herring, “It is the responsibility of each of us to bring to reality the words of Cesar Chavez, ‘Si se puede!’”

The free, all day summit was made up of a series of speakers and workshops from the community and Southern California who spoke directly to the shared experiences and future hopes of the young men. Nearly 400 students and parents participated, listening to speakers and asking questions pertaining to graduating successfully from high school and college.

The goal of the summit was to ensure that boys knew that college was a possibility and show them how to get there. The keynote speakers were Manuel Medrano, KTLA reporter and former U.S. attorney, Dr. Peter Negroni, Senior Vice President of Relationship Development, College Board, and Dr. Arturo Delgado, Superintendent of San Bernardino City Unified School District. They spoke about their journey to success as Latino men in the United States.

“You need to invest in something, start with your education, that is something they cannot take from you,” said Delgado.
He and many of the other speakers and panelists were impressed by the interests and enthusiasm from parents and students.

Many of them were considering college, but on Saturday they received a close up view of where college can lead.

Speakers, such as Delgado, recounted stories of how he grew up poor and experienced many struggles. According to Delgado it was the encouragement and love of his hard working father that helped him get to college. According to Andrade, many of the young men remarked that they didn’t know there were so many successful Latino men in the area.

The summit had three workshops discussing how to successfully complete high school, how to prepare for college, and a motivational discussion about culture where each of the panelists were Latino males who discussed how they maintained pride in their culture and themselves in college and their careers.

“When they ask ‘what good can come out of Rialto?’, students you should stand proud and say ‘Yes, I am, good and I’m from Rialto,’” encouraged Delgado.

There was also much encouragement for the parents. According to Andrade, many of the parents wanted their children to go to college but were not sure how to pay for it. College advisors from Crafton Hills Community College, University of California, Riverside, California State University San Bernardino and others were there to answer questions and offer themselves as resources to parents and students.

With a good start, summit organizers hope to make next year’s summit just as effective, informative and motivational.

“We’re in this together so we can make every young man all he can be,” said Herring.
‘The Happiest Place on Date Street'; church celebrates opening of Youth Education Center
By Cynthia Mendoza

What started out as a small, 15 member Bible study group, is now a 2,400 member church and still growing.
On Sunday, May 18, Ecclesia Christian hosted an Open House and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for our new Children's Youth Education Building.

The two-story, 12,640 square foot education building will house Ecclesia's First Step Nursery, the Children's Ministry, Taft T. Newman Christian School, the Creative After-school Program for Success (CAPS) and the Youth Worship Center for teens and young adults.

This is Phase 1 in Ecclesia's building plan.

The new building will provide space for the church's ever expanding programs and services, and will include regular educational classrooms, specially designed toddler classrooms, resource rooms, space for the youth education ministry, as well as a complete food preparation area.

The building is named after Alfreida Carswell-Frazier. She served in the Fontana School District for over 30 years and was instrumental in the development of the Head Start program. She was the Children's Ministry director at Ecclesia for many years and was an advocate for children. Her Sunday School classes regularly included full course meals because she knew many children came to church and had not eaten much. She now lives in Arizona.

"We have prayed, labored and sacrificed to see this dream become a reality," said Senior Pastor Joshua Beckley during the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony. "The building is just the initial phase of God's call to build. I ask you to continue to pray, not for the building, but the building of the lives of young people who will occupy this building."

The theme of Ecclesia's Youth Ministry is "Youth Under God's Construction," a fitting theme to a church that is continually growing in size.

Up until now, the current facility has accommodated several of Ecclesia's ministries such as Priscilla's Helping Hands, Blakely Community Center, the Clothes Closet, F.I.G.H.T.S. Boxing, the Health Ministry, Project REACH, Promiseland Childcare Center, the Taft T. Newman School and the Wednesday Night Worship Services, which provides hot meals and bagged groceries, and the CAPS after school program.

The new building will help these programs grow.

"This will allow us to be more aggressive in meeting the needs of the community," said Minister Robert Strong, Executive Director of Edification at Ecclesia.

Their next big event will be a youth music concert this coming Friday, May 23 at 8 p.m.

During Halloween for example, the church hosts a Hallelujah Festival.

By providing attractive, relevant services and activities for the community and its youth, Ecclesia has aptly named itself "The Happiest Place on Date Street" but never losing sight of its ultimate mission of serving others.

If there's one message that Pastor Strong hopes to pass on to youth it would be that there is "hope for the future" and that life holds much more than present circumstances.

Ecclesia Christian Fellowship is located at 1314 Date Street in San Bernardino.

For more information you may call them at (909) 881-5551 or visit their website at ecclesiachurch.com