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Background

Our Purpose

The purpose of Free Our Dreams is to help strengthen the youth movement in California by cultivating a network of youth leaders that reflects our diverse identities and backgrounds; sharing skills, knowledge and resources to support youth organizing; and bringing youth leaders together to lead bold conversations and statewide advocacy strategies for systemic change.

Free Our Dreams centers the leadership of women, men, immigrant and transgender youth of color in order to build power and dismantle systemic barriers that have locked out young people from opportunities. Free Our Dreams builds on the legacy of previous generations of youth-led organizing and the courageous organizing by young people happening everyday across our state.

Our Goals

Cultivate relationships among youth leaders across California communities that celebrate the diversity, identities and histories of our youth movement.

Exchange skills and knowledge in order to increase the leadership of youth to lead local change efforts in their communities.

Provide opportunities for youth to lead bold conversations around statewide strategy in order to build youth power.

Deepen young people’s knowledge around advocacy as a strategy for systemic change and strengthen their skills when engaging systems’ leaders and decision makers.

Shift the narrative of young people of color to be seen as assets and leaders.

Our Vision

A Shared Platform for Racial and Gender Justice

 

  • Young people and organizational leaders from grassroots and policy advocacy organizations are currently developing this Shared Racial and Gender Justice Policy Platform.  This emerging Platform incorporates the words, ideas, and dreams of hundreds of young people, grassroots leaders, and organizational leaders from across California.

A world rooted in unity, equity, equality, freedom, and justice

  • Where people accept and respect everyone regardless of race, gender, citizenship status, class, sexual orientation, and other identities.
  • Where different identities do not draw boundaries, but bring us all closer.
  • Where there are no borders, no segregation, and no separation of families.
  • Where people of color, women, children, youth, immigrants, and LGBTQ people are empowered and have equal opportunities and justice.
  • Where our dreams are no longer locked up, locked out, suspended, expelled, detained and deported, stereotyped and dismissed.
  • Where are dreams are supported and uplifted, invited and encouraged, welcomed and desired, loved and accepted.

A world with safe and brave spaces

  • Where young people are embraced by a true community of healing and transformation.
  • Where people who feel like they have been neglected can talk about how they feel and acknowledge their scars and not be judged or attacked.
  • Where women and LGBTQ people can live without fear and without others questioning their success.
  • Where we can walk home without being scared of anything happening, being pulled over or getting shot.
  • Where people can live in their community forever without being pushed out.
  • Where we help kids get through the system without being a failure.
  • Where there is no criminalization of black and brown youth and no fear of deportation or mass incarceration.
  • Where the punitive system has been replaced with a restorative and transformative system.

A world of wholeness

  • Where we as a whole aren’t afraid to be ourselves, embrace our liveliness, and respect our own identities.
  • Where our intelligence is measured by our strength and beauty, not by a corrupt, biased school system.
  • Where our histories and herstories are acknowledged, our education affirms who we are, and  we embrace the color of our skin as beautiful from inside and out.
  • Where womyn with a “y” are seen as people not objects, can express ourselves and not be judged, and our worth is recognized and upheld.
  • Where our lives our valued, our lives are own to mold, and we can literally be anything or anyone we want to be without limitations.
  • Where our identities are our lungs and our communities give us the air to breathe.
  • Where we stand together, we all love each other, and we pass on leadership.
  • Where we are strong not because we’ve had to survive so much hardship but because we have so much support in our communities.
  • Where we have confidence and willpower to get people motivated to make a difference in communities where the voices of less fortunate are often ignored.
  • Where we are leaders and teach others how to lead.
  • Where we heal ourselves, our people, and people considered part of a different group.
  • Where we have the possibility and hope to see our communities strive on factors that will benefit all.

Life Course Rights Framework

Right to Childhood: Right to a healthy birth, right to a developmentally rich infancy and toddlerhood, right to be a child, right to an adolescence, right to grow up, right to a safe passage into adulthood

Right to Family: Right to the protection and care of a primary caregiver, right of children to be protected from harm, right to consistent connection with siblings and kin, right to multi-generational connection with elders, right to know our family history, right to define our own families

Right to a Home: Right to stable, safe, affordable housing – including both a right to remain / not be displaced and a right to geographic mobility

Right to Health, Wellness, and Healing: Right to physical, mental, spiritual, and socio-emotional health, right to healthy food, right to physical activity, right to preventative and curative healthcare, right to a range of healing modalities including culturally rooted forms of healing

Right to a Healthy, Sustainable Environment: Right to clean air, safe drinking water, and a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, right to connection to the landright and duty to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations

Right to be Free from Fear and Violence: right to true community public safety, right to a safe and healthy neighborhood and environment free from state violence and arbitrary arrest, incarceration, surveillance and deportation; right to counsel in all civil or criminal proceedings including immigration related matters, right to be free from community and family violence

Right to an Education: Right to a pre-k, elementary, and secondary education that prepares us for life and teaches us our true history; right to vocational training and a post-secondary education

Right to Meaningful Work and a Family Supporting Income: Right to meaningful, safe work that pays a family supporting wage; including the right to be free from compulsory labor; right to a universal basic income

Right to Love and Connection: Right to a web of strong relationships and supportive community

Right to Our Culture and Ancestry: Right to connection to one’s ancestors, right to know your lineage, right to your cultural traditions, right to learn and speak your language

Right to Self Determination: Right of indigenous peoples to have their treaties recognized, observed, and enforced; Right to be free from discrimination based on gender, race/nationality, immigration status, sexuality, class, zip code, and criminal history; right to gender expression, right to be free from and limiting conceptions of masculinity and femininity (patriarchy), right to express our voices and influence our communities and the right to organize

Right to Second Chances: Right to make mistakes, right to learn from our mistakes, and right to restorative opportunities

Right to Be Represented in Our Full Humanity: Right to be represented in media and public discourse in our full complexity and humanity, right to tell our own stories

Right to Age with Dignity: Right of parents to see their children grow into adulthood, right to a dignified adulthood and elderhood

PLATFORM

Racial Justice and an End to Trauma and the Mistreatment of Youth.

  1. We demand an end to gun violence and senseless homicides, especially of people of color.
  2. We demand an end to the negative portrayal of people of color, especially young men of color as “super-predators” and women of color as objects who lack positive, strong leadership.
  3. We demand an end to the criminalization of youth of color. 
  4. We need more healing circles, spaces, and programs.

Supportive, Healthy School Climate and Education.

  1. We need better and more school guidance, college access, and affordability for college.
  2. We need more restorative justice practices and programs.
  3. We demand an end to negative school climate, especially for students of color and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) students.
  4. We demand an end to suspensions for willful defiance. 
  5. We demand Ethnic Studies. We need culturally relevant education that reflects the experiences and strengths of our communities.

Gender and Reproductive Justice.

  1. We demand an end to rape culture. We demand safety for young women in communities from sexual violence and assault.
  2. We need access to health services and health education in schools, including education about reproductive health, gender, and sexuality.
  3. We demand that public officials enforce laws to protect communities, especially Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) youth.
  4. We demand support for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) youth. 
  5. We need support to address teen pregnancy and to meet the needs of pregnant and parenting teens.
  6. We need gender-neutral restrooms.

Health Justice.

  1. We demand access to healthcare for all people, including undocumented youth and families.
  2. We demand food justice, including healthy food options and culturally appropriate food for different communities.
  3. We need more wellness centers for young people.

Economic and Immigration Justice.

  1. We demand an end to homelessness.
  2. We need quality, good-paying jobs for all youth and families.
  3. We need affordable housing for all families.
  4. We demand an end to gentrification––the push-out of working class communities of color by wealthier communities.
  5. We demand fairer laws for immigrants, including a clear pathway to citizenship. 
  6. We need abundant money for youth organizations, positive youth programs, and alternatives to violence.
  7. We need adequate, fair banks in our communities.

Environmental Justice

  1. We demand an end to environmental injustice in our communities, including toxic dumpsites, water pollution, unclean air, and pesticides.
  2. We need free bus and public transit passes for youth.
  3. We need abundant recreational spaces, parks, and green spaces for youth.
  4. We need access to clean drinking water.
  5. We need adequate paved roads, sidewalks, bus shelters, and crosswalks.
  6. 6. We need abundant transportation stops, bus lines, and regular public transit schedules.

Free Our Dreams Organizers and Partners

Movement-Strategy-Center

MSC is dedicated to transformative movement building.  MSC seeks to create a movement ecosystem of deeply connected groups that share values and rely on each other to respond to the needs of impacted communities, advance policy solutions, and transform the lives of people on the frontlines of change.

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Founded in 1999, PolicyLink connects the work of people on the ground to the creation of sustainable communities of opportunity that allow everyone to participate and prosper. Our work is grounded in the conviction that equity – just and fair inclusion – must drive all policy decisions.

calendow

The California Endowment is a private, statewide health foundation with a mission to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians.

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The Alliance for Boys and Men of Color works with local and state partners to ensure that California’s boys and men of color: are physically and mentally healthy; live in safe neighborhoods; succeed in school and work; and possess the knowledge, skills, and leadership necessary to contribute to the economic well-being of their families, communities, and state.