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THROUGH EXPERIENCING A FLAWED SYSTEM, HE NOW WORKS TO CHANGE IT






Richard recently began working in CYS' Counseling and Resource Services (CARS) program, which works to prevent youth from coming into contact with the justice system. Richard offers a deep level of empathy within his role, which he finds stems from his upbringing in Inglewood, personal encounters with the School-to-Prison Pipeline, and job experience.  


For this story, we would like to introduce Richard and highlight the elements of his life that inspired him to take on this CYS role.


“I was born and raised in Inglewood. I never met my father, and my mom left me around the time I was in third grade—my grandparents raised me. I didn’t have a college plan growing up. By the time I was a Senior in high school, all my friends were either in Juvenile Hall, killed or just dropped out. I didn't have any type of structure. At some point around the 11th grade, I was homeless/evicted. Thanks to extended family, we weren't on the street.  What really opened my mind to going to school was my brother. When he was going to college, it didn't make sense to me because in my head, college was for white people. We couldn't afford a house so how were we going to afford going to college? At the time, I didn't know anything about Financial Aid. Thank God my brother had a friend who wanted to go to school to become an engineer, because my brother decided to follow him and ended up graduating. I ended up going to school in part because of that and that was the beginning of my professional career.” 


After graduating from California State University, Dominguez Hills with a major in History, Richard began his work as a teacher in LA County Juvenile Halls for almost 10 years. As he reflects on his years leading up to his CYS role, both before and after college, Richard recognizes the need for real change in the way we support our kids, especially kids most susceptible to the School-to-Prison-Pipeline. 


“I was conditioned to go to prison as a kid. Being homeless, having to fend for myself, being shot at more than 5 or 6 times, losing my friend in 6th grade. As I got to know the kids I worked with, the more I saw myself in them. I grew up with no parents, no supervision, around drugs and gangs... My reality was growing up in a place that was very violent, while thankfully still being nurtured by family and friends. I think it's faith that I got this job because it allows me to help kids knowing I can understand where they come from.” 


Currently, with his team, Richard is working to combat absenteeism. He works hard to connect with families, find out (without judgement) what is preventing them from getting their kids to school, and provide resources and services (tap cards, school uniforms, gas cards, haircuts, etc.) that may help. “Right now, I am working on an absenteeism project at the same school I went to as a kid. It is a real full-circle moment.”  


Richard is excited to honor the lessons he's gathered from his up-bringing and professional experience by supporting his clients in ways that he knows will have an impactful and lasting effect. His direct connection to the kids, families, and community is an incredibly important pillar to CYS' work. Richard's voice, opinion, perspective, and experiences allow his work, and CYS as a whole, to best and most directly support our children and families.  



Stay tuned to receive updates on Richard’s work and the rest of the amazing CYS team through our monthly online newsletter. Meet other inspiring staff that have been previously highlighted on our blog: cys-la.org/our-blog.

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