What we do
Pacific Coast Youth Foundation is a non-profit organization that creates and supports extra-curricular programs for at-risk youth in Southern California. Our programs operate in alternative educational sites - including youth correctional facilities - to expand opportunities for underserved populations. We bring together students from diverse backgrounds and neighborhoods to engage in constructive, pro-social group activities that are both fun and empowering.
Specifically, PCYF directs its efforts to support older youth, aged 13-18, in Orange County, California. While there are some amazing organizations in our community that focus on adolescents, fewer services are available for this age group, in particular. This is a critical time in a student's life, and it is essential to offer positive forms of engagement to disrupt patterns of disadvantage - patterns that have the potential to create life-long, adverse effects.
Daniel, with the Orange County Department of Education teachers, distributing music and buss pass donations.
Why it's needed
Youth involvement in extracurricular activities is strongly associated with positive outcomes. Such outcomes include higher grade point averages, lower drop out rates, better working habits, higher educational aspirations, lower delinquency rates, greater self-esteem, a decrease in risky behavior, and higher future wages and occupational attainment. These benefits stem from the impact of positive peer engagement, the development of self-confidence, and the exposure to caring adult role models outside of the family. Most importantly, involvement in extracurricular programs can develop soft skills (such as fortitude, teamwork, and sociability) that are just as important as hard skills and formal schooling in predicting educational attainment and future earnings.
At-risk adolescents, in particular, are in need of these benefits. Quality extracurricular participation can spur upward mobility and help to divert youth from ongoing, self-destructive behavior. Many of the students we work with have little access to positive sources of self-confidence and peer engagement. Instead, too many seek empowerment from self-destructive sources like gang memberships. In addition, engagement in group activities often improves mental health challenges, including depression and addiction, which is a prevalent concern for many of those we help.
Pacific Coast Youth Foundation was started in memorial of Ernie Cooper Jr. who passed away in 2010 at the age of 25. Since this time, a group of family members and friends have worked to create an organization dedicated to preserving the passion and empathy of this much-loved young man. Ernie Jr's courage, integrity, and concern for social justice continue to inspire those who knew and loved him.
By 2014, PCYF had received both federal and state of California 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status as a public charity. The organization has brought together a passionate and talented group of young professionals and experienced advisors dedicated to improving the lives of young people in our community.