Improve Your Tomorrow


August 2023

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Empowering Advocacy: Project Rise Brothers Team Up

for Criminal Justice Reform

In a groundbreaking collaboration, Project Rise Brothers joined forces with IYT's Brotherhood Action Committee (BAC) to advance their advocacy efforts.

Over a span of 5 weeks, each brother underwent culturally responsive training to become youth advocates in the criminal justice reform movement. The partnership between Project Rise and BAC centered on comprehending the policy stances of various organizations striving to reform the criminal justice system. Brothers delved into the policy priorities of organizations like ACLU Cal Action, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Equal Justice Initiative, and National Harm Reduction Council, aiming to support rights restoration, expungement access, fair treatment of incarcerated individuals, and compassionate care for those battling substance abuse.

At the conclusion of the BAC sessions, the brothers engaged in a seminar-style discussion, reflecting on their learning journey and ways to actively bolster advocacy initiatives. Responding to prompts like "How can we transform the criminal justice system to counteract mass incarceration?" and "Why is it crucial to join advocacy groups championing policy change?", the brothers showcased their dedication to effecting positive change.

IYT member and Sac State-bound graduate, Jaylen shared this in reflecting on the program, "This experience has been enlightening. From all the sessions I attended, I learned how to file complaints against police, the rights I have, and how to be a young activist without breaking the law. Witnessing the growth among the BAC brothers has been remarkable too. They [now] know their own rights and could very possibly teach it to their friends and families with good understanding." In thinking about the important takeaways from the program, Jaylen said, "This program was very important to me, because now me and my brothers are able to defend ourselves from the law and may be able to make an impact on our communities."

The consensus among the brothers was that they felt a newfound confidence in their ability to navigate the criminal justice system, and how to become an advocate to improve the system. This partnership between Project Rise and BAC has undeniably accomplished its mission, equipping system-impacted brothers with vital knowledge and tools.

IYT's Mental Health Day: Nurturing Wellness and Dialogue Among Young Brothers

IYT's recent Mental Health Day was focused on two objectives; demystifying and destigmatizing mental health for young men of color. The day's offerings were carefully curated to create an environment that encourages open and honest dialogue.

Participants had the privilege of hearing from mental health professionals who share their experiences as people of color, cultivating an atmosphere that is both non-threatening and receptive.

The day's offerings are carefully curated to create an environment that encourages open dialogue. Participants have the privilege of hearing from mental health professionals who share their experiences as people of color, cultivating an atmosphere that is both non-threatening and receptive.

A significant highlight involved smaller group discussions where participants shared personal experiences of trauma. These intimate sessions, conducted within a healing circle, served as a safe haven for participants to bond, learn from one another, and explore deeply personal topics. In the words of IYT member and participant, Jameele Anderson, "I enjoyed the conversations about mental health, but more specifically when we broke off into smaller groups because it provided a safe space for us to learn about each other and discuss personal things. Everyone was vulnerable and comfortable."

IYT's Mental Health Day served as an impactful platform that not only imparts knowledge but nurtures a sense of connection and understanding among the young brothers, fostering a culture of acceptance and growth.

1300 Campaign Summer Youth Academy Inspires Higher Education Dreams

for Young Men of Color

In a collaboration aimed at increasing the number of young men of color (YMOC) in higher education, the 1300 Campaign's Summer Youth Academy (SYA) has emerged as a pioneering initiative in its second year. A brainchild of a strategic alliance involving Central Valley 1300 Campaign partners, Improve Your Tomorrow (IYT), UC Merced Chancellor, Juan Muñoz, and former President, Dr. Ellen Junn of CSU Stanislaus, the program's focal point is to provide a formative collegiate experience to YMOC in middle school and high school, demystifying college and inspiring more scholars of color to enroll in higher education.

Through a week-long Summer Youth Academy, over 50 YMOC underwent a life-changing experience. Nestled within the dormitories of UC Merced, participants embarked on a multifaceted journey. The week's agenda encompassed career assessments that unveiled individual strengths and interests. These insights provided a foundation for crafting personalized educational plans, setting the stage for academic accomplishments.

The Academy's curriculum thoughtfully integrates immersive visits to CSU Stanislaus and Yosemite National Park (no summer program is complete with a trip to National Park).

At CSU Stanislaus, students gleaned insights into the teaching program and honed essential life skills such as budgeting and financial planning for college.

Integral to the program is mentorship, an element that thrives at UC Merced. Participants were able to meet with both student leaders and faculty members, who helped foster a sense of community, helping underscore to participants that their collegiate ambitions would be supported.

Over the course of the week, the group was exposed to a diverse spectrum of potential pathways after high school. Reflecting on the program's impact, a student from Tracy High School shared, "I didn't know what I wanted to be before I came here, but then when they brought out the police officers and paramedics...The EMT really inspired me." Another student, representing Thomas Downey High School, affirmed, "I didn't want to go to college at first [before this trip], but now I want to get into Technology Engineering. I really like Stan State and UC Merced." This immersive, week-long experience equips participants with crucial life skills, profound insights, and mentorship, propelling them confidently toward their higher education and career objectives.

As the program concluded, participants emerged with a well-rounded comprehension of their options and a clear roadmap to steer their aspirations toward fruition. 

If you're interested in receiving information on how to sign up for next year's Summer Academy, send a message to

Pre Register Here!

Save the Date!

IYT's Sneaker Ball, Saturday, Nov. 4th, 2023

Join us for IYT's 2nd Annual Sneaker Ball Fundraising Gala for an unforgettable night of style and substance. Pre-register below to be the first to receive early bird tickets and exclusive offers.

Transformative Civic Engagement Program 

Celebrates Emerging Community Leaders

In a poignant culmination, the Brotherhood Action Committee (BAC) orchestrated a closing ceremony to honor the accomplishments of over 65 brothers who successfully completed the last 2023 BAC session. This heartwarming event convened not only brothers but also their families, IYT staff, and collaborative partners, uniting to celebrate the completion of a transformative civic engagement program.

The BAC Closing Ceremony recognized 68 brothers spanning all regions served by IYT (Sacramento, the Bay Area, and Central Valley).

A highlight of the event was the presence of distinguished keynote speaker Mr. Khalil J. Ferguson, President of United Core Alliance and a student at McGeorge School of Law. Drawing from his rich background in policy and advocacy, Mr. Ferguson impassionedly encouraged BAC Brothers to embrace his footsteps and contribute to the pursuit of social justice. The ceremony also featured an eloquent address by BAC Brother Draymone Edwards, who shared insights garnered from his BAC experience. Edwards asserted, "I believe it is important for young men of color to be more involved in activism because instead of us being in the streets committing crimes, causing violence and going against each other, we need to be in the streets as one speaking up, having our voices heard, doing something wonderful and making a change for our future, to impact our lives and many other generations to come. I am going to carry out the principles of BAC in my everyday life by carrying myself as a strong, smart, young man of color, who is standing up with my brothers to make a change, for the brotherhood! And I encourage all of us brothers to do the same!"

Each brother who successfully completes the BAC program commits to an enduring pledge, designating themselves as BAC Alumni and vowing to actively volunteer at forthcoming advocacy events hosted by IYT. With a strengthened cohort of 68 accomplished brothers, the fight to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline gains further momentum, reflecting a collective commitment to a brighter future.

Have questions about the BAC? Want to partner or engage with this program in the Fall? Send a message to

IYT Seeks Mentor Fellows For Coming Service Year

As the start of another school year comes into view, we are looking for people who have a heart for service to consider signing up for our paid Mentor Fellowship Program. We are humbled to be able to grow and provide even more young men of color with transformational mentorship that focuses on unlocking potential and improving academic and mental health outcomes.

Check out our latest video to get an understanding of what it's like to be a mentor and the mutual benefits that improve everyone's future.

If you have someone in your life who you think would be a great mentor to young men of color, consider sharing our program page with them.


IYT is a proud grantee of AmeriCorps California which funds our Mentor Fellowship Program. AmeriCorps is the federal agency connecting individuals and organizations through service and volunteering to tackle the nation's most pressing challenges.

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