“I left Los Angeles for graduate school, thinking I wanted to join the foreign service. I worked on youth civic engagements projects in Haiti, Guatemala and Colombia. Then I said to myself, ‘Wait, I can do this work in my own neighborhood. I don’t need to go abroad.’ So I came back to LA motivated to make a change locally.”
His Pathway Into the Program
Mynor knew he wanted to do something about access to higher education for youth in his community but was not sure where to start. So he talked to some of his friends who are involved in organizing. One of his friends connected him to CDTech and the Los Angeles Community Organizing Academy (LACOA): “Hey, you should take this really cool class on canvassing at CDTech,” Mynor recalls his friend telling him, “So I showed up and found out it was a whole program. It wasn’t what I had planned but I was super-interested and applied.” While Mynor had been involved with a variety of student groups organizing on and off campus in college and graduate school, he had never taken a class or been exposed to the theory, terms or concepts of organizing.
What Mynor Learned
The program changed all that: “I didn’t really understand community organizing before. I just thought of it as rallies and protests. Through the program, I gained more insight into what really goes into organizing. I learned that it’s more about movement building. Learning about this history of social movements here in Los Angeles helped me put the organizing I was seeing and doing in context. Now I understand ‘Why are we doing this campaign? Where did it come from?’”
Just as Mynor was finishing the program in late 2012, one of the groups he was involved with in graduate school – Students for Education Reform – was hiring its first-ever California State Director. Mynor applied and got the job organizing statewide campaigns for K-12 education policy reform to close the achievement gap. He immediately put his new skills to use: “Thanks to LACOA, I had all the technical things I needed, like how to write a pitch, canvassing, and public speaking. The program’s focus on leadership really helped me set norms for what kinds of leader I want to be.”
Through his involvement with CDTech and his work with Students for Education Reform, Mynor learned about some exciting local education reform efforts being led by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. That led him to his current job as the Education Program Manager with The United Way, where he is organizing students to bring their voices to local education policy, including demanding a student seat on local district school boards.
Mynor’s Pathway From Here
While Mynor knows he’s having an impact on the issues he cares about as an organizer at United Way, his long-term vision is to make something happen in the neighborhood he grew up in. “I came into the program wanting to do something in my own community. Less than 10% of community residents from my neighborhood have completed a Bachelors Degree. The businesses are empty. With the experience I am getting now, I want to create an organization in my own neighborhood to re-build civic capacity – to build a neighborhood where people are college, career, and community ready.”
Thanks to the Los Angeles Community Organizing Academy, Mynor also knows he has a network of allies and supporters to help him achieve his vision: “The other students who completed the program are a really valuable network. I stay connected to at least half of them and we find interesting ways to collaborate.”