Young Invincibles has been empowering young adults for over a decade; our network of youth community and student leaders numbers in the thousands. Young adults have proven time and time again that they will be the change past generations have hoped for. All we need to do is set them up for success. YI has embarked on a campaign to highlight the many alumni who have passed through our youth programs. Some of them now work as our colleagues and teammates while others have been trailblazers at other institutions and programs. Some started their own campaigns to empower others. All around the world, YI alumni are doing wonderful work in service of the community.
Check out this month’s alumni highlight, Ronnell D. Hampton.
Over the course of our young advocate programs (YAP), YI gathers and trains the next generation of local community leaders. Throughout the program, advocates learn how to tell their stories in an impactful manner, speak to elected officials, advocate for policy change, cultivate community, and pursue a policy they are passionate about, all while gaining transferable skills.
This month, we reached out to former California YAP graduate Ronnell D. Hampton to see what he’s up to. We asked him a couple of questions and asked if he had some wisdom to share with other advocates across the country.
What are you up to now after your time on the CA YAP?
I have been working on a few things. First, I started Growing Greatness Now, a policy and urban design consulting firm committed to social and environmental justice. Through my consulting firm, I have addressed state policy related to extractive fines and fees with the California Debt Justice Coalition. As a result, we have successfully changed the Child Support Policy to get more money to families and cancel more than $400 million of arrears. We also led and supported the removal of $16 billion of administrative and criminal justice fines and fees at the state level. We also provided urban design consultation through projects like Arts Bridging the Gap’s LA Street Art Initiative, and we produce special projects like LISC LA Changemakers LA Podcast Series.
In addition to running Growing Greatness Now, I serve as a professor in the College of Environmental Design at Cal Poly Pomona. In addition, I am the Principal Equity Strategist for the Los Angeles City CivilRights Department, where I lead equity programs and policy development. This work includes architecting the 5-year strategic Action Plan and framework for the Office of Racial Equity, which the Los Angeles City Council recently approved.
What is a skill you learned during the program?
The skill development received during my time with Young Invincibles is unmatched. I built upon my stakeholder management skill by incorporating frameworks provided by the YI West Director, who is now the Executive Director, Kristin McGuire. One tool I have constantly gone back to is stakeholder mapping which identifies stakeholders as advocates, activists, service providers, or decision-makers. This framing allowed me to understand roles and responsibilities related to achieving the most optimal outcome that reflects each stakeholder group’s interests and needs. It also started my understanding of collective impact before I knew about it as a theory of change. Everyone has a role to play, and sometimes parts of project processes need to be handed off to specific stakeholders to get the most desired outcome or because of constraints. When possible, strategies should be collaborative, but understanding which parts of the processes are designated to decision-makers is essential.
Any advice for current and future young advocates?
You have your vision and YI is here to support the development of that vision. Leverage their resources, support their efforts, and soak up the knowledge you gain through participation. Your experience will fly by, but it can have a lifetime impact.