Youth Interactive

By on May 21, 2019 in Giving

Cecilia Campos is 20 years old and managing a State Street storefront in downtown Santa Barbara, across from the community’s art museum and the Granada Theatre.

The Youth Interactive store, which features the work of young artists and businesses formed as part of the art and business non-profit, is a dream come true for the group. And it feels like home to Cecilia, who found her voice as a Youth Interactive participant.

“Because of Youth Interactive I really am a different person,” Cecilia said. “This program gave me the chance to be who I can be without succumbing to any of the obstacles that were in my path.”

When she joined Youth Interactive at 14, Cecilia describes herself as being paralyzed with shyness and extremely uncomfortable speaking in front of any audience. She knew she had an interest in fashion, design and other creative pursuits, but wasn’t sure how to channel that energy in a constructive fashion.

Youth Interactive, she says, provided all of that. It also gave her the chance to participate in an international youth startup business competition at Oxford University in England, an experience that she describes as both intimidating but formative. Six years later she is a confident adult, taking a gap year from SBCC, who looks forward to a promising future in art-based business.

“I never expected to be general manager of a store at 20 years old,” she said. “But I’ve always loved leading a team and being a part of something bigger than myself, so this has been a really cool experience that has helped me grow.”

Cecilia’s mother, Estrella Campos, also had a life-changing experience as the result of her daughter’s involvement with Youth Interactive. After watching her daughter’s positive experience with the program over the last few years, she jumped at the chance to become a staff member of the non-profit, overseeing its community meeting space, the Youth Interactive Co-lab, and all Youth Interactive events.

“Cecilia has blossomed into a savvy and responsible business person who can really represent herself well because of Youth Interactive,” Estrella Campos said. “I get excited about providing opportunities for young artists and guidance that helps them excel.”

Youth Interactive has developed as a unique non-profit in the Santa Barbara space, in part because of support from companies like Yardi. Individual employees also contribute. Yardi associate technical account manager for affordable housing, Jeff Arthur, is a business mentor for the non-profit.

Youth Interactive has many facets, including micro-businesses such as Pier Pressure Designs, Havok t-shirt design, and Infinite Treasures jewelry, which are run entirely by students with assistance from adult mentors; Resurrected by Youth, a woodworking and craftsmanship class at the Los Prietos Boys Camp; the student art gallery, which is part of the State Street storefront; and more. Independent young artists can receive mentoring and guidance on how to market their creations and set up business contracts through the Creative Studio: Fine Art Team.

Youth Interactive is also offering use of its State Street meeting space to other non-profits that work with teens, to create more collaborative synergies between local organizations.

“We are encouraging other nonprofits to partner with us to serve youth in the arts,” Estrella Campos said. “We know that physical space is the most expensive part of being in Santa Barbara, so we’re trying to make ourselves available to other nonprofits with needs for a place to meet and connect.”

Visit the Youth Interactive store at 1219 State Street (they have regular business hours seven days a week and also participate in First Thursday each month) or learn more about their program offerings on their website.

“We are really excited to partner with the community to bring youth-based arts to downtown Santa Barbara,” Estrella Campos said. “This is a great opportunity for young artists to showcase their work and for the community to support their efforts.”

**

Yardi is Energized for Good! Learn more about the non-profits supported by each Yardi office around the world on our Giving page.