Beyond Emancipation

James: Giving Back to his Community

Twenty-one-year-old James values collaboration and community and has a strong vision for his future—helping young people.

“Helping youth feels right for me,” shares James. “I want to be a teacher so I can make a long-term impact for youth.”

Growing up, school was James’ safe place. He grew up in an all-Latino family that was abusive and had drug and gang affiliation. At age 12, James moved to the Bay Area with his mom and two younger brothers.

“It wasn’t stable back then,” James shares, “there were periods of homelessness, living in hotel rooms and sleeping in parks.”

“To get away after being physically abused, I remember packing up my things and running to school to get help,” James recalls.

James was bounced around group homes until he landed in a stable foster home at age 17. “My foster parent took me to B:E for workshops,” James remembers, “B:E was also there to help me with applying for college and grants.”

“For me foster care represented trauma and shame,” shares James, “but I’ve found a community that lifts up foster youth. And I want to provide community for youth.”

In pursuit of his goals, James is working full-time and studying marine biology and education at College of Alameda. He hopes to transfer to UC Santa Cruz to complete his education.

James is also one of the leaders on B:E’s first Youth Council. “The Council is another opportunity for me to make change and be there to improve things for foster youth,” says James.

Working with the Council and advocating for youth, James says, “I see a lot of positive growth and change and know we can do a lot together.”