(SACRAMENTO) – Right before the City Council voted in favor of continued funding for Sacramento Youth and Community PopUps through June 2020, Mayor Darrell Steinberg joined representatives from The Center at Sierra Health Foundation and community non-profit partners to highlight how the events have benefitted young people and families from underserved communities.

The announcement took place in the courtyard area of City Hall in downtown Sacramento with Steinberg, Chet P. Hewitt, of The Center at Sierra Health Foundation, Pastor Les Simmons from South Sacramento Christian Center, and City Councilmen Eric Guerra and Jay Schenirer.

An additional $1.3 million in funds will be dedicated to the Youth and Community PopUps through the new Measure U half-cent sales tax revenue. Continued funding has been recommended by the city’s Measure U Advisory Committee.

Sacramento hosted free pop-up events in an effort to prevent the youth from getting into mischief at Arden Fair Mall. and other places they would frequent, especially around the holidays. The pop-ups were born out of melees at the Arden Fair Mall in December 2018.

“What a difference a year makes,” Steinberg said. “Not that 2018 was a bad year by any means. It’s just that the city of Sacramento and its partners had many fewer opportunities to offer our young people, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. And then came the trouble at Arden Fair. That was a wakeup call. We created the ‘youth pop-up movement.’”

Under the guidance of Sierra Health Foundation, Steinberg said about 29,000 youngsters and teens have attended the free youth pop-up programs. About  25 local nonprofits have offered their assistance.

Local nonprofits such as  Roberts Family Center, Voice of the Youth, and Rose Family Creative Empowerment Center sprung into action to aid a population they all basically serve in various communities.  

Asian Resources, Boys and Girls Club; 5212 Lemon Hill Ave, Family Life Center, Foothills Skate Inn,  Greater Sac Urban League, Hmong Youth and Parents United, IU – Mien Community Services utilized their spaces to accommodate the youth. 

Rounding out the list, MAPLE Neighborhood Center, MLK Tech Academy, Sam Pannell Community Center, Self Awareness and Recovery, Simmons Community Center, and  Sol Collective were also participants.

“I want to thank and call out our community partners and thanks some folks from Arden Mall,” said Hewitt. “What the pop-ups’ success shows is that often an opportunity, a developmental opportunity, to do well and right, most of our young folks will choose what’s best and right for them. They helped design many of these particular events.”

There have been 453 events since January 2019, 29,000 attendees, and 100 young people have received on-the-job training, Steinberg said. The mayor said that he expects that the pop-ups will continue beyond June 2020 and be a “permanent part” of what the city does. 

By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer