UNM and the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) are at the forefront of a powerful new project, aimed to keep everyone safe physically and mentally.
As part of the Office for Victims of Crime’s (OVC) National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, NOVA and the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) are announcing the launch of the Youth Advocacy Corps at a town hall on Monday, April 24.
UNM students, faculty and staff, as well as New Mexico community members are invited to learn about the new project, and how it will empower youth advocates and elevate the next generation of leaders in violence prevention. Victim service providers are also encouraged to attend.
“The Youth Advocacy Corps seeks to uplift and celebrate the voices of marginalized youth in victim advocacy by centering their perspectives in the development and execution of the program.” - Abrianna Morales
“It’s fitting that the Corps is being announced during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week as their work will no doubt amplify survivor voices in all spaces, especially those where they are seldom heard,” OVC Director Kristina Rose said.
It will be funded by a three-year, $750,000 OVC grant, and will place a large emphasis on engaging youth in victim services. That’s a focal point of the upcoming town hall, which aims to amplify the voices of historically marginalized survivors of multiple forms of violence and crime.
15 to 18 student fellows will be given training, mentorship, and a paid field-placement in a local victim service organization for nine months. Fellows will convene at NOVA’s 50th annual conference in 2024 to receive training to become credentialed victim advocates and will then be placed in a victim service organization within their local community.
Albuquerque will not be the only community engaging in this training, however.
The Youth Advocacy Corps will be developed in partnership with Rainbow Research and four other minority-serving campus pilot sites: Aaniiih Nakoda College, Dominican University, University of Texas at El Paso and Coahoma Community College.
That mission will be highlighted by NOVA Youth Advocacy Corps Program Manager and UNM Senior Abrianna Morales.
“The Youth Advocacy Corps, to me, is a commitment from the current leaders in victim services to transform advocacy as we know it. The Youth Advocacy Corps is a commitment to elevating voices that have been silenced for far too long,” she said. “Despite all the advances in victims’ rights over the past fifty years, survivors from historically marginalized communities are often not reached, supported, or represented by existing victim service programs or within the criminal justice system.”
Morales is one of four panelists speaking at the event. She will be moderating a handful of youth survivors and advocates, who will be sharing their stories when it comes to surviving violence.
“Having been a survivor and advocate since I was fifteen years old, I know how important it is to feel that your voice is heard and how empowering advocacy and activism can be,” Morales said “The Youth Advocacy Corps is, fundamentally, about bringing victim advocacy, victim services, and the victims’ rights movement into the present day, and ensuring that all victims feel adequately represented and served by service providers.”
She will be joined by Pulse Nightclub Survivor Equality Florida and Press Secretary Brandon Wolf, Educator & Former Executive Director of Chicago Peace Warriors, D'Angelo McDade, and Northwestern University Student Advocate, Kaylyn Ahn. NOVA Executive Director Claire Ponder Selib and OVC Director Kristina Rose will also provide opening remarks.
“I’m so excited to watch how the Youth Advocacy Corps develops and inspires the next generation of leaders in victims’ rights and services. I envision a passionate, knowledgeable force spreading throughout the country and working in communities most affected by crime – communities that may not be aware of the rights and services available to them in the aftermath of crime,” Rose said.
There will also be a performance by the group Something Major A Capella.
The town hall will be April 24 in SUB Ballroom B from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Registration and requests for accessibility accommodations can be found at the link here. Any other questions can be directed toward the Youth Corps.
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