The Isla Vista Teen Center took its first steps toward expansion with a community workshop Thursday night at Isla Vista Elementary School.
The workshop was held for youth and other community members to discuss the future needs of the IVTC. Approximately 50 community members showed up to suggest what programs were important for the teen center to consider in its plan.
IVTC Director Richard Ramos said the workshop’s goal was to create a strategic plan that will help with future funding.
“We want input from members and their parents to see what programs are helpful. We want community members to help us fulfill our mission,” he said.
The IVTC caters to Latino teens and their families in the community, and is intended to help teens succeed in school and other social activities.
“Our mission is to enrich the academic perfomance of Latino youths in our community,” Ramos said. “Our long-term goal is to increase the number of students who graduate from high school and ultimately enroll in higher education.”
The workshop, presented in Spanish, outlined the goals of the evening and the goal for a future IVTC.
A list of intended goals was posted on the walls of the elementary schoolroom. Suggestions included after-school tutoring, computer training for youth and their parents, English as a Second Language classes for adults, and educational and cultural field trips. Community members made their suggestions, proposing bigger spaces for classes and better lighting outside of the center. One child in the audience suggested a skatepark.
Lucero Marquez, a Project Area Committee (PAC) representative for I.V. tenants, helped head the workshop. She said it was important to empower Latino youth and families in the community.
“A lot of us here want more programs for the kids. Rather than being in the streets, we want them to participate in activities like baseball, soccer and basketball,” she said. “We want them to be able to have a choice so they can continue to stay positive.”
The IVTC has received funding from UCSB, the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District, and local fraternities and sororities.
Diane Conn, director of the IVRPD, said funding would come from a long-term strategic plan that details what the community wants and how they will do it.
“It is a very exciting process,” she said. “We’ve always thought and hoped the IVTC would be a place for social and educational interactions. It is a place for teens to study and recreate. We want the programs to stimulate kids to be more successful in school and in the community.”