CLP@Lincoln youth raising his hands during a hike on the first day.

Cultivating Youth-Led Community in Eastside

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Riverside, CA – Child Leader Project (CLP) is proud to announce the start of its new ecological and social justice leadership program, CLP@Lincoln. The program begins this May 2013 with youth leaders from the Advancement Via Individual Determination Program (AVID) at Lincoln Continuation High School in the Riverside Unified School District.

In collaboration with AVID, CLP mentors will provide seven sessions of experiential learning on social, ecological and food justice in the Eastside community.

Riverside’s historic Eastside community has been the focus of extensive efforts by health leaders in the HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Zone Initiative. Eastside’s 17,541 residents have little to no access to healthy food or physical activity due to the social and environmental obstacles inherent in lower income communities. It is also home to one of Riverside’s food deserts, a USDA-classification for low-income communities with little or no access to healthy, affordable food.


Map of food deserts in Riverside

This USDA map of the Food Deserts in Riverside. Green represents census tracts who are Low Income (LI) and have Low Access (LA) to healthy food within 1-mile. Orange are LI and LA within .5 miles. The red dot marks the location of Lincoln High School in Eastside.

“This program will engage young people as allies and leaders in community change by exploring  how data and research can help us understand and communicate what injustices we already experience about the communities we live in,” says Samantha Wilson, Executive Learner and Founder of CLP and co-facilitator on the program.  “Youth know what’s up in their communities—the role of adults as partners is to provide support, access and language to share their knowledge in ways that make change.”

The program will be co-facilitated by Daniel Aaron Francis and Samantha Lynne Wilson. Daniel Francis brings fifteen years of experience in regenerative and sustainable design and holds a consulting role in the design of community gardens throughout Riverside. Samantha Wilson is a UCR alumna and has served as CLP’s Executive Learner for five years, assisting in leadership development programs for over 500 youth from Riverside to Mexico and South India.

Impacts of Exposure to the Natural World on Student Achievement and Health

Ecological justice and nature-connection is an essential part of individual and community health. Richard Louv, auther of “Last Child in the Woods” and “The Nature Principle,” writes, “Research suggests that exposure to the natural world – including nearby nature in cities – helps improve human health, well-being, and intellectual capacity in ways that science is only recently beginning to understand.”

Louv has also noted  increased  test scores, improved critical thinking skills, problem solving and decision-making as result of time in natural and wildnerness settings.

The CLP@Lincoln Program


Daniel Francis and CLP Lincoln youth at the Arlanza Garden

Program facilitator Daniel Francis with CLP@Lincoln youth on the first day of the program.

CLP@Lincoln is an innovative program designed to bring young leaders in touch with the natural world in a way that inspires them to cultivate health and community in their own neighborhood.

Participants in the program will:

  • Observe and explore their relationship to their high school environment.
  • Hike Box Springs Mountain and engage in observation of social and environmental patterns in Riverside.
  • Meet student leaders at UC Riverside’s R’Garden and learn the story of student organizing in advocating for green spaces on campus.
  • Map and engage liquor store and corner market owners in Riverside’s historic Eastside neighborhood with lessons from the Cx3 Collaborative of the County Department of Public Health.
  • Help out at the Arlanza Community Garden, Riverside’s first permaculture-designed and youth-led garden initiative on Parks and Recreation property.
  • Meet public officials and address city leaders on the issues of their community.
  • Celebrate with family and friends and make plans for next steps as volunteer leaders.

Donations and Support:

RCHF logo

The program is funded primarily by a grant from the Riverside Community Health Foundation ( RCHF has provided $3,000 towards the $4,000 needed to support staff, transportation and program costs. CLP currently invites community supporters and allies to give towards this program. All supporters are invited to our closing celebration to learn more about the experience of youth first hand.

To donate online, click here.


To donate by check or cash, please send your gift to C/O CLP@Lincoln, Child Leader Project, P.O. Box 51333, Riverside, CA 92517. 

One thought on “Cultivating Youth-Led Community in Eastside

  1. Pingback: Child Leader Project Cultivates Youth-Led Community in Riverside’s Eastside | SEIZING OUR DESTINY: The Agenda for Riverside's Innovative Future

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