On May 6, UCLA graduate student group Planners of Color for Social Equity (PCSE) will host its 4th Annual Urban Planning Youth Empowerment Conference (UPYEC) for high school students at the UCLA Ackerman Student Union. The conference will bring approximately 220 high school youth from East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy (ELARA) for a day-long conference on urban planning issues. ELARA, a pilot school located on the campus of Esteban Torres High School in unincorporated East Los Angeles, was founded in 2010 and is one of only three schools in the nation with an emphasis in urban planning and design.
In conjunction with UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, the event will provide a keynote speech by Romel Pascual, Executive Director of CicLAvia, an introduction to urban planning tools workshop, lunch, a campus tour, information on applying to college, and topic-specific urban planning workshops. Workshops will focus on issues of transportation advocacy, environmental design, food access, women’s use of public space, and environmental sustainability in the neighborhood of East Los Angeles. PCSE sees the annual event as an opportunity to build a stronger pipeline to higher education and ultimately to diversify the field of planning. The event is also an opportunity for horizontal learning, and one of the few events where planning students engage directly with the communities they one day hope to serve.
PSCE aims to promote grassroots activism in urban planning and inspire high school students to explore how urban planning affects their neighborhood, city, and region. PCSE encourages students who attend the conference to be active participants in creating the change they want to see in their communities, using planning as a tool for social justice.