Youth academy graduates 11​

Signups open for next course: orientation in May

What 12th-grader wouldn't benefit from free, expert advice on college, careers and etiquette for any occasion?  At the same time, families in Jurupa Valley will prosper as students build a foundation for success beyond high school.

Those are the ideas behind a new Youth Development Academy, which graduated its first 11 students last week at a ceremony studded with local dignitaries.  Not only did the graduating teens show dedication by taking workshops on Saturdays, but six also received college scholarships for perfect attendance and/or community volunteer work.

Students of the eight-week academy, a partnership between Jurupa Valley Adopt a Family and Jurupa Unified School District, embraced the course, said Angel Sanchez Jr., Adopt a Family's chairman.

"The feedback we got was phenomenal.  They (students) would tell us how the things they learned they applied immediately," Sanchez said.  

The academy comprises a series of nine workshops, with handpicked specialists and mentors for each module.  Topics include coordinating college applications; preparing for the SAT; developing interview, resume-writing and cover letter skills; applying for scholarships; developing the entrepreneurial spirit; choosing the right college; cultivating life skills such as balancing a checkbook, cooking and establishing credit; and ensuring etiquette – from manners and mannerisms to choosing the right fork from a china setting.

Sanchez said he was impressed by students' level of engagement and note-taking.  And the cooking class, it turned out, was surprisingly popular: "The students would tell us they cooked for their family and said, 'We hadn't had a meal that wasn't McDonald's in a week.' "

The second annual academy starts soon with an orientation at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 25 at Rubidoux High School.  Students who enroll can expect a few small assignments over the summer, with workshops beginning in the fall.   The course is open to all JUSD students who will be seniors in the 2016-17 school year.  To apply, please visit the Adopt a Family website:

Jurupa Valley Adopt a Family was established in 1993 to ensure that needy families received gifts and provisions over the holiday season.  Over the years, the group has added programs in four other areas: youth development; assistance for seniors and veterans; career and business services; and community health and safety.

"It is great to bring smiles a few days a year," Sanchez said of his group's expanded mission, "but we're also seeking avenues to eliminate the cycle of poverty that exists in some parts of Jurupa Valley."

For more information, please contact Angel Sanchez Jr. at


Photo credit: Gabriel Huerta Photography

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