IPS Wins Sierra Health Foundation Grant

New program will support the Latinx immigrant youth community in the San Diego border region

SAN DIEGO, December 1, 2021 – The Institute for Public Strategies announced it has received a grant to address substance use in the Latinx immigrant youth community along the Mexican border.

The grant comes from Elevate Youth California, a project of The Center at Sierra Health Foundation under contract with the California Department of Health Care Services. IPS is one of 61 community-based and tribal organizations in California to get a portion of more than $52 million funded by revenue generated from Proposition 64, which legalized adult non-medical use of cannabis.

“The project will develop the Youth in Action coalition to critically analyze the social contexts and injustices that negatively affect their development and explore historical divestment in their communities,” IPS Project Manager Brittany Hunsinger said. “The youth in the 12 to 26 age range will identify and champion policies, systems and environmental factors that establish equitable investments in their neighborhoods.”

Youth in Action will be focused in San Diego neighborhoods along the border and Barrio Logan, as well as the cities of Chula Vista, National City and Imperial Beach, as part of IPS’s Partnership for Success (P4S) coalition. The youth will have adults ready to mentor them as activists, building social connection and community cohesion.

“Along with their parents, they will learn about how their behavior and decision-making related to alcohol and drugs are influenced by the context in which they live,” Hunsinger said. “They will also explore concepts including community trauma, toxic stress, Adverse Childhood Experiences, the impact the war on drugs has had on them, prevention, and possibly harm reduction strategies, if appropriate.”

The Youth in Action members will participate in a Resident Leadership Academy, which provides leadership, advocacy, and youth-led participatory action research training. They will be empowered as leaders and change agents, actively defining their own needs. IPS will maximize their autonomy, voice, and choice in all stages of the program. IPS will recruit immigrant youth and young adults, documented or not, who are interested in social justice and advocacy.

The group gatherings will consist of healing circles to provide youth a safe space to listen to each other’s stories and cultivate a peer support network.  A trip to Sacramento may also be part of the experience as the Youth in Action learn how to become civically engaged and address lawmakers while advocating for themselves and others in their communities.

“Elevate Youth California prioritizes youth leadership and invests in healing and community growth,” said Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation and The Center. “Our new partners will work directly with youth to improve the environment of communities impacted by the war on drugs, which has led to inequity in our health systems and the criminalization of youth in low-income communities and communities of color. California’s youth are talented, capable and ready for this investment.”

IPS works alongside communities to build power, challenge systems of inequity, protect health and improve quality of life. IPS has a vision for safe, secure, vibrant and healthy communities where everyone can thrive.


Paul Levikow
Institute for Public Strategies
(619) 476-9100 ext. 112