Salinas Public Library

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Salinas Public Library : Learning Center

Salinas , Estados UnidosSalinas , Estados Unidos
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Salinas Public Library Learning Center (SPLLC) provides opportunities that promote educational growth, and advocates to develop a lifelong commitment to critical academic engagement through the implementation of youth inspired learning models that recognizes community youth as agents of change.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if the youth that surround us in Salinas are the true catalysts to create, inspire, and sustain the educational reform that will transform our neighborhoods?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The Salinas Public Library Learning Center (SPLLC) works to directly push back on the outcomes of the social frameworks which impact our children and families in our neighborhood classrooms. From language acquisition and literacy to cultural adjustment and behavioral norms, there is a tremendous need to recognize where our Latino students and their families are at, and to meet them in responsive method that will grow a love for learning.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The SPLLC Program offers relevant employment in the fields of education, arts, and culture that build the voice and capacity of Salinas youth to create positive systemic change throughout our neighborhoods. The SPLLC model recruits local community college and university students from the neighborhoods which surround our schools to provide bilingual educational support for these children and their families. The model recognizes the lived experiences and cultural wealth these young adults and future educators possess and works to grow and develop their leadership and communication skills to build a local cadre of future agents of change. SPLLC believes our best assets to institute and sustain the change and investment are our youth.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The largest ethnic demographic in Salinas is Latino. Spanish is spoken in over 60% of our homes. Pockets of poverty hover at nearly 50% in areas. Our biggest labor industry is agriculture that pays an annual salary of $13k. Our schools were taken over by the State for continual failure to meet standards. In 2008 we lost 28 lives to gang violence. These are the conditions our children live in, and what they experience everyday when going to school. SPLLC hires youth who live this, who have moved into higher education, and can share their experiences with the younger generation. We build on the skills and experiences that these young people grew to become successful, and support them teaching students how to navigate schooling their community

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Since its creation the SPLLC has placed nearly $60,000 in the pockets of Salinas youth residents. 54 students, athletes, artists, and community advocates have grown and developed their skillsets with the support of the program and its leadership. Children and families not only rely on, but believe in the community responsive work that has been created as an outcome of the project because of the educational, behavioral, and communication growth of the participants. We have seen students off to universities, graduate school, and full time work in community non profits and the educational sector. We support over 100 students a day, at 2 community sites, and developed an 8 week long summer program that feeds, educates, engages, supports, and travels with 50 students during their time away from the classroom that is in its third year of implementation. We are now an expectation in education.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

One of the key milestones was the adoption of 2 City of Salinas job classifications that provide employment opportunities for community youth. This has institutionalized the participation and role youth play in their local government employment pool, and how they can transform and broaden the scope of local government work. While the job classification was created specifically for the Library Department, there is a potential for City departments such as legal, public safety, or engineering to use these jobs to incorporate youth voice and perspective in their work as they grow our neighborhoods

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

This project has grown immensely since its inception not only in broadening the scale of youth participants, but the capacity of the youth led programs to seek additional funding. Multiple funders have recognized the validity and impact of the program, and the program budget has doubled with the support of additional grant funding. With the adoption of City job classifications there is potential for the work to become part of the local budget.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

In Salinas a broad collective has emerged to provide opportunities for community youth. Entire consortiums have been developed to collaboratively provide resources, opportunities, and funding to uplift the work and policies that support youth development and capacity growth. The SPLLC Program stands uniquely on its own as one of the only agencies that provides direct well paid employment to community youth, and has created unique job classifications that have been adopted by the City of Salinas specifically designed to support the hiring and development of youth in our local neighborhoods.

Founding Story

The SPLLC was grown out of need. Of watching students struggle to learn how to adjust to not only speaking a new language, but navigating a new culture in their classrooms. Success was seen when students were met in their own language, by familiar faces, by what made them feel loved and at home. SPLLC staff aimed to grow access those in the community who cared by reaching out to local schools, to neighborhood leaders, and educators who were invested in developing a love for learning and confidence in exploring new ideas and thoughts.


We have one full time staff member that manages all grants, funding sources, marketing, and community outreach. The core of the team is community students. We currently have 18 students from our neighborhoods employed by the City of Salinas to support and implement the SPLLC program. Students attend Hartnell Community College, CSUMB, SJSU, and we have alumni of UC Davis, CSU Fresno, and UC Berkeley; all of which were born and raised in Salinas.
About You
About You
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About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, CA, Salinas

Country where this project is creating social impact

, CA, Salinas

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family, Individuals, Foundations, NGOs, Businesses, Regional government, Other.

Supplemental Information
On which of the following California counties does your project focus its impact? (check all that apply):


How does your idea help cultivate empathy skills to strengthen communities and equip young people to become leaders of change?

The Salinas Public Library Learning Center (SPLLC) model directly develops empathy in all participants by recruiting local youth and young adults to serve as community mentors, lead and develop educational events, and tutor elementary school students to build educational capacity and grow a love for learning. All youth who participate walk the same streets, shop in the same stores, and have attended the same schools of the children who receive services from these emerging Salinas leaders. The SPLLC model relies on empathy, communication, and local cultural wealth as the foundational assets to uplift and engage community students in their educational and personal development.

Tell us about your partnerships

The Salinas Public Library Learning Center partners with a variety of local educational institutions. Hartnell Community College provides a wide pool of tutor and youth leaders who are employed to deliver educational support to community youth. California State University at Monterey Bay (CSUMB) funnels over 100 students a year into the learning centers to tutor and mentor community youth through their Service Learning and Education departments.


One of the key challenges is addressing the scope of need in the Salinas community. With a population well over 90% Latino in the 93905, coupled with over 88% of our schools in project improvement in the last decade, the demand for bilingual and culturally responsive support for our students is constant. The program succeeds on small group and one on one support and cannot be scaled to match need without significantly growing the staff. The SPLCC has been invited to expand onto local school campuses in the after school setting, but is limited in its capacity based on the number of employees.

Does your project use any of the following approaches to cultivate community members as empathetic and collaborative leaders?

encouraging philanthropy, creating a safe space, developing emotional competency, building leadership skills, group play, storytelling, immersion, collective problem-solving, identifying shared values and differences, instilling courage, enabling action.

Target Age Group(s)

3-5, 6-12, 13-17.