Isla Vista Youth Project On Course to Raise $1.9 Million

Maddie Lee/Staff Reporter

Madeleine Lee
Staff Reporter

In the midst of its 45th anniversary year, the Isla Vista Youth Project (IVYP) has rolled out out the Legacy and Vision Campaign to raise $1.9 million for increased service in the greater I.V. community for decades to come.

As of last week, IVYP had reached 65 percent of its fundraising goal, with proceeds intended to buy out the building that currently operates as its Children’s Center on Phelps Road. The organization thereby hopes to eliminate overhead mortgage costs in their entirety, allowing future proceeds and donations to be spent directly on programs that benefit the community.

“Our old childcare center was bought out 15 years ago, and you’ll walk past it now and see an apartment building,” IVYP business manager Tyler Speier, who began volunteering with the group in high school, said. “We don’t want that to happen again, and having our own building will definitely ensure our tenure in the community.”

The Legacy and Vision Campaign, launched in October 2015, is inspired by success stories like that of Elizabeth Padilla, who founded IVYP 19 years ago as a single mom working full-time as a maid to make ends meet, according to a profile included in organization’s annual report. Using the skills she learned in IVYP’s Family Resource Programs, she has since obtained a college degree and a position as IVYP site supervisor. Her daughter is currently enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley.

IVYP hopes to create more success stories like Padilla’s. Nearly half a century in the making, the non-profit organization runs four local programs — each with its own myriad of services — including the children’s center, an after-school program at Isla Vista Elementary School, the Family Resource Center and THRIVE Isla Vista.

Whether it be through classes to educate parents on healthy eating, budgeting and social services, or allowing children a safe, positive environment in which to grow alongside mentors and peers, IVYP works not only to provide community resources, but also to alleviate the cycle of poverty that affects the majority of the residents it serves — which amounted to 2,000 during the 2014-2015 academic year, according to IVYP’s most recent report.

In addition to monetary donations, the volunteer force behind IVYP — much of which comes from the UC Santa Barbara campus and Greek life organizations — is an integral part of what keeps its programs running. Hermanas Unidas, a multicultural organization and resource for Chicana and Latina women, volunteers with IVYP’s after-school and food-distribution programs every first Friday of the month. The group also organized Project Santa last December, with Christmas-themed activities and gifts for kids in the after-school program.

“It’s a great resource for the students and parents to have,” Alondra Salazar, Hermanas Unidas’ community service chair and a second-year English major, said in a statement regarding the group’s involvement. “The IV Youth Project does a truly exceptional job of creating an environment that is not only helpful to the lives of those involved but educational and fun.”

In the midst of it all, the upcoming 45th anniversary celebration in May is poised as a celebration of both the progress IVYP has inspired and the local donors and volunteers that have made such progress possible.

The celebration, to be held on Fri., May 6 at The Orchid Estate in Goleta, will feature a 1970s-style dinner alongside dancing and a silent auction. At $65 a ticket, all interested are welcome to attend and celebrate the event that, as Speier puts it, has been a long time coming.

“It is so important to celebrate good things that happen in Isla Vista,” Speier said. “Isla Vista is all too often put in the spotlight and remembered for the bad things that happen, and I think those outside our community forget that these are things that don’t define the really great community we have here.”

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