City’s students present project at White House


Kenia Valence-Galeana and Ana Karina Lomeli-Cadenas

Mike Madriaga

Two City College students made a special presentation at the White House on Monday.

Ana Karina Lomeli-Cadenas and Kenia Valence-Galeana presented their winning proposal for designing youth programs at the White House for Learning Exchange and Celebration. They were a part of a subdivision of the San Diego Workforce Partnership out-of-school youth outreach project called Helping Youth Pursue Excellence (H.Y.P.E.).

There were 80 teams that entered the nationwide challenge and the Workforce Partnership team was one of the 15 chosen for the last phase.

The students are supported by their mentors, Sandra Bauler and Amanda Cheyney, youth program specialists at Workforce Partnership.

“How might we design services and programs for out-of-school youth that will engage them and produce great outcomes?” was the question presented by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The team came up with a formula and created their own question: “How might we outreach to out-of-school youth through family and peer-to-peer connections?”

Their answer was a big part of their winning proposal.

“It’s about incorporating the young adults’ perspectives in designing youth programs,” said Wilda Wong, Workforce Partnership communications specialist. “At the core of customer-centered design thinking is inviting the end-user to participate in every stage of the planning or design of experiences.”

The initiative by the Department of Labor aims to simplify processes to make sure the agency focuses on doing things that will benefit the end-user. In San Diego, the team focused on championing best practices with out-of-school youth, which often means including the very people in discussions about the programs that would be serving them.

“It is everything you do,” said Cheyney, “focusing on the people you’re serving, practicing empathy, being open to feedback, not waiting until things are perfect, using feedback to continuously try different things, being open to listening to customers — in their spaces, in their shoes.”