Latinos make up the majority of California's young people. So their future helps shape the future of the state. That’s why we dedicated a special edition of our broadcast last week to exploring challenges Latino youth face when it comes to education, jobs and financial security.
It’s part of a collaboration with NPR called A Nation Engaged, about unlocking economic opportunities for more Americans.
We met UC students mired in debt, a teen who has to take a long bus ride to get on the internet and a young single mom who’s struggling to get her GED.
Guadalupe Beltran is a young mom who's working full time, but who still relies on food stamps. She’s part of a program in Fresno that’s trying to get her into a higher-paying job. But first, she needs to get her GED.
"I need to get this diploma," says Beltran. “I need to get this out of the way, it’s like a big ole’ stone that’s right there. I need to move it."
Guillermo Rogel is a 22-year-old from Riverside who reached his dream of graduating from a UC campus. But now he’s saddled with $45,000 in debt. Experts say if current trends in tuition increases persist, the University of California will become the most expensive public higher education system in the country. We hear from four UC alums and students -- from the 1950s to the present -- about the evolving promise of a free college education.
“It definitely is a scary thought to think about. There’s $45,000 in debt that I have to get over before I can really take on the rest of life,” says Rogel.
Rosy Mendez has to take a windy, slow-moving bus through the desert to the public library each day to be able to do her homework. The daughter of farmworkers, she has no internet service at home. We teamed up with youth reporters from Coachella Unincorporated to explore how transportation challenges can affect opportunities for Latino youth in the Coachella Valley desert.
"Transportation does have a lot to do with the opportunity you’re afforded,” says youth reporter Karla Martinez, who interviewed Rosy Mendez on the bus. “It kind of limits you. Like, can I get to the next stop, can I get to the next goal in my life?"
Listen to the full show: