Empowering Youth Through Community Journalism

By Giving List Staff   |   October 11, 2021
Photography Credit: WELA YMCA Youth Institute

For the past 11 years, Boyle Heights Beat has offered a unique brand of bilingual journalism in an often neglected, yet critically important community within Metropolitan Los Angeles. From its early days as a home to many Japanese and Russian Jewish immigrant families to its current status as a beacon of Southern California’s Latino community, Boyle Heights has a long history as one of L.A.’s most diverse and culturally rich neighborhoods.

Noted by both The New York Times and the Columbia Journalism Review as a crucial part of the city’s journalistic landscape, the nonprofit news platform is predominantly staffed by young reporters, most of whom are first-generation residents.

Boyle Heights Beat has an innovative approach that includes quarterly public meetings to gather story ideas and provide a platform for community concerns. Beat Publisher and Executive Director Kris Rivera, a bilingual former television writer and producer, joined the project shortly after it was launched in 2011 by Michelle Levander, director of the Center for Health Journalism at USC, and Pedro Rojas, then-executive editor of the nation’s most widely read Spanish daily newspaper, La Opinión.

“The idea was to create a community news project where the students produce the work and have all of the authority on what stories they want to cover that are meaningful in that community,” Rivera says.

Boyle Heights, which consists of 100,000 residents coexisting within just six square miles, was an obvious choice for a new approach to community-based journalism.

“It was primed for a project like this,” Rivera continues. “It is a community that is rich in immigrant history and the arts. It was also the center point for the Chicano Movement in the 1960s and remains a low income and low educational attainment community that is 97 percent Latino.”

The Beat, or Pulso de Boyle Heights, comes out in English and Spanish, both online and in print. The Beat recently launched a podcast called Radio Pulso, which offers a deep dive into the neighborhood’s vibrant culture, featuring interviews with local chefs, musicians, artists, poets, educators, and community activists. 

Nearly all of the hundreds of high-school-age reporters who have worked for the project in the past decade have gone on to college, Rivera is proud to point out.

One former Beat reporter, Carol Martinez, is a 2019 graduate of Theodore Roosevelt High School. Now attending UCLA, she says joining Boyle Heights Beat gave her the opportunity to discover a passion for reporting. 

“I’m happy to say because I found the Beat,” Martinez says, “I have been able to gain the skill set I need and will step into the study of journalism with the tools for a passion I wholeheartedly enjoy.”

Andrea Galdamez, who served as a youth reporter during her sophomore, junior, and senior years in high school and is now attending University of California, Irvine, says:

Boyle Heights Beat was one of the highlights of my high school career. Not only did I learn to become a better writer, I became aware of my culture, traditions, and community. This program helped shape me into a curious young journalist.”

 

Boyle Heights Beat

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Matching Challenge

The first $1,500 will be matched.

Support Local Journalism, Essential to the Community’s Landscape

Boyle Heights Beat is seeking $250,000 to continue to train and mentor local high school students as community journalists, allowing them to explore and uplift issues such as social injustice and racial disparities. The Beat is the only nonprofit bilingual news platform serving L.A.’s historic Eastside neighborhood; the project has been hailed by The New York Times for serving “an ever-greater need” for immigrant communities to have their stories heard. 

Professional journalists teach youth how to become agents of social change, while providing a pathway to education and career possibilities to those from an underserved community. 

The Beat sustains its youth development and community news project entirely from foundations and individual support. With your help, it can continue its mission to provide news “por y para la comunidad” – for and by the community. 

To learn more or to donate, please visit boyleheightsbeat.com.

Mission

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community news project produced by youth, offering “noticias por y para la comunidad,” or  “news by and for the community.” Boyle Heights Beat offers a unique brand of community journalism, built around neighborhood meetings that youth reporters lead each quarter to solicit ideas and hear concerns. 

www.boyleheightsbeat.com
(818) 516-1138
Contact: Kris Rivera

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

Boyle Heights Beat (BHB) helped introduce me to the power of media, journalism, and communications in high school, without knowing it was going to be the field I was going to pursue in college and in the future. I think BHB is making a difference through storytelling and always sharing compelling and informative stories. This program is important for the community because students from low-income communities like Boyle Heights are the trailblazers of the future – future engineers, doctors, journalists. Bringing these resources to students gives them opportunities and shows them what they are capable of.
Guadalupe Lazaro
Former Boyle Heights Beat reporter;
Bachelor of Communications, UCLA 2020;
Currently USC Annenberg
Communications Mgmt. student

Key Supporters

California Community Foundation
California Humanities
CalMatters
Daniela Gershon
Goldhirsh Foundation
Institute for Nonprofit News
Jesse Hardman
Jessica Perez
KCRW
LAist/KPCC
Miami Foundation
Pedro Rojas
Pilar Marrero
Samuel Vasquez
Snap Foundation
The California Endowment
USC Good Neighbor Campaign
Willa Seidenberg
Yerba Buena Foundation
YR Media