Big Citizen HUB evolved from City Year’s successful Young Heroes program. The Young Heroes program has a twenty-year proven track record that spanned across twenty-two markets in the U.S. In the early 90’s City Year, Inc. was a mid-sized service organization that united people, ages 17-24, from all walks of life to serve their community in various ways, including clearing abandoned lots, renovating community gardens, serving in nursing homes and working with youth in schools. There was a middle school student that asked a City Year member, “Why can’t I be in City Year?” This sparked a 20-year journey of launching and refining a new leadership development program within the organization and across the country, called Young Heroes.
The Young Heroes program was launched in Los Angeles in 2007, filling a void in the city that was yet to be met. Over four years, with the leadership of Program Director, Mario Fedelin, the program would graduate 725 youth, partner with over 35 Los Angeles schools, and engage over 50 local organizations. In 2011, City Year made the difficult decision of discontinuing the program nationally due to a renewed focus of service and resources on in-school education and the high school drop out crisis. With City Year’s blessing, Mario Fedelin created Big Citizen HUB as a way of bringing a similar program back to the youth of Los Angeles and create a model for cities across the country.
From Young Heroes to Big Citizen HUB
The success of the Young Heroes program – both nationally and locally – serves as proof of concept of Big Citizen HUB.
Big Citizen HUB borrows successful structural pieces of Young Heroes – a diverse citywide population, out-of-school time, service learning, leadership development, young group facilitators/near-peer mentors – but incorporates its own unique elements:
- A unique culture of curiosity, gratitude, team, and adventure
- A deeper learning experience for Big Citizens by lengthening each module from 1 week to 1 month, allowing for ample time to inquire, serve, and reflect on each issue
- An extend program year (January through July) when school is out of session and there are fewer structured activities for our youth
- A final project, encouraging teams to choose a social issue of importance to them, and develop a service project in which to lead their friends and family
- A little-league-like continuum: elementary, middle school, high school, and team leader
- A Youth Development Professional Certification that will be obtained by each Team Leader