Alumni

Kandace Vallejo

Kandace Vallejo
Location: Austin, Texas Cohort Start Year: 2018 Project Topics: Behavioral and Mental Health, Leadership Development, Public Policy, Violence and Trauma Populations Served: Adolescents (12-20 years), African-American/Black, At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Children and Families, Foster Youth and Families, Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, Immigrants and Refugees, Incarcerated or Formerly Incarcerated Populations, Low-Income Communities, Urban Communities, Young Children (0-5 years)
Founder and Executive Director
Youth Rise Texas

FOCUS
Being a teenager is hard for everyone, but when a teenage child unexpectedly loses a parent, it changes their life forever. This loss becomes even more difficult when shrouded in the shame, silence, and economic hardship that too often accompany the sudden loss of a parent to incarceration or deportation. Texas has one of the nation’s highest incarceration rates, and has become ground-zero in the expansion of for-profit incarceration and immigrant detention. More state and federal prisoners, detained immigrants, and refugee families are locked in privately-run institutions in Texas than in any other state. However, discourse around these politically-charged topics often leaves out the impact these systems have on the children left behind. This is why Kandace Vallejo founded Youth Rise Texas, so that youth harmed by the criminalization and deportation of a parent can cultivate their resilience through collective healing, leadership, and action.

MORE ABOUT KANDACE
Kandace grew up in a family harmed by criminalization and deportation. She never imagined there was anything that could have changed her family’s situation until she began working as a community organizer. After 12 years in the immigrant worker rights movement, Kandace transitioned to founding Youth Rise Texas so that she could channel the untapped power of impacted youth to end the age of mass incarceration and deportation.

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