Lesli LeGras: Fighting for a Community

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lesli

Why NPQ serves Lesli proudly

My role right now is as Director of Education for the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, or CRCD. We’re based in a particular neighborhood of South L.A. called Vernon-Central, which is basically ground zero for urban poverty, but is also home to a really large population of young people, 16 to 24, who want to get connected to education and employment, and show leadership in the community. My whole nonprofit trajectory, I’ve worked in youth development programs. I really love working with young people, and I love being in this community.

The beauty of the work we do at CRCD is that because it’s comprehensive community development, we’re working in multiple pockets of the community, so we’re providing not only education but housing and jobs. We’re also working with small businesses in the neighborhood to build up the economic infrastructure, and so on and so forth.

Students have come to our doors in need of a high school diploma, and so they enroll in our school, but they also need some job training, so they do construction training with us, which means they get to work on some of the affordable housing projects CRCD develops. And then, when we open those affordable housing units, they themselves get the opportunity to move into one. There’s a sort of beauty in them being able to live in a space they actively contributed to building while also getting their high school diploma with us.

For me, the dream is that eventually my job and my team’s jobs are taken over by young people who have gone through our programs.

I was born and raised in South LA. I love this community and I feel like I am a part of it: I know my way around it, I know the local businesses, and I know the local nonprofits. That really drives my feeling like I am participating in this work as a community member, not somebody that happened to get a job in this community. I’m shoulder-to-shoulder with residents, including young people, working on making the community whole—thriving and revitalized—so folks feel comfortable walking the streets, and so people feel like it’s beautiful, and there’s housing available, and food available and great schools available.

Why Lesli cares about NPQ…

NPQ is an easy go-to for us to provide additional information and professional development for the staff in a way that’s…easily accessible? Like, we can tap into an article. It’s part of our way to ensure that staff is on the cutting edge of what’s happening within our field.