Former CFA intern making strides in Detroit

Former CFA intern Kayla Mason, now director of an organization of Detroit youth tackling political and social issues, was recently featured in Michigan Nightlight, an online resource site for those improving the lives of children in the state.

Mason worked for CFA from 2007 to 2009 as a student organizer and led education efforts at CSU Dominguez Hills during the “No Budget Cuts” campaign through Students for Quality Education, and was selected to be part of a faculty delegation to advocate against budget cuts in Washington D.C.

CFA’s Student Intern program began in 2003 as a way to provide opportunities for CSU students to learn organizing skills and develop their leadership capabilities, and build the student movement and work with CFA to fight to quality public higher education, said Kim Geron, CFA Vice-President and Student Intern coordinator.

“Through these activities they can develop skills useful for future employment in the labor movement and community,” he said. “Kayla’s dedication to empower Detroit’s youth is a continuation of her efforts since high school and at CSU Dominguez Hills to organize young people to demand justice and equity.
We in the CFA family are immensely proud of Kayla and all the former student interns who are organizing to make a difference throughout the country.”

Mason currently works at YOUTH VOICE and has developed a trademarked model, called StreetLite, to empower youth to “find their light while transforming their community,” Mason said.

The model helps reframe the conversation surrounding African American youth, and helps establish support services, cultural literacy, civic participation, and volunteerism for youth struggling in systems such as foster care, juvenile justice facilities and institutions.

“While society has labeled youth likely to be involved in the streets or prison, we recognize that systems have failed them and our model is the first step to a new life long journey to find their own light,” she said.

Mason is currently developed a university partnership structure for the model, where college students can work with youth in urban communities, professors can help develop new ways of youth participatory evaluations and youth involved in social justice can share knowledge with university students about their current community efforts.

Mason said working for CFA was “a turning point in my identity,” and helped her gain the confidence in her abilities and voice. As a member of SQE, she developed a sense of self-empowerment, confidence and purpose.

“If it wasn’t for working with CFA, I wouldn’t have become a community organizer and saw how much of an impact I could have to influence public policy,” she said.