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High-Risk Students Help Launch “Stay in School” Campaign

SCOE Students Create and Produce TV Public Service Announcements

Student speaking at press conference

For many high school students, the decision to stay in school and earn their diploma is a tough one. That decision is especially tough for high-risk and at-risk students who face other challenges that interfere with their education: gangs, crime, poverty, and limited support at home. However, some high-risk students in Sacramento County are launching a public outreach effort to convince their peers to earn their diplomas.

A team of high school students attending Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) programs has unveiled a multimedia outreach campaign targeting their peers. Their "Reach for Your Dreams" media campaign combines Internet, social media, and television public service announcements. It is the result of a collaborative effort involving SCOE and the Sacramento Youth Empowerment Studios (SacYES).

"The students involved in this project know firsthand about the educational challenges high-risk teens face today because they have walked in their shoes. The messages they have created for their peers are real, positive, and very powerful," said David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools.

The "Reach for Your Dreams" website will serve as an information hub that can direct visitors to the education agencies in their communities where they can get more information about returning to school.

SacYES trained students from several SCOE community school sites in video production. The team produced four public service announcements that directly address issues surrounding high school dropouts. Students involved in the production earned stipends for their work over the summer.

Public Service Announcement Videos

Video 1: Christopher and Anthony (Vimeo and YouTube)
Video 2: Danh (Vimeo and YouTube)
Video 3: Darlene (Vimeo and YouTube)
Video 4: JT (Vimeo and YouTube)

"I learned a lot of video production techniques and experienced many new things. All of these things have helped me with making a better future for myself. I know I found my career in the long run," said Anthony Ochoa, an 11th grade LINKS student at Gerber Jr./Sr. High School, a SCOE community school.

The program provided high-risk students an opportunity to learn new skills and improve their participation and academics, as well as develop their leadership abilities.

"Morally, this project has taught me that even though things might not go the way you intend them to, you must trust that others only mean well when suggesting changes," said Christopher Estrella, a 2011 graduate of Elinor L. Hickey Jr./Sr. High School, a SCOE community school education program.

"These young adults worked at a summer job in a professional, skilled environment. They had the opportunity to learn valuable technical, job, and life skills, and they excelled," said Aubrey Lara, Program Manager for the Sacramento Youth Empowerment Studios. "Maybe even more important than learning video production skills, they learned about making positive life decisions to help them navigate the adult world."

In addition to being available for viewing and download from the site, the public service announcements are posted on the SCOE and SacYES websites. The videos are also available on Vimeo, YouTube, and Facebook, as part of the students' outreach campaign. Local television stations in the Sacramento County region are also being asked to include the announcements in their regular rotation.


The Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) is one of 58 county offices of education in the State of California. SCOE plays a vital role in providing technical assistance, curriculum and instructional support, staff development, legal and financial advice, and oversight to Sacramento County school districts. LINKS is a groundbreaking SCOE career technical education model that is aimed at helping at-risk and high-risk students succeed. Services are tailored to individual students based on their specific needs instead of through traditional, scripted education.

Youth Empowerment Studios (YES) is a workforce development social enterprise that provides youth from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods employment opportunities as Youth Media Consultants, while also providing government, education and non-profit sectors, as well as businesses that are dedicated to improving the social welfare of our communities, professional quality and competitively priced media solutions. Youth Empowerment Studios is a social enterprise established by the Center for Multicultural Cooperation (CMC), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. CMC provides youth service and leadership experiences to hundreds of youth from throughout the central San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento metropolitan region each year.

Student speaking at press conference
Students standing at press conference
Student being interviewed after at press conference