- Community Organizing
- Direct Service
- Environmental Justice
- Youth Development
- Community Stability
A full list of the EYCEJ team can be viewed here.
Board of Directors
A full list of East Yard’s board members can be viewed here.
The Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative is a network of organizations working together to strengthen the capacity of the nonprofit sector and increase civic engagement in Southeast LA. Founded in 2011 by eleven core organizations, the Collaborative seeks to revitalize the communities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Florence-Firestone, Huntington Park, Lynwood, Maywood, South Gate, Vernon, and Walnut Park.
Our “Collaborative Spotlight” series highlights the work and impact of our individual Collaborative members, each of whom have a long history of providing service to the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) region and advocating for its community members. In today’s post, we highlight the work and impact of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.
Regional Collaboration for Change in SELA
The community voice is central to the work of the Southeast Los Angeles Collaborative. Our member organizations, which have long histories of service and advocacy in the SELA region, understand that if our work if to be successful, we must collaborate with community members to create lasting, authentic change in Southeast LA’s communities. Additionally, many staff members in our member organizations are residents of SELA themselves, so for them, collaboration is not simply about setting priorities for the future, but about acknowledging the complex history of the region and the challenges its residents have faced. Today, we spotlight one such organization, which has served as a passionate advocate for justice and intergenerational activism in the SELA region for nearly two decades: East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.
Fighting for Environmental Justice in Southeast Los Angeles
Founded in 2001, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice began life as a group of residents from the Commerce/East Los Angeles area who founded the organization to address the increasing environmental health impacts of industrial pollution in their community, as well as several pending expansion projects adjacent to homes, school and parks. Community-led activism and change has remained a hallmark of East Yard’s work since its inception, as they have collaborated with community members to develop programs and fight for authentic change and progress in the region.
Among their most notable achievements is their work to shut down a lead-acid battery recycling factory in Vernon owned and operated by Exide Technologies, Inc. East Yard played a key role in ensuring the factory was shut down, as they worked alongside community members to advocate for justice and the complete shut down the factory, which was spewing arsenic (a carcinogen) and lead (a neurotoxin particularly potent in children) into the air of the SELA communities.
An Intergenerational Movement for Change
The East Yard team’s passion for environmental justice and advocacy in SELA is born from their deep roots in the region and their personal understanding of the injustices and hardships SELA’s community members have faced throughout the years. This nuanced understanding has led East Yard to focus on long-term strategy as a key component of authentic change in SELA, including the creation of several youth development programs, which seek to teach students in SELA how to effectively advocate for justice in their communities.
Among their most notable youth programs is Youth in Action (YA!), a club in local Bell Gardens High School in which students can become involved in local environmental health and justice work. The club provides a space for young residents in SELA to learn how to create positive change in the community and also provides an opportunity to develop leadership skills, public speaking skills, and facilitation skills. Through these programs and their advocacy work, East Yard is creating an intergenerational movement for change and amplifying the voices of community members who have been overlooked and marginalized for far too long.
As part of the Southeast LA Collaborative, East Yard are committed advocated for SELA’s community members and contribute their extensive and comprehensive knowledge of the SELA region and its history. Executive Director mark! Lopez served as a member of the Summit of Possibilities’ Planning Committee, which helped produce the Central 710 Freeway Asset Mapping Report for the Collaborative. They have also led community events focused on civic engagement and transparency, including ballot forums on Props. 68 and 70 in 2018. Both Executive Director mark! and Development and Communications Lead Alessandro Negrete also serve on several of the Collaborative’s committees, providing invaluable perspective on both the assets and challenges of the SELA region. East Yard’s invaluable contributions and input have ensured that the Collaborative’s work is grounded in a community-based approach and will continue to be in the future.
East Yard has been a pillar of the SELA communities for nearly two decades, working tirelessly to help create healthy and safe communities where Southeast LA’s residents can live, work, and play. Throughout their advocacy work, various community events, and workshops, what is most evident in their work is their deep compassion for their fellow community members and their commitment to the pursuit of justice for the indignities that SELA’s communities have faced in the past. “We believe it is moral and just for the community to have a say in decisions that will affect them,” says mark!. “The work cannot move forward any other way.” Thanks to passionate community advocates such as East Yard, the community voice will continue to remain at the core of the SELA Collaborative’s work as we continue towards our shared vision of an informed, engaged, and empowered SELA community.
East Yard Delegates in the SELA Collaborative
Member and Executive Director
Communications and Development