Make a Difference in the Community With Your Library

Teens Leading Change is open to teens in grades 9-12 and 14-19 years old.

When you join your local library’s Teen Council, you’ll have the opportunity to develop and participate in a civic action project and implement positive change in your community. Projects form in September, but you can join anytime.

What are the benefits of participating?

  • Receive volunteer credit & community service hours
  • Learn valuable leadership skills such as collaboration, problem solving, project management, and technical and digital literacy
  • Gain knowledge about the library, local government and democracy in action
  • Have an opportunity to receive a Teens Leading Change Library Leadership Award
  • Make new friends and have fun!

This cycle, our libraries are hosting 8 Teens Leading Change projects focusing on the following topics:

Learning Disabilities Project - Chatsworth Branch

The teens at the Chatsworth library will create programming around the issue of reading engagement among those with learning disabilities. Project participants will provide resources for children and families introducing young learners to the joys of reading, host events celebrating literacy and reading, and serve as role models to younger children struggling with literacy. They hope to use the library’s resources to create excitement and enthusiasm around reading for young learners, especially those with learning disabilities.

Food Waste Project - Chinatown Branch

The TLC group at the Chinatown library will be learning about what contributes to food waste and how to prevent it. They hope to connect food distributors, such as school cafeterias and grocery stores, to organizations that aid low-income families and the unhoused community, and collaborate to start a Farmers Market in Chinatown. They will also learn about what food waste is, the extent of the problem, and how to resolve it. Despite the lack of attention given to this topic, the teens are passionate about finding solutions to eliminating food waste in their community.

Food Insecurity Project - Lakeview Terrace Branch

TLC project participants at the Lakeview library will be exploring food inequity in the form of a neighborhood gardening initiative. They will be creating demonstration gardens at the library, sharing seedlings and tools with neighbors, and ultimately working towards a more sustainable future. The teens are enthusiastic about sharing what they learn with community members and discussing what neighborhood gardening can and should look like.

Environmental Racism Project - Palisades Branch

Palisades teens will explore the intersection between systemic racism and environmental activism through political action and community activism. BIPOC communities suffer the effects of climate change disproportionately more than their wealthier and more privileged counterparts, and the teens of the Palisades branch hope to develop a framework to create a more inclusive movement against climate change. Activities will build awareness, involve existing activism, and pursue changes at a legislative level.

Neighborhood Beautification Project - Pio-Pico Koreatown Branch

The teens at the Pio-Pico Branch Library are interested in tackling neighborhood beautification through grassroots activism and community-based advocacy efforts. They were inspired by their own observations around increased littering and a lack of appreciation for outdoor spaces in their community and hope to show other community members the value of green spaces. They also hope to set up a community garden at their local branch library where library patrons can learn about nutrition and health and enjoy a small natural space in the urban jungle.

Financial Literacy Project - Pico Union Branch and Angeles Mesa Branch

The Pico-Union and Angeles Mesa TLC cohorts will be creating financial literacy programming in the hopes of helping low-income and first-generation households avoid being exploited by financial institutions and reducing intergenerational financial burdens that contribute to the cycle of poverty. This project will also explore wealth inequality and its disproportionate effect on communities of color.

School-To-Prison Pipeline Project - Robertson Branch

The participants in the Robertson library project will be raising awareness of the roles both adults and students play in the school-to-prison pipeline. Activities will include interviews of those affected by the school-to-prison pipeline as well as the creation of an educational short film on the issue. The teens hope that their research and subsequent insights can be used to educate their peers and communities and create a ripple effect in eliminating the pipeline.

Housing Crisis Project - Silver Lake Branch and Echo Park Branch

The Silver Lake and Echo Park Teen Councils will be exploring the issue of homelessness through both civic engagement and direct action. Teens from these branches will be discussing the systemic causes and political failures behind homelessness, interacting with advocates and activists for the unhoused community, and learning what assistance would be the most impactful. The teens decided on this topic after witnessing the treatment of unhoused neighbors by other community members and unanimously voted to pursue this issue. Their hope is to break through the society-wide apathy and reinvigorate the conversation around solutions to homelessness.

Our current cycle of projects is no longer accepting new participants. Please register here to receive the link for our upcoming Teens Leading Change showcase on April 30.

To be notified when Teens Leading Change cycle 7 begins, please fill out the form below. In the meantime, teens interested in volunteering are encouraged to inquire at their local libraries.

The Past is our FUTURE

Teens create a new archive of Little Tokyo by taking first-hand oral history and testimonial through first-person accounting, then produce Manga books based on their stories and experiences. This project combines the teen’s interest in drawing Manga and their curiosity about the library’s community of Little Tokyo.

Northridge Trashbusters

Northridge Branch Library’s Young Adult Librarian Cindy Holsey gathered her teen volunteers to form “Northridge Trashbusters,” a group dedicated to cleaning up their community. Teens collected 25 large bags of trash and weeded numerous city planters along a half-mile stretch of Reseda Boulevard.

Tech for Seniors

The Tech for Seniors idea was developed during a brainstorming session at a library teen council meeting. The teens wanted their proposal to make the Westwood Branch more accessible to older adults who are physically unable to visit the library, and who wanted to learn to use the library’s e-media resources. At the same time, the teens aimed to address the issues of social isolation and loneliness among seniors.

Pacoima Mural

Marcia Melkonian, Young Adult Librarian, helped unite teens at the Pacoima Branch Library to create a visual voice for youth through TLC. During this pilot project, library staff chaperoned weekend field trips for Pacoima teens to visit museums, galleries and cultural institutions around Los Angeles to serve as inspiration for them to produce their own expressive art. The teens then attended library workshops with local muralist Kristy Sandoval to design a 25-foot mural focusing on environmental justice.

The Teens Leading Change Initiative is funded by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.