The Pico Youth & Family Center will host its 11th Annual Hope & Unity Awards Gala on Saturday, September 28, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the iconic Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica. The event will feature a silent auction, dinner, community leadership awards, live performances and inspiring testimony from the youth who benefit from PYFC’s unique and innovative programming.

This Gala’s Awardees are Maria Loya and Underground Scholars of UCLA.

Maria Loya is being recognized for her historic legal victory against the City of Santa Monica’s illegal and unconstitutional at large election scheme. Ms. Loya and her legal team confronted the local City establishment and one of the country’s most expensive law firms in a six-week trial and won.

“District elections will make it less expensive to run for a seat on our City Council and will ensure every neighborhood is represented, making our democracy more accessible and inclusive,” stated awardee Maria Loya.

Underground Scholars (US) of UCLA supports formerly incarcerated and system impacted students. US of UCLA provides various services and advocacy to help students succeed academically and graduate. “For us, it’s about undoing the school-to-prison pipeline. “We are trying to create a prison-to-school pipeline. It’s about creating that pathway.” Rodriguez explained that the “school-to-prison pipeline” is a term that describes the systematic way many youth from low-income minority communities tend to be funneled from public schools into the criminal justice system. “PYFC has disrupted the “school to prison pipeline” in Santa Monica and has been a consistent supporter of historically marginalized youth and young adults in our community. Where most youth centers cut off services once you turn 18, PYFC keeps the doors open for us to realize our full potential as students,” stated US co-founder Rodrigo Vazquez.

The PYFC is a unique youth center in Santa Monica that provides culturally relevant programming to underserved youth and their families. This innovative youth center opened the City’s first public recording studio and also offers the ground breaking Social Justice & Mindfulness Summer Camp for kids. PYFC is a training ground for art, entertainment and technology and social justice work in our City. PYFC invites everyone to attend the 11th Annual Hope & Unity Awards Gala to raise needed funds to support underserved youth and to keep PYFC’s mission and vision alive. To learn more about PYFC and the Gala visit:

Submitted by Oscar de la torre

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