“What I can say is, living over here my entire life, I’ve never had an opportunity given to me from the area, only examples of how to mess up, and what I didn’t want to do.”

Def Jam recording artist and Long Beach native Vince Staples just announced the launch of a program for the youth of Long Beach, known as The Youth Institute. Partnering with councilman Rex Richardson, Staples aims to provide access to opportunities for his community.

Press Telegram reports the institute will be offered at Hamilton Middle School, and will include filmmaking, graphic design, music production, 3D printing and product design for 20 young people. The City of Long Beach will dedicate $10,000 to the program out of their North Long Beach Educational Fund, in additional to Staples’ donation. “We’re all hands on-deck to make sure we have the best opportunities for our youth this summer,” Richardson said in an interview.

Staples emphasized that he wants the youth of North Long Beach to feel acknowledged, and to know they matter. Staples grew up there and often makes references to the neighborhood in much of his music. Watch the video for “Norf Norf” here.

Long Beach Unified board member Megan Kerr  elaborated on the program by ensuring that hard skills in STEM will be offered in addition to social and emotional learning. In addition to the Youth Institute, officials have also announced increased job opportunities and summer programming for young people.

Staples isn’t one to shy away from social issues in his music, watch the video to my personal favorite, “Senorita,” for a thoughtful meditation on power, politics and privilege. 

Staples’ latest project, Summertime ’06, has been described as brilliant, unapologetic and honest. Listen to it here.

“I think the most important thing is opportunities.” — Vince Staples

Vince Staples is helping youth in Long Beach
Photo: Giphy

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