Student Success Story
Submitted By: Imperial Valley ROP
IVROP Project Éxito Helps Ex-Gang Member
At 17 years old, Manuel Castro will be released from formal probation in March, 2014. Manuel moved to Imperial Valley three years ago from Riverside. This was a big transition for him. In Riverside, Manuel was involved with a large gang. The gang taught him how to dress, talk and behave in order to gain "respect." After moving, Manuel initially continued his reckless behavior, leading to his arrest. Following his arrest, IVROP began to work with Manuel in December, 2014, as a participant in Project Éxito.
On an annual basis, IVROP Project Éxito serves 65 youth offenders of high poverty and high crime geographic locations in Imperial County (from specific US Census tracts in Brawley, Calexico, and El Centro). Target services include diversion and expungement, intensive case management support, individual career plans, education, tutoring, mentoring, paid on-the-job training, employability and nine months of follow-up. It is funded by the US Department of Labor.
Manuel has transitioned from Valley High School to Central Union High School, where he will now have an opportunity to graduate from a regular high school. He actively attends program workshops and always participates in classes. He also meets with a tutor every Wednesday. Manuel has demonstrated that he wants to change his life and understands what it takes to reach his goals. He hopes to one day join the Marines and make his family proud. Manuel comes from a family line of gang involvement, but he is breaking that chain and plans to never return to that lifestyle. He currently resides with his aunt Alejandra where he believes he is receiving the structure needed to support his career and educational goals.