As of October 2020, there are over 33,000 Latina/x/o's in California's child welfare system. From 2019 to 2021, an independent research project conducted at UC Berkeley, led by Michael Papias, discovered an internal identity deficit amongst Latina/x/o foster youth: Latina/x/o's who had entered the child welfare system experienced a loss in their cultural identity. However, the data also showed that Latina/x/o's who embraced their foster youth identity, had a stronger sense of autonomy, comfort, and personal confidence.
Although Tú eres Tú was originally built to support Latina/x/o foster youth voices. We have expanded to help all foster youth gain self-determination--the ability to define, name, and speak for oneself. We are creating cohorts of thirteen in the Fall, Spring, and Summer who will have free access to 35mm cameras, creative writing workshops, and professional printing services, as they build their own printed Zine. We approach Zine making as a tool to help our students regain control of their identity.
Our mission is to help all foster youth in California find their voice.
Spring 2021, Student
I felt free when making my zine. I shared it with my friends and family, they really liked it! We laughed at the photos I took of them...I put what I wanted without asking anyone for permission---it felt like total freedom
Program Supervisor, Seneca
Family of Agencies
Tú eres Tú has built trust with some of the most difficult to engage youth and has provided a much needed and unique opportunity for them to finally have space to explore, define, and embrace their Latinx identities in a world that has for too long held the narrative on how they see themselves
Spring 2021, Student
I liked that we got to learn while using cameras, listening to music, and talking to artists...the cameras were really fun! Making a zine was so easy and fun!
Meet The Team
Michael Papias was nine years old when he entered California's child welfare system. He became an Orphan and was raised by his tia/aunt.
Michael received his bachelors degree in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley in 2021. His undergraduate career focused on unraveling the connections between ethnicity, culture, and the child welfare system.
Michael's research, creative work, and activism focus on bringing awareness to all foster youth in the US and around the world.
Andrew became a ward of the court from a young age, bouncing around the different extensions of California’s Social Services System. He withdrew from high school for personal reasons believing higher education wasn’t directed towards him. After much time and contemplation, on his own terms, he got his GED and enrolled at Orange Coast College. After much dedication, he received his Associates and transferred to UC Berkeley’s Art Practice program.
Andrew’s artwork explores the violence’s committed against children in the hopes that it will unveil the true realities of childhood experiences and further the conversation for safe environments.