The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions (AIFCS) is lucky to partner with movers and shakers from communities scattered across the country. Freda Crichton, a leader in our opportunity youth work, is one such person in Seattle/South King County.
“Between her job at King County, her position on the Road Map Project’s Community Leadership Team, and her active participation in the local Pacific Islander community, she has given back more to her community as a young adult than many of us ever will in a lifetime,” said Nicole Yohalem of the Road Map Project who has worked with Freda for four years. “Freda is an incredible leader.”
Freda grew up in the White Center neighborhood of Seattle and graduated from Year Up Puget Sound, a one-year, intensive training program for young adults ages 18-24. She then studied at Seattle Central College and spent a year with AmeriCorps working with high school students as a success coach.
Freda now works at Reconnect to Opportunity in King County, Wash., where she connects opportunity youth, who are 16-24-year-olds who have dropped out of school or are in danger of dropping out, to an education program as well as helping them find employment. She said her focus there is to increase graduation rates. A former opportunity youth, Freda also has been a member of the youth advisory group, King County Youth Advisory Council, from its inception in 2014 which is an initiative supported by AIFCS.
In addition to all that she has done for her community, Freda also is a mother, martial artist, and can sing in Vietnamese.
“I look for opportunities to attend community events or discussions, and I enjoy taking my daughter with me so she can see the beauty in the diversity of our world today,” Freda says. “I want people to know that our communities are so much more than its reputation. Some might only see a lack of development while others see a home. A place where children of all different cultures and backgrounds play together on the same street.”
Freda believes graduating high school on time was a “game changer” for her.
“With all the tragedy that was happening in my life at the time, I should have dropped out,” she says. “If I had listened to the voices that told me I would not make it, I don’t know who or where I would be.”
Freda also credits her martial arts instructor Minh Huynh, and Marine Corps recruiter Ronald Rorie, for having a big impact in her life. In terms of the work that she does, Freda is often times grappling with this idea of equity. So what does it mean for her?
“Equity is fairness for all,” she says. “It is knowing that there is not one size fits all. Everyone has different needs and have to be met where they are at.”
Read more about the Road Map Project’s work with opportunity youth here: http://www.roadmapproject.org/collective-action/project-hub/opportunity-youth/