Existing Project

Youth Over Guns

Luis Hernandez & Andrea Gonzales

New York

Youth Over Guns provides workshops for teens in underserved communities in New York City, that provide advocacy skills, youth empowerment and civic engagement. They strategically pair workshop attendees with trailblazers and gamechangers in their respective fields, based off mutual experiences. With the prize, Luis, Andrea, and friends will expand their workshops to reach more teens in New York City.

Updates from Luis and Andrea

July, 2019
In the last year, we have seen a surge in youth activism around the issue of gun violence after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. Young people from all across the country have joined together to create safer communities and safer environments. Youth Over Guns was born out of that surge to ensure that all young people have a voice in the gun violence prevention movement. We are a youth-led advocacy group formed by students of color. Our founding members include high school and college students from across New York City. As an organization, we demanded that leaders and other stakeholders invest resources into local, grassroots gun violence prevention organizations that work towards reducing gun violence in communities of color. We mobilized and organized and in June of 2018, we marched with thousands of New Yorkers across the Brooklyn Bridge to raise awareness.

I am Andrea Alejandra Gonzales, I am an Indigenous, Queer, Latina advocate and the Director of Operations at Youth Over Guns. I joined shortly after the Youth Over Guns March across the Brooklyn Bridge. However, I have been advocating for marginalized youth and organizing around uplifting our stories since I was 15 after my high school took down my photography project around gender equity and rape culture. I am now 18-years-old, and a rising college sophomore studying Sociology and Black and Latino Studies.

I am Luis Hernandez, a 17 year old rising senior, youth organizer and activist. The Co-Founder and Executive Director of Youth Over Guns. A national organizer with Women’s March Youth Empower, and the National Youth Engagement Coordinator at The Gathering for Justice. I have led major demonstrations like the Youth Over Guns march over the Brooklyn Bridge, #Enough Walkouts across New York State, and many more. After being personally impacted by the effects of the Criminal Justice System, and Gun Violence I have committed to combating all of the injustices that marginalized communities face.

Together, through Youth Over Guns, and with the support of Riley’s Way Foundation -- we are leading a workshop tour throughout underserved communities in New York City. We seek to help young New Yorkers through our mentorship by giving them the tools needed to advocate for themselves and their communities. Our workshops consist of building advocacy skills, empowering youth, getting them civically engaged, while also creating safe spaces and environments to grow. Through a combination of mentorship, support, and advocacy, we have been able to give workshop attendees the foundation to become pillars of their community.

The impact is clear within all of the workshops that we have hosted. Our workshops allow us to connect with young students and create a conversation about advocating for themselves and their community. Language is always a barrier when discussing legislation and activism but through our workshops, we are able to deliver that language and encourage attendees to take that knowledge into other spaces. At Youth Over Guns, we always stress that young people are the experts of their own experiences and lives. In the spirit of that message, we have given workshop attendees the foundation to speak for themselves and make their stories heard.