Tag Archives: Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Skate Crew


Our Los Angeles program has a real skate crew. With our expansion into a new schools, we picked up a few more Stokers who are skaters. The best part of it is that they really rip. There’s a benefit to having a skate crew and it’s beyond just landing tricks and having fun with new friends. The purpose and the goal of our skateboard program is to increase social skills, communication skills, and positive social habits. The added benefit of a city like Los Angeles is that skateboarding literally is a mode of transportation for our students and definitely the most eco-friendly program we ever had.


Peer Mentoring


Our students come from all schools, different neighborhoods, and backgrounds. They all join STOKED because they’re looking for new experiences and new friends. Little do they know that they get much more. In this skate program, they’ve taken to teaching each other how to skate, asking each other for advice, and supporting one another in their goals. We know from our experience that skateboarding is inherently mentoring based, but it’s exciting to see play out with our program growth.

New Environments & Experiences


Los Angeles is geographically isolated. Our students live on the east side of Los Angeles (Downtown LA, South Central, and McArthur Park) but the beach and skateparks are on the west side (Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu). Our students rarely have the chance to leave their neighborhood, meet different people, and experience new things. We take the city bus to Santa Monica for less than $2 per student. The students hang out with positive mentors who are role models. They skate for hours on end. A group of Stokers even carry a boombox in a backpack while skating to provide entertainment. They skate along the beach and look at the ocean. It sounds simple and unglamorous but for our students this is heaven.


Physical Exercise

There’s no better exercise than skating from Santa Monica Pier to Venice Pier. There are some days during the skate mentoring program that students skate up to 10 miles. We’ve seen some great benefits from all this physical exercise in our students. Students have become better skaters, more focused in school, weight loss, and improve their cardiovascular health. We love skateboarding for all those benefits and that’s why we’re planning more programs in both our program cities.

STOKED Igniter Miki Reynolds in a Saucony Campaign

MIki Reynolds

Every now and then, we get some incredible opportunities that not only benefit our youth or organization, but also our mentors and supporters. We’ve said it time and time again, STOKED is a community. We wouldn’t exist without the support of our adult supporters. So when running sneaker company Saucony through their agency, Mechanica USA and their Creative Director Libby DeLana wanted to feature STOKED in their #findyourstrong campaign, Miki came to mind.

Miki joined STOKED is 2008 and was matched with Karen, a young shy teenager near downtown Los Angeles. Miki dove head first into our community. Surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding. Spending time with Karen, mentoring not just her, but all the students in the program. I think what’s amazing is that like the students in STOKED, Miki, took a lot away from our programs and starting applying the life lessons from our STOKED circles to her life. So it was no surprise that Miki started running marathons. In 2011, she ran the LA Marathon on behalf of STOKED, raised a bunch of money for us and had to endure one of the most challenging experiences in her life. Although Miki, isn’t actively mentoring anymore, she continues to support STOKED as one of our Board of Stokers in Los Angeles and is a STOKED Igniter. We’re proud of you Miki and thank you for your 5 years of service to our mission.


Stoked Steve visits SoCal

Welcome Back Steve
A note from some Stokers.

How often do I visit our West Coast office? That’s a common question I get when people find out that STOKED has a Los Angeles office. The short answer is every 3 months. It used to be more frequent than that before I was married and had my son. The long answer is that I normally coincide my visits with an action sports industry event like the US Open of Surfing or the X Games, at least during the winter season to visit Snow Summit, or right before the holidays to meet with donors, supporters, and volunteers. The Los Angeles office has been going through some transition in the past few months so I was due for a visit. Also, I was asked to speak at a conference on Authenticity at the ASC Action Sports + Culture Conference. As opposed to previous trips where I spent most of my time in LA, I stayed in Long Beach courtesy of Group Y who was able to donate a hotel room to me so I could network and connect with various supporters who were in town for the US Open of Surfing and the Agenda Show. Below are pictures of the various people I saw on my visit. It was so good to see long time supporters and meet new ones.

Me unveiling my theory of change on the opportunity gap at the Action Sports + Culture Conference
Me unveiling my theory of change on the opportunity gap at the Action Sports + Culture Conference


STOKED Award winner Joy Bryant and her husband. She's been a supporter for 7 years!
STOKED Award winner Joy Bryant and her husband Dave. She’s been a supporter for 7 years.


Kat & Stance
Dinner with Stoked Kat & Advisory Board member Constance.


Miki long time supporter and Board of Stoker LA
Miki a long time supporter, volunteer, and new Board of Stoker.


Vina founder of skateboard non profit Next Up Foundation. What a great human.
Vina founder of skateboard non profit Next Up Foundation. What a great human.


Me with X Games announcer and ESPN writer Alyssa Roenigk
Me with X Games announcer and ESPN writer Alyssa Roenigk


Jason Brown from Red Bull.
Jason Brown from Red Bull.


Danny Kass pro snowboarder
Danny Kass pro snowboarder


Incredible supporter and STOKED Igniter Mark Sperling from groupY
Incredible supporter and STOKED Igniter Mark Sperling from Group Y.


Jim Sparks from Salvation Army
Jim Sparks from Salvation Army


Caught up with the Bealeys. They used to live in Brooklyn but now live in CA. Dan is a Stoked Award winner.
Spent time with the Bealeys (Dan, Allison, and their son Rowan). They used to live in Brooklyn but now live in CA. Dan is a Stoked Award winner.


Spent time with the Drubners (Jonathan, Jennifer, and their son Ozzy). Jonathan is a Stoked Award Winner
Spent time with the Drubners (Jonathan, Jennifer, and their son Ozzy). Jonathan is a Stoked Award Winner.


Bye LA! Until next time.
Bye Los Angeles! Until next time.

Why The Future Belongs To You(th)


You know the song that just does it for you? It speaks to you. Maybe it’s the beat or a lyric that strikes a cord.

It gives you goosebumps. The song defines a moment. Your moment. Your history. Your life, both present and future. 

This is a strange comparison, but that is I how I felt when I met the young gentlemen in the picture.

You see, this group of guys is a small group of students in our STOKED Los Angeles program. They’ve committed to STOKED by participating in our afterschool and weekend mentoring programs.

I visit Los Angeles about every three months, so when I get into town I’m pretty focused on meeting with staff, donors, supporters and doing my best to soak up as much energy from the kids as possible. 

It was the end of the Trishredathon. It was an emotional day. Two students were injured and I had spent part of the day in the hospital with them. We pulled off a challenging event and got almost 70 people to snowboard, surf, and skateboard in one day while simultaneously raising over $20,000 for Los Angeles.


We arrived back at HQ and as the kids were packing up to leave, I see a few students giving each other a weird handshake. My interest perks up. Are there gang kids in STOKED? Our neighborhood in LA has the highest concentration of gangs in Los Angeles, so this thought wasn’t absurd.

I asked, “What’s going on?” One of the students replies, “It’s a secret handshake.” I replied, “For what? You guys in a gang?” Another student chuckles, puts his head down and says, “No, it’s our crew.”

“What kind of crew?” I ask.

Another responds, “We push each other in school, sports, and life. We’re The Wolf Pack!”

This was my ‘I must have this song’ moment. I wanted to learn more. I told the kids to meet me at the office the next day so we could talk.

So at the end of the following day, Stoked Kat, Stoked Charlie, and I sat with the kids and asked questions and listened to what they had to say. 

I learned that these students don’t have the fears of your average youth. They fear failure in school. They fear being overcome by negativity. They fear becoming a statistic. Their fears are substantiated by the fact that there are over 30 gangs in the neighborhood. Being jumped by a gang is a very real chance every day. It has nearly happened to them within a few blocks of the STOKED office.

Wolfpack Selfie

The Wolf Pack started when one of the members was watching National Geographic Channel and saw how wolves take care of each other. He thought it would be a good name to use to form a crew and to combat the negativity in the neighborhood.

Not anyone can join The Wolf Pack. They recruit you. They have a strict code of 1) No alcohol or drugs, 2) Must be positive & respectful, 3) Have fun, and 4) Be healthy & exercise.

The members of The Wolf Pack all play sports and work out everyday. In fact when I first met them, as one of the members was leaving another member said, “TNDO” – which means “Take No Days Off.”

I asked them what more can STOKED do for them and they said that we give them a safe place to go after school, opportunities to expand their horizons, the chance to meet positive adults, and they are learning life lessons that they wouldn’t get in school.

For all intents and purposes, we’re doing what we set out to do. It was why we started STOKED. Give students who want a chance to succeed an opportunity to succeed.

However, I think we failed in one aspect. We didn’t provide enough peer mentoring. These young mavericks saw that they needed something that their home, community, school, and STOKED didn’t provide. They took it in their own hands and are using STOKED along with their organic and homegrown crew to uplift them out of their current surroundings. They are creating their future with motivation, support, and friendship.

As one Wolf Pack member says, “It’s working. Our grades are improving, too.” They’re tutoring each other. So I did what any entrepreneur would do and asked them if we can take the concept and grow it. They seemed OK with the idea, but they’re going to keep their core crew and slowly add members as they see fit.

For me, the lesson is that if you want to accomplish anything in life and you want to change your current circumstances, you form a mastermind or get a mentor. The only exception is that it took a group of 16 year olds to remind me of that.

Thank you, Wolf Pack. TNDO. 

New Bindings, New Beginnings

STOKED youth throwin' up the S sign!

Last Sunday, STOKED Los Angeles embarked on its 7th trip to Snow Summit which is celebrating its 60th Anniversary.  STOKED Los Angeles plans to take 6 trips to Snow Summit this year, the most snow trips we’ve taken since 2009!

STOKED Youth and Mentor

First week of the year started off with a blast. We had a record setting full bus with 41 teens and 15 adults for a total of 56 Stokers! Making the very first Snow Mentor of the season a success is a big task. It takes a village to take 41 teenagers snowboarding. Flow Sports donated 20 pairs of bindings, which were much needed.  Restaurant Depot donated a membership to STOKED to help keep food costs down. Chefs Jeff Thomas and Daniella Lafkas labored for over 3 days preparing breakfast, lunch, and dessert. 13 STOKED Volunteers arrived at 5:30am on Sunday to work with our youth, 24 of whom have never been snowboarding before. We were all welcomed by the friendliest mountain staff, rental house and lesson staff. Plus! STOKED Los Angeles even had a special guest, Eric Balfour of Born of Ghosts, 24, & Haven.

Eric Balfour with STOKED Youth waiting to shredSTOKED Los Angeles youth had a great time. We spent the day talking about one of our core values, determination and overcoming obstacles.  The youth learned to say “do” versus “try”, “can” instead of “can’t” and “will” instead of “maybe” or “hopefully”.  All showed amazing perseverance and determination.  Most of the youth spent the day on the bunny hill working on falling leaf with the goal of connecting an S-turn.  Here are a few quotes from the youth about there first Snow Trip of 2013:

Deborah F., 16: I snowboarded through clouds today with my STOKED people, from the top of snow summit to the bottom.

Ericka H., 14: Hi my name is Ericka , I’m a Stoker, and I NEVER regret joining STOKED.

Natalie M. 16: At first I wanted to give up so badly but each time I fell I got right back up. Thanks for the motivation you guys!

Snow Mentor LA 2013 #1 STOKED Sign Photo

A huge thank you to all of our supporters, Flow Bindings, the chefs, and Snow Summit who helped make the first Snow Mentor of the season a great success. And a special thanks to the local high schools, Roybal High, Miguel Contreras Learning Center and Belmont High for allowing us to work with their amazing teens. Snow Mentor Los Angeles 2013 is off to an awesome start!

For more photos from that day and other STOKED programs, click here

Do More Than Get a Tax Refund

“It was an amazing feeling going up the mountain. As I was making my way down for the first time, STOKED helped me believe that I couldn’t give up. I’ve applied those lessons from snowboarding to life, I never give up on what I’ve set my mind on. I see it through to the end no matter what.”  – Alexandra Parache, STOKED Alumna, 2012 Mentee of the Year, University of Rochester Class of 2013

You can do more than get a tax refund by the end of today. You can help a young student succeed in life.

Alexandra was 16 in this picture. Now she’s 21 and set to graduate from college in May. The picture was from her first time snowboarding. Although it’s the end of the year, it’s the beginning of our 8th snowboard season. During the snowboarding program, students like Alexandra learn to set goals, become confident, create a vision for their future and be inspired by positive adult mentors.

It costs $100 to take a student snowboarding for 1 day. This includes food, lift ticket, transportation and equipment. We have many students in our after school program that need a jump start this winter. Click on the donate button to empower a student from a low-income community with the experience and thrill of snowboarding.



We wouldn’t be here without the support of people like you. From everyone at STOKED, have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Surf Mentor 2012 Scores a 100% with Youth

Photo by Debbie Miracolo

Surf Mentor is our summer program for inner city kids in Los Angeles and New York. We make trips to local beaches in both of those cities, and teach those youth how to surf while also mentoring them in life skills.

Here’s a look at what went down this summer across the coasts.

  • Los Angeles – 30 adult volunteers mentored 27 kids
  • New York City – 51 adult volunteers mentored 53 kids

100% of the 78 youth who went through our program this summer reported feeling safe when they are at STOKED programs*! We’re proud of that stat., because above all, we value the safety and well-being of the youth we serve. *Program Managers STOKED Charlie and STOKED Sophia polled youth participants at the end of the summer, and here are some results from that survey.

Hear what kids who went through the program had to say about it.

Los Angeles Testimonials

  • STOKED is a gnarly program that inspires me every time I step in the HQ. — Perla S., 16
  • Because of STOKED, I have more knowledge about relationships with other people, that being committed to something will always bring something good, and always be on time and ready for the unexpected. — Bruno R., 19

New York Testimonials

  • Before I joined stoked I would never have thought i would be snowboarding down a mountain, or skateboarding down a hill or standing up on a surfboard (even though that was always a secret dream of mine), so I showed me that the opportunities are out there, you just need to learn how to look. — Christine J, 16
  • I loved Surf Mentor. I am so happy and proud that I was given the opportunity to learn how to surf and to have met the great friends and mentor over the summer. STOKED has been a really exciting program for me, it has given me the opportunity to explore things that I never thought I would be able to. — Leon, 16

To everyone involved who made this season possible; our sponsors, volunteers, and of course, the ocean itself, THANK YOU!




What do Youth from the East + West Coasts Have in Common?

HOLA youth with STOKED youth outside 10 Jay Street.
A lot!
We are more alike than we believe and we got to witness that firsthand this past Friday as we hosted a group of teens from the Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) program at our New York office. 
HOLA is a non-profit that has been working with under-served youth in Los Angeles for more than 20 years. They provide kids ages 6-19 with programs in academics, arts and athletics. They were also STOKED’s first partner in Los Angeles, so we were super excited to host them.
For our visitors, it was their first time in New York and for some it was their first experience traveling outside of Los Angeles!
Talks and intros at Stoked New York HQ.
We compared lingo across the coasts–tight vs. dank–and both groups got excited as they saw similarities and joked about some of the differences in speech.
HOLA kids taught us an interactive icebreaker game called “All my peeps,”and after a couple of hilarious rounds the camaraderie was solid.
We finished off the day with a whispered version of the STOKED circle.
Overall the kids were happy they got to meet each other and to know that they aren’t alone in their struggles. Getting the HOLA and STOKED NY kids together was a great opportunity for them to see how similar kids can be regardless of how far they live and where they come from.
Thanks to Zaidy and Alexandra, our rockstar Summer Associates, for creating this blog post.
P.S. Meet Zaidy tomorrow on the blog…

A Breath of Fresh Air

Marito a STOKED Los Angeles youth visits NYC

Sometimes the routine of life can be monotonous. Eat, sleep, work, eat, go home. 

Luckily some of us have the means and opportunity to jet out of town and visit different cities. You come back energized and the change of pace adds more perspective to your life. 

You got a breath of fresh air. 

What about the young person who’s never left their neighborhood, their city, or this country?

The few miles between home, school, and the occasional visit to a relative on the other side of town often defines their world. 

It dawned on me… STOKED is literally expanding the geographical boundaries of students by taking them to different locations in our programs. Then I thought about it a bit more.

The students in STOKED for more than 2 years tend to take opportunities to travel. 

They are often the ones who choose to go away to college and end up joining programs that enable them to visit places such as Ghana, Japan, or Italy! 

So it was no surprise that Marito, a 17 year old Los Angeles Stoker ended up in NYC for a few days.

Fresh off a 10 month youth exchange program in Turkey (he was 16 at the time), Marito needed a place to stay for a few days in New York. I hooked him up with long time STOKED supporters Dan & Allison Bealey who live in Brooklyn.

Quick side note: Dan is our longest active volunteer and was the 2009 Volunteer of the Year.

Marito’s brother Kevin is a Stoked Alumn. When Kevin went off to college, Marito jumped right into the STOKED community as a freshman in high school.

He got a mentor, snowboarded, skated and surfed and even made a magazine with STOKED and Nike one summer. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.

He is set to graduate high school this next year and go to college. 

Check out pictures of him in NYC. A very big thank you to Dan and Allison for opening their home and looking after Marito for 4 days! 

Marito on his 30 mile bike ride day to Coney Island


Marito at the Brooklyn Bridge


Marito Staten Island Ferry
Marito on the Staten Island Ferry


Marito with Dan and Allison Bealey at dinner on his last night in NYC.

SURF Mentor – Remembering your first wave

Think of a girl who grows up with few options in the summer.

She has no summer camps, family vacations, or a summer job.

Instead she has a hot one bedroom apartment shared with her mom and two brothers, with only the city streets to wander.

Now imagine that same girl spending her summer on the beach and surfing for the first time with STOKED, having the best summer of her life.

And think of what it’s like for her when she catches her first wave.

The feeling of conquering something that seemed so impossible only days, or even minutes before.

SURF Mentor is starting its 7th year this Saturday, July 7 in NYC and later this month in Los Angeles.

We’ll be sending a series of stories this summer to show you our amazing teens doing the impossible, overcoming their fears, and becoming successful. 

Our SURF Mentor series will:

  • entertain & inspire
  • tell you how to get involved
  • be the best thing to hit your inbox this summer!

Sign up for the series. You won’t regret it!


* required


Email Marketing by VerticalResponse

Previous emails:


Check out this video from our first SURF mentor way back in 2005.