Senate District 6 Unsung Hero
Founder & Executive Director of Youth XPlosion
Mark Jacobs has always invested his spare time in his community and places where he saw a need. But in 2006, he decided it was time to do something big: he founded an organization meant to strengthen families for the benefit of kids.
Mark founded "Youth XPlosion" or "YXP" and through a network of volunteers and partner organizations, it provides help to young people and families in Oak Park and Del Paso Heights in three key areas: life and workforce skills, nutrition/health, literacy and physical activity.
Mark figured that by focusing on those four important areas of need for individual kids and families, entire communities can be strengthened.
While Mark is quick to emphasize the collaborative effort of so many people that give their time and energy to make YXP a success, Mark is constantly in motion to create positive and lasting change in our community.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I am married to Shena Jacobs who is a special part of my life and the main supporter in my community engagement activities. I am also a proud father to four daughters Briana, Katrice, Trache and Taylor. I am also a grandfather to two handsome grandsons, Lorenzo at one month and Darren at three years old. I founded Youth XPlosion in March 2006 and I am a member of several community organizations, including the National Association of Black Veterans, the one term President and six year former board member of the Sacramento County Chapter of the African American Caucus and I'm the Vice President of the Harold Washington Democratic Club as well as an Associate Member of 'BAPAC', the Black American Political Association of California. I've been a resident of Antelope for the past 20 years. Prior to this I lived in the Natomas area for two years. The majority of my early years were spent in the Bay Area.
What does the name "Youth XPlosion" mean?
Youth Explosion! The emergence of you and the youth in heart. Also known as YXPunite.
Why have you decided to focus your energy on youth and families?
That is an interesting question. On the surface, our youth are the future! If we want to see a better future for all, we need to better prepare our youth. On a deeper level, our youth live at home with families. This is their most influential environment and where our focus needs to be.
If we engage youth without including the entire family, we've poured water into a container with holes. The youth need reinforcement from their parents which is why we have parent engagement activities so the youth can witness their parents' experience of empowerment sparking the desire to become empowered. If the problem is the home, it is critical to engage the ones in that home - the child's most sacred environment.
What inspires your community efforts?
Proving to the youth and their families that hope is not only real, but if transformed into action, success is attainable.
What do you tell a young person who may be having a rough time and struggling in school or at home?
First of all, I give them access to us. I want them to know they will always have someone to call. If he/she is struggling with school work, we have tutors that can help. For other situations, I would tell a young person that life is not easy, but rather an opportunity to learn. Once we conquer a situation, we then have the skills to help someone going through a similar situation. A rough time is an opportunity for one to become better, stronger and wiser. We also have referral services to get sufficient help for specific issues.
Why is the work important to you?
YXP has always been a 'Ministry' to me. It is what my spiritual father has allowed and trusted me to do. The youth are watching all that we say and do. I want them to grow up seeing the actions of YXP as one of the reasons to 'Be the Change They Want to see'. And finally, I want to extend this concept to all people with ideas and ambitions to make our communities stronger.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
The collection of awesome volunteers who share the YXP vision through their own lens. Because of them, we have an impressive presence in north and south Sacramento with the potential of infinite expansion. I am also pleased at the way we take on diet and nutrition for all ages through the support of the Imani Clinic, UC Davis and other health conscious team members.
What have you struggled most with in your life?
Finding ways to give back. I've never been satisfied with helping only me. I've always wanted my milestones to be a shared effort with others. If they make it, I make it. If they fail, I will be there to help them or I will fail as well.
What lessons do you work to instill in the kids you work with?
Never quit or give up! You are capable of great things! Respect your elders, especially your parents. Stay in school and say no to drugs.
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
The division within the community is an issue at the top of my list. If there is unity throughout the families and business in the community there would be no time nor tolerance for: drug/alcohol abuse, unemployment, senseless homicides, hunger, lack of adequate housing and healthcare, crimes against youth, domestic violence, etc.