Each year, John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) issues over a dozen policy reports and research briefs: we’re committed to getting the facts right.
But what brings this research to life is our 11 youth advocates, who share their direct, lived experience to inform decision makers. This powerful recipe works: it has resulted in 52 major reforms for youth who have been in foster care or homeless.
Today, one of JBAY’s Youth Advocates is continuing his fight to improve the lives of children and youth by running for a seat on the Stockton Unified School Board in this November’s election: Xavier Mountain.
Xavier learned to be resilient through adversity. He entered foster care as an infant and was adopted at age two. Sadly, he battled years of mental and physical abuse and as a teenager, re-entered foster care and attended multiple high schools.
At the age of 18, Xavier was officially on his own, attending San Joaquin Delta College. He struggled academically in his first year and lost his financial aid and scholarship.
During this time, JBAY helped him get back on his feet through the Burton Book Fund. He regained the motivation to succeed in his classes and completed his Associate’s degree. “It’s those small differences in a person’s life that can change everything.”
Xavier went on to complete his Bachelor’s degree at the University of the Pacific and Master’s degree at the University of Southern California. While he was finishing his undergraduate degree, Xavier became active with JBAY, using his voice to expand access to financial aid and increase state investment in safe, affordable housing.
JBAY Executive Director Amy Lemley worked side-by-side with Xavier and has seen his commitment first-hand. “He has every reason to be cynical: adults who should have cared for him didn’t and public systems that were designed to help him failed. But Xavier refuses to give up. Instead, he is serving the public as a planning commissioner and working to improve public education as a school board member. He is a true inspiration.”
In addition to being a planning commissioner, Xavier is a therapist, a father and an entrepreneur. “I am a living testament that anything is possible,” he says.