The RYSE Youth Center was born from tragedy. The center, which first opened its doors in October of 2008, has its roots in a string of homicides near Richmond High School, which prompted student activists to organize vigils and community forums through an anti-violence effort that captured the attention of local elected officials and organizations. With support from a number of West Contra Costa County government entities, RYSE has grown into a vital youth center in the East Bay — one that has stayed true to its origins by supporting youth-led initiatives and artistic projects. Through its racial and social justice programs, education initiatives, and arts and media programming, RYSE has developed innovative ways to promote youth leaders and creative expression. RYSE, which recently merged with local arts group Richmond Artists With Talent (RAW Talent), helps Richmond youth find ways to tell their stories through a range of media, including theater, poetry, filmmaking, and music. For East Bay teens who have faced all kinds of barriers, these opportunities are much deserved — and much needed.