Barrio Youth Corps: Medicine Road

Healing barrio youth through a nontraditional leadership pilgrimage.

La Plazita Institute, Inc.

Our story

Nontraditional Leadership Journey & Pilgrimage: A contemporary sub cultural national educational, spiritual and healing journey where disconnected youth engage with present day healers and visit educational sites with significant spiritual and cultural histories reinforcing La Plazita’s multiple worlds model.

Why it matters?

La Plazita Institute is a nontraditional leadership institute which engages youth and community members in driving social change through traditional and indigenous approaches that improve racial healing, health and economic equity, leadership development, social entrepreneurship, traditional agriculture and cultural restorative justice.

Our initiatives expose the most disconnected and impoverished in becoming active participants in rebuilding their lives through personal development, family engagement, civic engagement and institutional partnerships that will help them navigate “multiple worlds” to a successful future emphasizing equity, empowerment and self-determination.

This project “Medicine Road” will be a transformational learning experience and journey to promote leadership capacities of our barrio youth with intentional engagement in a contemporary sub cultural journey where they will meet with healers and visit historical sites with significant spiritual and cultural histories reinforcing our healing approaches.

Pilgrimage I. Nontraditional Leadership Journey:

A contemporary sub cultural national educational, spiritual and healing journey where disconnected youth engage with present day healers and visit educational sites with significant spiritual and cultural histories reinforcing La Plazita’s multiple worlds model.

Travel Destination & Sites:

Southern California (Los Angeles, Homeboy Industries – Father Greg Boyle; Garfield High School – Stand and Deliver; Tia Chuchas Press – Luis Rodriguez, Author; East LA Neighborhood Historical Sites; Monterey, California – Fisherman’s Warf; William Randolf Hearst Castle)

Northern California (Salinas, California – Migrant Worker Community Activists; Watsonville – The New School; Santa Cruz, California – National Coalition of Barrios Unidos – Nane Alejandrez; Walter Guzman Peace Warrior Retreat Center; San Jose California – Casa de Cultura, Elder Henry Dominguez; San Francisco – Mission District, Studio 24 Cultural Center, Real Alternatives Program “RAP”; Balmy Avenue Mural Project; Chinatown Wildflowers Institute – Dr. Han Min Liu; Bay – Oakland California; Berkeley – Center for Transformative Change, Priestess Angel Kyodo Williams; Black Muslim Bakery; Urban Indian Center – Friendship House)

Central California (San Juan Bautista Teatro Campesino; Keene California – La Plaza, Cesar Chavez Memorial)

Pilgrimage II. Transnational Leadership Journey

A transnational leadership journey to understand the interconnection between Mesoamerican and Native American peoples, the cultural, traditional and spiritual connection beginning at Hopi (with prophesies acknowledging ancient Aztec interface), Chaco Canyon, and the Pueblo of Zuni (acknowledging origin story to Mesoamerica); culminating at Teotihuacan, with its Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of Moon and Temple of Quetzalcoatl.

How will the funds be used?

Funds raised through the HIP Adelante Hermanos campaign will cover most of the expenses associated with travel on this 10 day leadership journey, in which 10 Barrio Youth Corps members and four community leaders/staff will participate together.

Transportation (Rental Van)

Lodging (Housing Accommodations)


Traditional Gifts (Wopila – Offering for Healers & Presenters)

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Stay positive!!



buena suerte y que Dios les bendiga.



Proud of you La Plazita!



Thank you for all that you're doing!



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The team

Albino Garcia Jr.

Albino Garcia is the Founder and Executive Director of La Plazita Institute. He describes himself as a BTDT—“Been There, Done That.” He brings a remarkable range of life and program experience to his role, including consultant, trainer, and program manager for nearly three decades.

In 1990, Garcia founded Rivals in the Redwoods, a gang intervention program out of Salinas, California. In 1992, Garcia created the GANAS, or Gang Alternative North and South. In 1994, Garcia founded the “New School” in Watsonville to give youth a second chance for education in an alternative setting more conductive to their needs. He also has several years of experience as the lead program coordinator at Barrios Unidos in Santa Cruz, California where he initiated school based, community-based and institutional programming. Garcia has served as an education, trainer and community liaison for the Center for Learning and Public Service at the University of New Mexico and as Deputy Director of Training at Youth Development Inc. in New Mexico.

In 1995, he was one of 41 people chosen for the prestigious Kellogg Fellowship, which awarded him $130,000 over three years to make a difference in addressing major social issues in the United States and beyond. As a Fellow, Garcia had the opportunity to travel
extensively, meeting with noted thinkers and leaders including President Jimmy Carter, the Rigoberta Menchu Foundation in Guatemala City, Bishop Samuel Ruiz, the Dalai Lama, Parker Palmer, and others. He visited and participated in forums around civic engagement, leadership, and global issues in Brazil, Turkey, Greece, Peru, Guatemala, Belize, South Africa, Mexico, and cities across the United States.

A committed member of his community, Garcia has participated in numerous networks and professional affiliations including the Latino Network, Violence and Injury Prevention Project, Educational Leadership Institute, Community Action Network, Juvenile Detention Alternatives to Incarceration, Reducing Race and Ethnic Disparities in Detention, Criminal Justice Initiative and National Alliance for Latino Youth Justice. Apache and Chichimeca in origin, Garcia is recognized as an outstanding leader and spiritual activist in Albuquerque. He was recently honored by the Rosebud Tribe in South Dakota. He speaks English and Spanish fluently and has conversational knowledge of Korean.

Joseluis Ortiz

Agricultural Director

Joseluis Ortiz is a land based native New Mexican with roots in traditional agriculture which was passed on generationally through his Pueblo, Mexican Indian, and indo-hispano ancestry. he was born and raised in the traditional Indo-Hispano Communities of Northern New Mexico. At an early age he was exposed to many injustices within his family and his community in regards to classism. Sexism, racism, a fractured education system, drugs and violence, and poverty. Seeking a healthier life he left his native homeland which was drug-ridden, violent and in economic distress and found himself in the Rio Abajo Region in the Middle Rio Grande community of Atrisco. Here he was able to continue and practice his traditional agricultural land based way of life while learning and living amongst the movement community. Throughout his life he has been blessed to have spent time with many of New Mexico’s elders and many leaders and teachers of the land & water, social, and environmental justice movements which helped shape his understanding of life in today’s world. He is grateful to have spent the last 4 years helping to develop a socially sustainable system at Los Jardines Institute and learning alongside other young farmers using land based ways of living and knowing as core values to their lives in community. He values traditions, customs, community, family, food, health, love, music, happiness, expression, history, ceremony, movement and environmental justice. He believes that it is through all of these values that justice and equality are nurtured and cultivated to flourish on the grassroots level. That is why he devotes his life to the land and community.

Theresa Gonzales

Theresa L. Gonzales (BBA, M.S) is Co-Executive Director of La Plazita Institute. Ms. Gonzales has served a decade at the University of New Mexico in various capacities, such as with Engineering Student Services and El Centro de la Raza. She is a current appointed Board of Trustee with the Town of Atrisco Land Grant-Merced. She is also an instructor/part time faculty member in the Health Education Program in the College of Education at UNM where she teaches Social Determinants of Health, Foundations of Health Promotion and Conflict Resolution. She is trained in and has facilitated within the following areas: Anti-Racism, Health Impact Assessment, Grant Writing, Ethics, Critical Health Literacy, Media Literacy, Life Skills, Parenting Education, Kingian Nonviolence, Community Based Research and Nontraditional Leadership. Ms. Gonzales is an interdisciplinary professional, researcher and educator, with extensive program management experience, primarily within the areas of community, health and education. She has worked in various capacities in the community with underserved populations. She has experience in management, administration, leadership and organizational development, social work, case management, evaluation, and for nearly two decades, has been a community advocate, organizer, mentor and mother of 4 children. She has worked 15 years in the nonprofit sector, supporting youth and women with issues such as; homelessness, mental and physical health, substance abuse and incarceration and extensive collaborative work with various social agencies, community organizations, neighborhood associations and coalitions. Her academic and professional background has been leading and supporting initiatives that promote the health and wellbeing of primarily Latino, Native and African American youth, women and families. In addition, provides consulting and technical assistance to various local non-profit, faith based and community organizations in the areas of leadership, administration, program development, public relations, grant writing, organizational development, assessment and evaluation.

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