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USD School of Law applauds its Young Attorney honoree

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The University of San Diego School of Law warmly congratulates Kriste Draper for being recognized as one of top 2010 Young Attorneys by The Daily Transcript. Draper, who directs the Homeless Youth Outreach Project (HYOP) at USD School of Law's Children's Advocacy Institute (CAI), began helping homeless youth at age 17 when she worked as an outreach counselor for Stand Up For Kids, providing food, clothing and mentoring to youth on the streets. After graduating from USD School of Law in 2006, Draper started HYOP as an Equal Justice Works Fellowship project. In her work with HYOP, Draper provides legal services and advocacy for San Diego County's homeless youth, helping to bridge the gap of access to available resources, housing, government agencies, courts, schools and other vital resources and services.

Draper holds weekly legal clinics at the Stand Up For Kids Outreach Center in downtown San Diego and partners with more than 15 different agencies that serve homeless youth throughout San Diego County. In addition to providing information, referrals and general assistance to hundreds of homeless youth each year, she represents a smaller number of youth in their individual legal and advocacy matters involving access to education, housing, health insurance and health care, mental health treatment, government benefits, etc.

These youth are not your typical clients -- they have extremely important basic needs that must be addressed in order for Draper's legal advocacy to be successful. Whether it's buying a young person breakfast prior to a court appearance, getting a trolley pass so a youth can get to an interview or securing a birth certificate so that a client can get enrolled in school or get a job, Draper's commitment to these youth goes far beyond the four walls of a courtroom.

In her work at HYOP, Draper has helped expand San Diego's Homeless Court Program to include homeless youth and their service providers in its proceedings. She works tirelessly to inform and educate our courts, schools, service providers and the public about the growing number of homeless youth and the unique needs of this specific population; create community awareness of issues commonly faced by homeless youth; and stimulate grassroots efforts to change the way society views and addresses youth homelessness. Having first-hand knowledge of the issues and barriers these youth face, Draper also advocates for systemic change by participating in CAI's state and federal legislative and regulatory advocacy and impact litigation.

USD School of Law would also like to recognize and thank some of the funders who support Draper's work, such as Sony Electronics Inc. (NYSE: SNE); the San Diego County Bar Foundation; the Simon-Strauss Foundation; Campland on the Bay; and the McCarthy Family Foundation, to name a few. With their generous support, Draper is able to serve the legal needs of homeless youth, and in so doing, help them get off the streets and get on with their lives.

Submitted by University of San Diego School of Law

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