A White House Summit in Oakland? Absolutely!
Twenty five EOYDC participants ranging from high to graduate school anxiously attended this informative and exciting event. They marched in like business men ready to take on Wall Street. Shakir Carminer said, it was exciting to see that people care about our success. Held at Laney College the students listened to empowering messages from Laney President, Dr. Elnora Webb, David Johns, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and a host of professors, teachers and community leaders.
Throughout the summit, students tweeted and instagramed observations and prophetic statements that inspired them. They met Charles Woodson, former Oakland Raider who encouraged their academic success. During lunch, the group split between students and professionals, this is where EOYDC youth leaders went into action sharing their recipes for academic success with other students during the workshop. The summit was not only beneficial to youth but also provided important insight for parents and teachers on how to engage, qualitatively connect, establish trust with and lead African American males. The staggering statistics of student failure were daunting to the students. It underscored how serious the educational crisis is. Miles Lawrence said, “I hope more events like this come to Oakland because our African American community needs help”.
Major work is being done in Oakland. We see concerted efforts dedicated to the academic and social leadership development of African American youth through the African American Male Initiative(AAMA) at Oakland Unified School District. Held up as a White House program model, AAMA and many other place based projects are digging deep to understand the academic and social challenges our youth face. This tremendous work continues to identity and propose tactics to ameliorate the unjust treatment they receive in school. Statistics reveal that African American males are suspended, detained and criminalized more than twice the rate of other races. We do however recognize that our Latino population is not far behind when it comes to underachievement both academically and socially. Hence the tremendous importance of work nationwide on Men and Boys of Color work in general.
Recognizing the important implications of AAMA’s leadership and purpose, EOYDC partnered to produce the 2014 delegation for “Think China” global exchange. In support of two Presidential Initiatives, 100,000 strong and My Brother’s Keeper, EOYDC took 14 African American males on this educational and cultural journey. Realizing that our cascading mentoring model has been an important factor to our linked learning objectives, we selected college mentors majoring in STEM in order to support the uniquely different curriculum this summer. Hosted by the China US Exchange Foundation, we attended lectures on the Beijing Foreign Studies and Hangzhou Polytechnic University campuses. Through the additional community development and mentoring circle curriculum that EOYDC presented, we dug deep into the psyche of the students. We worked on personal values, triggers and other cultural awareness discussions in order to lift the important nuggets of knowledge that would resonate both individually and collectively. The students would later select the following pillars as most important to their work on this exchange: Community. Accountability, Leadership, and Loyalty.
Stephanie Fong, a student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program, is conducting her master’s thesis dubbed “The Portrait Project” in collaboration with the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC). Using self portrait photography, interviews, and group discussions, the study seeks to understand how young men of color describe their identity and what influences, both positively and negatively, the way they see themselves. Further, what impact does the way young people see themselves have on their decision-making, mental health, and resiliency? We are excited to see what the data will reveal.
One of our youth leaders proposed an Assembly Bill to conduct public awareness campaigns to educate youth about the punitive measures that await youth as consequences of bad behavior. While Assembly Bill 2565 did not pass in 2012 under Assemblymember Sandre’ Swanson, we hope to revisit it in the future. It is important for our youth to know the consequences of their behavior and provide training to curb impulse control.
Hello my name is Andrew Morris. I am currently attending CSU Northridge after spending two previous years at Howard University. I am a Psychology major and plan on becoming a social worker for foster children in Oakland.
I first came to the EOYDC in 2010 in my sophomore year of high school. After passing the colorful building probably hundreds of times, I finally came in when a friend of mine wanted me to come with her to sign up for a summer job. After signing up I worked that first summer, I’ve held positions from Youth Leader, to instructor all the way up to Assistant Director and have been going back every summer since. Kids are a passion of mine and it’s always a joy to bring smiles to kids’ faces and leave them with long lasting memories every summer.
I’ve participated in the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program(SCEP) and Pathway to College and Career Program every year. In 2011, I was provided with the opportunity to go on a college tour to Washington D.C. To this day, the time spent on that college tour is my favorite memory at the EOYDC. It was my first time on a plane and first time leaving the State of California. The EOYDC has taught me a lot about myself and has helped me grow as a leader. There’s always opportunities to prove yourself and I can honestly say I am where I am today because of Ms. Regina and the East Oakland Youth Development Center.
For me, going to EOYDC was a place just to have fun and play basketball. I used to visit the center from time to time when I was younger and I really started going consistently in 2010 when I started going to Community College. After just being around the center and play basketball every day I was starting to be introduced to some of the programs that they had that could help me find my way through college. After school hours I would come to the center and utilize some of the programs that they had. When it came to finding a job they helped me fill out job application,s as well as, get me prepared on what to do, say and how to act during an interview.
I also was able to complete community service opportunities at the center and learned how to communicate with people when it came to finding service opportunities. After I was done obtaining my AA degree, I didn’t know where I wanted to go and I wasn’t sure on what I should have picked as my major. Talking to the advisors, the other powerful men, and going to the Pathway to College and Career program. I was able to get good advice on where to go to school (Texas Southern University). Not only that but, they also gave me advice on what to look out for when going to a big university and what to expect.
Given the circumstances that I was going through it was tough to get everything aligned right so I could go off to school, but the center helped me get it together so I would be prepared for the college world. Not only did they mentor me, but now given the knowledge and experiences that I’ve had, I can now mentor the ones who are younger than me trying to go the same route. EOYDC is more than a youth center; it’s a family who is in it for my best interest. During the past years I have seen myself and those around me grow into better men and women. The youth center has given me a solid upbringing through my schooling, knowledge, wisdom, learning, and life experience.
Today, I am a senior at Texas Southern University planning on obtaining my Bachelors in Business Management. After that, I plan on getting my Masters in Business Administration. When I come back to the center, in Brotherhood Across America meetings, I give guidance and advice to the youth who are inspired to go in the same direction that I chose to go with my higher education. Not only that but I get to be around older men who have graduated and can give me guidance on who to connect with and what steps to take when trying to apply for a career. They give me guidance that I really cannot get anywhere else because they are men like me who have been in my position, inside school and outside of school. For the other brothers that are my age doing the same thing, we can share and compare our college experiences together as well as give each other advice and tips when it comes to school, financial management, time management, programs around our schools, networking, and life. I am thankful for the family at the youth center and it is a blessing to be a part of something that I can get a lot out of.
I first discovered EOYDC when I was 8 years old. My mom brought my brother and I to EOYDC for the annual youth led summer program. The Summer Cultural Enrichment Program or SCEP for short was a summer program for the youth but it was lead entirely by youth themselves. The only adults involved with SCEP are the adults already on staff year round. SCEP is great because it puts young people in leadership roles early which has a positive impact as they get older. At a young age I understood the concept of reach forward and reach back, a principle that lives in the very heart of EOYDC.
Because of my extensive involvement with the summer program I had the ability to learn from great youth leaders, particularly the African American male leaders who I aspired to be like. In the heart of East Oakland, EOYDC is an oasis to the youth in the killer corridor of Oakland, California. When I was 14, I found enough courage to apply to become a youth leader and to my amazement I got the job, my very first job. It turned out that I loved working with kids, it only got better as I came back year after year and more kids knew my name. Not only that but I started to notice that the kids are starting to grow up, that 6 year old I knew my first year celebrated his 12th birthday this summer. EOYDC is the only job in the world, where the work actually starts to grow on you.
After my 3 years of being a youth leader I decided to interview for a higher and more appealing position during the summer program, the gym instructor. I wanted to be gym instructor because of my love for sports and the fact that it was my favorite class when I was child in the program. On the day of my interview I was coming home with my mom and found 3 men breaking into my house. I was able to chase them away, thankfully without any harm to my mother or myself. I have never felt that way before in my life, the feeling of being violated just fueled my anger even more
I attended my instructor interview 30 minutes after the incident, I was able to clear my mind from everything and perform to the best of my abilities. I felt nothing but pure joy when I was informed that i earned the position I wanted. I learned a lot about myself that day and the plethora of resilience that I have inside of me, that was truly a test. And I passed. I would like to thank my intruders for turning me into a stronger and more powerful African American Male. You motivate me every day to better myself and to NOT be like you.
During my sophomore year in high school I had the opportunity to leave the state for the first time and fly to New York on a 5 day college tour through Pathway to College. During the tour I explored much of New York which I absolutely loved. My youth leader when I was young was also there to greet me. She was on domestic exchange at NYU. She showed us her dorm room and talked about her experiences in college. Everything from the Brooklyn Bridge, Donna Karan’s Office, NBA Marketing headquarters was amazing. I even saw where Malcolm X gave his last speech. My New York college tour included Columbia University and New York University. Traveling outside California made me realize how much is really out there for me to see and experience.
This summer I had the privilege of being the visual communication director for the second year in the row. This year I really tried to do something different, so instead of creating a regular paperback yearbook I was able to create an online yearbook that can be used as a lifelong photo library for every EOYDC event. I also had the responsibility of managing the social media accounts for EOYDC as a group from the center went on a 2 week journey throughout China.
I truly thank EOYDC and Ms. Regina for serving as a launching pad for my success into the space of the unknown world. I have no idea what the future holds but I feel like I can accomplish anything with a little hard work and a great attitude. I was surrounded by not only great young mentors but wonderful staff members who watched me grow from a child to a young man.
My name is Caleb Smith and I’m a Junior Politics Major at the University of San Francisco. This year I am currently working as a University Ambassador giving tours to prospective students. I hold 3 officer positions in my fraternity, Phi Delta Theta: Philanthropy Chair, Community Service Chair, and Chaplain. I am also the Public Relations Executive for Brother Connection, a club on campus for men of color to meet, discuss politics, host social events, and serve the San Francisco community. This semester I am taking a course called Gender and Politics which has a service learning component. I have chosen to work with a non-profit organization called Generation Citizen that has provided a curriculum for me to teach a Civics class to high school seniors at John O’Connell High School in the Mission. As the semester progresses, it will be my responsibility to guide them as they organize around an issue that directly affects their community. Most recently, I was inducted into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, which marks me as part of the top 20% of high achieving college students in the nation. Beyond my time at USF, I want to pursue a career in non-profit work possibly with Generation Citizen or similar organizations that teach the youth both the significance and the means of political engagement.
EOYDC is extremely relevant to my career vision because I have benefited from the mentorship services it has provided me with greatly, so I want to continue that tradition in my own way. I first got involved with EOYDC the summer after my junior year in high school with the track program. Not only did working with Coach Curtis and the team strengthen my athletic performance, but it provided me with the opportunity to be surrounded by incredibly powerful and driven black people. I want to continue to be conducive to an environment like that. I fully recognize the importance of pushing each other to do better because there are so many influences in society that tell us to aspire to mediocrity.
I also participated as a mentor and a mentee in the Brotherhood Across America program, in which I was able to give insight to younger students and listen to the advice of working professionals. These experiences reminded me not to devalue my own accomplishments because they can serve as an example for someone. At the same time I felt a sense of humility fitting of where I am in life because there is so much more I have to learn about myself and the world around me. I went on the D.C. college tour with Ms. Regina. I’d been on other college tours before, but this one stood out to me because we got to visit with executives of the World Bank and the Senior Advisor to President Obama, Michael Strautmanis. The experience helped me expand the scope of what I can imagine for my future and emphasized the importance of networking. And last but not least, the Pathway to College Program had a major impact on my life. Ms. Jasmine was an excellent resource for finding scholarships. With her help, I went into fall of my freshman year with 6 scholarships that made college substantially more affordable.
Overall, EOYDC has been and continues to be a place that fosters personal and academic growth. Even though I haven’t been active in as many programs or as long as some other people, I still feel that Ms. Regina makes EOYDC a welcoming, family environment. Having such a strong support system in the formative years of my life gave me a better grasp on what resources were available to me, where to look for positive role models, and how high to aim in terms of my own personal ambitions. I believe EOYDC will continually be the place to crank out community leaders and exemplary citizens because of all the love packed into every program it puts on.
My name is David Thomas Jr, and I am a Senior at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where I am studying Political Science & Economics. Ms. Regina has welcomed me as a member of the EOYDC family since I met her as an elementary student at St. Leo The Great School in Oakland. However, as a native of the city of Berkeley, and as a student at St. Mary’s College High School, I often marginalized myself because of the distance and never truly took full advantage of “The Center” until college. Its surreal to understand how much of a blessing it is to be apart of such a progressive ethnic community in a city that is shadowed by turmoil and violence.
Growing up I always knew that there was more to life than just the Bay Area. The only thing that separates me and others from home is that I had the resources and the experiences to make it out. As a Political Scientist and Economist, my primer concentrations is Community & Economic Development as well as International Affairs. A career goal of mine is to uplift un-derrepresented and impoverished areas both domestically and internationally. The mission and vision of the EOYDC has definitely inspired me to follow in its footsteps.
The number one thing that I’ve internalized from the EOYDC is that I represent more than just myself at all times. At age 21, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to travel to over half of the United States and 10 different countries. However, there are people in Oakland who have barely made it out of their own 50 mile radius, or have died before age 18. No matter where I go in this world, I am a representation of my family, my community, my hometown, and often times my race. My goal is to continually defy all of the negative stereotypes of the groups that I repre-sent.
As I advice to all students who are currently following in my footsteps in their ascension to greatness, I offer the following words. “As long as you keep your faith in God, and continue to perfect your craft, the Sky Is The Limit.”
Nine years ago when International Blvd was known as East 14th Street would always drive past a particular building located on 82 and East 14th. I would ask my father what took place inside that building. He would respond, that’s where great students go to learn, although he wasn’t quite sure specifically what the facility was for. Fast forward six years and a man named Ben Polansky walks into my Oakland high school English class to talk about a summer internship program called CORO Exploring Leadership. After being accepted into the program each CORO intern was assigned an internship at a particular organization. The day came when our internships were assigned to us, and my assignment read “East Oakland Youth Development Center at 82nd and International.” At that moment my mind clicked and I remembered about the building I used to ask my father about.
The first day I walked into the EOYDC I was mesmerized with all the activities that were taking place all at once. I was assigned to help out in the Pathway to College program. Throughout the summer I was in charge of creating a college newsletter and assisting the PTC coordinator with given tasks. Most of my fellow CORO interns never returned to their assigned internship program, but I did. During my internship I was able to learn more about the EOYDC and I was able to become part of the PTC program. By joining the PTC program I was able to grow as a student, I learned how to become a more dedicated student and improve my communication skills. During Fall 2010, following excellent participation, I was given the opportunity to attend the White House College Tour to colleges in DC. The trip helped me continue to grow by exposing me to real life leaders, such as Michael Strautmanis, Assistant Advisor to President Obama. During my encounter with Mr. Strautmanis we engaged in heated debate about how he advises the President. From this experience I was able to realize that I would someday want to be a leader and be an influential person like him. Aside from meeting Mr. Strautmanis I was able to visit several other universities, such as Georgetown University, which I aspire to attend in the near future. Currently, I am a sophomore at San Francisco State University majoring in Business Administration, which I wouldn’t be able to attend if it wasn’t for the help and support I received both financially and emotionally from everyone at the EOYDC. I enjoy touring PTC students around my campus and sharing the challenges and opportunities I have had in hopes that my story will help others. I want to be an executive in my future career. When I look back at all that I’ve accomplished thus far I know it wouldn’t have been possible without the help and opportunities that I’ve been gratefully given by the EOYDC.
My name is Francisco Arce and I am a first generation college student pursuing Finance major here at Santa Clara University. I am currently a third year and looking back over the years I can affirm that I would not be here today if it was not for the help and guidance I received at EOYDC. I began attending EOYDC in High school, thanks to my older sister who was already involved and invited me to join. Once I entered EOYDC I was welcomed and got to work. The college mentor, Ms. Jasmine, quickly took the initiative to meet with me and had a conversation with me about my college goals. She helped me set up a college list and began questioning what I needed in a college in order for me to be successful. Ms. Jasmine got me thinking and considering many aspects of college I had not even thought about. This was the help I needed, the guidance through a system a first generation college student is not aware of. I cannot thank EOYDC enough for their help, however when school is not in session I go back to the center. I go back to EOYDC because I want to give back, I want to help students from my community and guide them towards a college education that will open many doors for their future. Giving back is a value EOYDC has instilled in me and has shaped my professional aspirations. I have enjoyed learning and studying business, however I think I want to pursue a more advanced degree and go to Law School. I want to be able to have a career where I dedicate my time and effort to helping those in our society that are most vulnerable and are often taken advantage of. Growing up in Oakland, I have seen many injustices and I want to be able to correct them and help my community prosper. This is my goal and I know I with the support of EOYDC it is possible.
The East Oakland Youth Development Center has been in my community since the 1970’s. As a kid, living on 85th avenue, my father and mother would always make my sisters and I go to the EOYDC to get more involved with our community members through education, recreation and leisure, computer and job training courses that mended us members of the East Oakland community, all through the works of the EOYDC. In my teenage years, my participation with the East Oakland Youth Development Center gradually decline, as I became more involved with sports and other extracurricular activities, but this decrease in my participation with the EOYDC soon reversed. As a junior at Castlemont High School in East Oakland, I excelled in my academics, but was in search of a job in my favor to build my experience as a leader. Suddenly, One of my classmates told me about the hiring of youth leaders at the East Oakland Youth Development Center, so I decided to apply for the position. As a result, my qualities of a leader were prevailant in the interviewing process, which leader to my position as a youth leader, creative writing instructor and music instructor. As I kid in elementary I had a tutor to assist me with my academics, which led to my aspiration to eventually tutor youth that had similar academic hardships like myself. Due to my youth leader and academic excellence, I was offered a position as a year round tutor.
As a senior in high school, my boss and mentor, Ms. Regina persuaded me into applying for several scholarships: Rainbow Push Coalition, East Bay College Fund and the Pathway to College Scholarship. The Rainbow Push Coalition Scholarship was founded by Reverend Jesse Jackson, which consisted of a historic Black college tour throughout the southwest and southeastern regions of the United States. The East Bay College Fund is a four-year $16,000 scholarship, that includes a mentor for students who excell in extracurricular activities, community involvement and academic excellence. Lastly, the Pathway to College scholarship was created by the East Oakland Youth Development Center, offered financial assistance for inner city youth within Oakland and other neighboring cities. The Rainbow Push Coalition scholarship made me realize how many African-American predominant college there are, which foster an environment of colorful intellectuals from various ethnicities. Secondly, the East Bay College Fund assured me with complete financial assistance for college, along with a mentor to make sure i’m on the right track. Lastly, the Pathway to College fund, which was granted by the EOYDC ensured my college success along with the bonding of fellow co-worker/recipients. Overall, the East Oakland Youth Development Center nurtured me in an academic, leadership and persistent young man.
My experience working with the East Oakland Youth Development center has influenced my career interests in the Educational field. Ever since I have stopped working for the East Oakland Youth Development Center, I have continued a circuitous path toward helping at-risk youth in inner cities such as Oakland and Hayward, California. After my experience working with the EOYDC, I was hired by East Bay Consortium as a tutor and mentor for Oakland Unified School District. I have worked with this program from 2012–2014, assisting youth with in-class tutoring along with a case load of students, which involve group bonding activities, peer support and check in to follow up on their academic progress. After my experience working with the East Bay Consortium, I was hired to work with Boys and Girls Moving Forward Education as a CAHSEE prep tutor, mentor and in-class tutor. The site that I am currently working at now is Hayward Community School, which is in junction with Alameda County Office of Education. These community schools serve as a haven for at-risk students who were kicked out of school and student who just got out of the juvenile hall. This job is very rewarding, as I have actually been an at-risk student my self, which allows a profound relationship with the students along with the staff that I work with.
My career goals is to become a teacher, tutor and mentor for inner-city youth while I am young, because I feel more connected with the youth. Subsequently, I am intending on getting my masters in Educational Leadership, where I can become an assistant principal and eventually a principal of a middle or high school. In addition, I have interests in becoming a professor at a community college. I am not quite sure exactly what I will teach, but I have an overall idea of teaching history or educational leadership. One day, I hope to have my own non-profit tutoring and afterschool program such as East Oakland Youth Development Center, East Bay Consortium, Boys and Girls Moving Forward. As long as I remain optimistic, I strongly believe that I can reach these. In my opinion, the East Oakland Youth Development Center helped pave my road to success and I am very grateful of that. Lastly, my utmost respect and commendments go to Regina Jackson, the strong woman who believed in me, despite of my aloof personality and hard-headedness. Regina Jackson has the nurturing and supporting qualities in which I missed from my childhood, growing up in Deep East Oakland, California
I am a third-year Business Administration major, with a concentration in management. I also work part-time for Allstate insurance, while serving as the VP of Technology for the Banking and Investment Association at San Jose State. My short-term goal is to obtain an undergraduate degree in Spring of 2016 and pursue my Masters in Business Administration at Haas School of Business (Berkeley) or Stanford Graduate School of Business. Long-term: I plan to hold an executive position in a Fortune 500 company, and use my influence to give back to the community from which I came.
The skills learned through the East Oakland Youth Development Center’s curriculum, and opportunities given to me by Ms. Regina have given me an advantageous. I have been a part of the EOYDC family for ten years now, starting out as a participant in the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program. I learned a lot about leadership from the Youth Leaders whom mentored me- they taught me responsibility and the importance of emulating a role model that you want the youth to be like. In 2008, I was given the opportunity to serve as a Youth Leader, and then a Math Instructor in 2010. It filled me with much pride to know Ms. Regina saw leadership qualities in me, and that East Oakland youth looked up to me. It was a wonderful opportunity, but sometimes I questioned if I had what it takes to lead a group of underprivileged children. I often asked, “How can I be the role model our youth need when I am a child myself?” Luckily I had two great friends- Brent and Jamal- who I could lean on when needed. They helped me develop as a leader for our youth, and made sure I stayed away from the nonsense so prevalent in our community. Together, we partook in character building sessions at the Center, such as Dress For Success and Brotherhood Across America.
The EOYDC provided me opportunities that helped me get to where I am today. In 2011, I joined Ms. Regina and about eight other high school students on a Southwest Airlines sponsored New York college tour. My initial thought was that we were flying out there just to visit campuses; I should have known Ms. Regina had much more in store. While in New York, we visited the United Nations building and talked to delegates about their international work, popped in on NBA marketers, and got to spend a day on the set of Good Morning America. We stayed in a Manhattan hotel, ate in Brooklyn restaurants, and got to shop in Harlem. It was nice to see Columbia and NYU, but I enjoyed visiting the professionals the most because it showed me the vast possibilities after college graduation. I also took part in the Big City Mountaineers program through the EOYDC, which taught me team-building skills and perseverance- both of which are vital in business application.
My leadership role was not confined to EOYDC- in 2011 I joined the Brotherhood Leadership Advisory Council. As one of the first members, we structured and planned events to get more young black males interested in going to college. It was nice to see my work with EOYDC translated into other areas and could benefit youth any and everywhere.
The EOYDC has given me plenty opportunity and taught me invaluable skills. I am confident in my future because of my talents and the experience under my belt. Recently, I helped bring on Allstate insurance as a sponsor to the EOYDC and I still volunteer my time for College Bound Brotherhood events. I may not always be in Oakland, but I will always be an East Oakland Youth Development Center Youth Leader.
At a young age I struggled with finding my path like many youth in the Bay Area. Having friends that would get into all types of trouble I made a few bad choices. These choices resulted in me being expelled from school for almost two full school years. In the mist of my being expelled my father was hired at EOYDC, he began to run the athletic program and that started the change for the better in my life.
For the years away from school my father decided to home school me and keep a close eye on me. He took me to work with him every day. At the beginning I would go out of force but I quickly couldn’t stay away. Being surrounded by so many people that cared for me and wanted to see my prosper was something that I needed. It was in the center where I developed my passion for basketball. I wasn’t very good at first and none of the local teams would put me on the team. So my father started a basketball team at the center that was filled with youth from the city that were continuously overlooked. We learned respect, discipline, teamwork, history, developed friendship and our basketball skills grew rapidly. We were soon the best team in Northern California for our age group. Basketball was not the only thing that EOYDC had to offer. I got into almost all of the programs and from those I developed my love for art, music and fashion.
The center was a pivotal point in my life. I became a young adult there and got my life in order. Got on track to becoming an honors student at the high school level as well as college. Earned academic and athletic scholarships from schools all over the country. I decided to attend the University of Hawaii where I was a business student for two years. I ultimately graduated my with my BA in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Riverside, while staring on the basketball team.
Currently I am developing my own brand management company working with fashion designers, musicians and models. I also coach youth in life skills and basketball, giving back that foundation of respect, discipline and teamwork. EOYDC gave me a solid foundation to change my path in life and now I focus on giving back to the community through my example and my teachings.
I am a fourth year engineering major at UC Merced planning on attending graduate school after receiving my Bachelor’s Degree. Engineering is a field that I have been interested in since I was in middle school and I have prepared myself throughout high school and throughout college to be as successful as I can be in my field of research. Once I finish Graduate School I would like to pursue a career in structure engineering and architecture or possibly build my own firm designing clean energy structures. Of course, I couldn’t have come as far as I’ve come without the EOYDC. I began at the EOYDC while I was in high school. I was at Bishop O’Dowd High School, to be specific, when a classmate recommended me to the EOYDC to work as a homework tutor. Once I was welcomed into the center, my life changed dramatically.
Being a homework tutor and a mentor for the young people was enriching, but more so being a part of the family was the root of all things great. I then joined the Pathway to College (PTC) Program during my senior year of high school. I was granted the opportunity to travel to New York for a week, visiting colleges and exploring the professional world. While in New York an EOYDC alumni helped coordinate for my group to present to a graduate class in social justice and community. It allowed each of us to speak about our experience at the EOYDC, what the EOYDC is and how we as a group plan to build onto its reputation and carry out its mission moving forward. I was not the best public speaker, as a matter of fact, I was a terrible public speaker. I was sweating, over thinking and I didn’t do too well in front of a huge audience. Since then, I have been placed in numerous public speaking settings and I must say that I have grown tremendously because of it. I take everything as a lesson and you can only get better from your mistakes. I have heard from many EOYDC alumni that you must lean into uncomfortable situations in order to grow. Without the EOYDC I’m not too sure that I would’ve ever been able to speak in a public setting, but the support of those around me and the push that my elders have given me has made me that much more successful in more aspects than just public speaking. I’ve learned to be a better leader, I’ve grown wiser and I’ve developed an deeper understanding of myself.
Although there were great institutions in the east coast, I decided to stay local and attend UC Merced. Another blessing that the PTC Program has provided for me is yearly scholarship money that has been helping my financial burdens. The EOYDC has always given, so I make it my duty to give back.
Just this past summer, 2014, I was a member of the delegation of Oakland, California participating in an US-China Exchange Program through the Think China 2014 program. It is an extension of the My Brothers Keeper Initiative to help build ladders of opportunity for boys and young men of color. As a college mentor on the trip, it is also an extension of Brotherhood Across America, which allowed myself and the other college mentors to connect with the high school delegates and counsel them through multi-level mentoring. Being in China was a great experience. It allowed me to become a better leader thus a better person, overall. It allowed me to view another world outside of the one we live in here in America. The different lifestyles taught me to appreciate what I have, where I am and the freedom that I am granted. It opened my mind to a new way of thinking and a new found appreciation for life. For this, I have the EOYDC to thank and even more so I must thank and show an immense amount of appreciation for Ms. Regina Jackson.
Aside from the gratification of helping and giving back to the center, aside from the great experiences and memories, travelling to New York and China, aside from the scholarship opportunities, the job opportunities and all the connections; it is the support, the encouragement and the love from the EOYDC community that make the center so extraordinary. My friends and family at the center push me to be the best I can be, they don’t allow me to get too comfortable and most of all we love each other; and for that I will be forever grateful.
My name is Shaheed Ali and I am a proud 2005 graduate of Castlemont High School in Oakland, CA. I was in the first group of students to receive an EOYDC scholarship and thank them for helping me continue my education after high school. Currently, I am a graduating senior at San Francisco State University majoring in Business Management and working part-time at the Oakland Airport FedEx, where I have been for a year now. Getting where I am today was no easy task as it took much focus, time and lots and lots of patience. Upon Graduating Castlemont High School I went on to San Jose State University, which was a great experience for me. But being young I found it very difficult balancing school, work and personal life and resulted in a disqualification from the University after only 3 semesters. After being disqualified I then decided to go to San Jose City to finish up my GE with the intent of eventually going back to SJ State. While attending San Jose City I still wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do in terms of school. I was still trying to find myself and even took some time off from school in order to do that. After the “finding myself” phase I realized how important it was for me to further my education. I did it not only for me, but also for my parents who play a huge role in my life and have been an enormous support throughout my college years; anxiously waiting the day I get my diploma. I realized getting my diploma was bigger than just me and was about giving back, along with taking advantage of the opportunities, which would enable me to accomplish my task of becoming a college graduate. That time off from college put me at a crossroads with school, even with life and made the decision I felt would benefit me better in the long run. So to school I returned and completed my GE at San Jose City College. I stayed in San Jose with the purpose of enrolling back into San Jose State University, but the school made it very tough for disqualified students to get back into their program and the chances of me returning were extremely slim. After seeing this I started exploring other options and one of those options was moving back home to Oakland and attending SF State; with the assumption that I got accepted into the school. So I applied to SF State and am grateful that I was accepted into the University. With the support of my parents, family and close friends 3 years later I am a graduating senior of the fall semester class of 2014. I again would also like to give a personal thank you to the EOYDC organization and to Ms. Regina in particular. After graduating high school, years past and I eventually lost contact with the organization up until about a year ago. Ms. Regina reached out to me after an unexpected run in with each other and we have been in contact ever since. It is my hope that EOYDC continues to give back to the community and be even more successful in the years to come.
Coming into Bishop O’Dowd one of my good friends Jamal Rasheed (King of the EOYDC) had always told me about the beautiful opportunities that were available to me at the center, such as internships, scholarships, college tours, and the opportunity to give back to the youth. Once I stepped foot through the doors of the center I knew I was home probably because it felt like a huge family as soon as Jamal introduced me to everybody. The EOYDC has helped me evolve in so many different ways. The pathway to college program gave me the opportunity to visit my first college campus, which inspired me to attend a four-year college after I graduated. After graduating from O’Dowd I decided to attend a junior college to mature before I left home. Thanks to the Pathway to College Program I was able to receive over $12,000 in scholarships and an acceptance letter from the University of Oregon. Things only got better when I stepped foot on campus at the U of O. During my first year I received a cumulative 3.3 GPA, worked as an intern for the athletic department’s community outreach program, worked on ESPN’s College Gameday, made numerous connections with professionals from companies such as Nike, Adidas, and Weiden and Kennedy, and got into the university’s School of Journalism and Communication. At U of O I also had the chance to develop a solid friendship with another EOYDC alum Sasha Wallace, whom is apart of the track team. Sasha and I day in and day out continue to represent the center in extraordinary ways on campus with our passion to succeed and mindset to pursue nothing but excellence. I believe none of these opportunities that I have received this past year would have been possible without the foundation that I created at the center.
Another program that has helped influence me and make me the man that I am today is Brotherhood Across America, which helped me create a bond with ambitious young African-American men like myself. Every meeting we discussed black culture and gave advice to our younger brothers. The important information that I received through Brotherhood Across America as a high schooler inspired me to give back to younger students and help them reach there dreams of attending the college of their choice. Although I value every experience given to me from the EOYDC, the one that changed my life was the college tour trip to New York trip as it shaped me to life outside of the Bay Area. This experience helped me vision my career and put the spark on my drive to attend the University of Oregon. The EOYDC planted a drive in me that cannot be broken. Ms. Regina has built something special; she has raised a group of successful young men and women. She has always installed in me the power of intelligence and to always peruse excellence in my life. Because of the EOYDC I have had the opportunity to work for organizations such as the Golden state Warriors and Nike.
The EOYDC will always be home to me. The culture that surrounds the center is legendary when you look at who has come out of there. Everybody who walks through those doors I can guarantee they will leave more determined and wanting to seek excellence. I am completely ready for what the future holds for me as I continue my journey on the road to success. The center will always be apart of my life and my family’s life because of the love and support that I have received from their faculty for these past five years.
As an East Oakland native, I had the opportunity to connect with the strong NBA history of players that have come through the EOYDC. I had the opportunity to participate in the basketball program and my agent, Aaron Goodwin is an alumn and trustee. In 2012, EOYDC honored me as a champion for youth at its annual something for everyone event hosted by Brian Shaw, another EOYDC alumn. My parents and I were there to support and help raise money for the pathway to college programs. I believe in EOYDC and the tremendous impact it has on all its participants.
My name is Danon DeAndre Hooker-Lemon and I am currently a Collection Representative for the Internal Revenue Service in Atlanta, GA. I was born and raised in East Oakland, California and grew up on 80th and 83rd Avenue. I was introduced to EOYDC aka “The Center” from just being around the neighborhood. It was a great place for us to be a part of a variety of positive activities from art to sports, to keep us off the streets and from the temptations that came with it. Looking back as a child, it was a great place for us to get a head start on things that we would eventually be able to pursue during schooling and our careers. During my high school years my participation at the center was on and off. During my senior year at McClymonds High School, I had the opportunity to reconnect and gain employment with my EOYDC family. I worked alongside a few great individuals as Homework Helpers. Once the school year was coming to a close I applied and was selected to be a Youth Leader for the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program (SCEP). I felt that the Youth Leader title was fitting because we were just that, leaders and role models to not only the kids/teens in our designated groups, but to all of them. I was greatly appreciative with having the opportunity to not only make and save money for the start of my freshman year of college, but to be a part of what I consider as my extended family and also being a positive individual that the kids could look up to. The following year I applied and was selected for the Assistant Director of the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program position. It was the first time that I had any type of experience and a position in management. Myself, the other Assistant Director and the Director were in charge of pretty much the day-to-day operations. We were responsible for everything from budgets to field trips for the SCEP and made sure that our staff of youth leaders were on their A game when it came to the children and their separate duties. The personal and professional experiences that I’ve gained while being a part of EOYDC, has landed me one of my best job positions so far in my career with the Internal Revenue Service. Having been there for the last 6 years, I’ve had different job titles within my position that I can contribute to my assistant director position. I’m very appreciative of all of my experiences with EOYDC and consider everyone apart of my extended family. Even though I’m 2,500+ miles away, I’m still able to communicate with everyone through the phone and social media. I appreciate Ms. Regina for all of her hard work and all of the opportunities she has allowed the youth from across the bay area to be a part of. She is not only a great director but also a mentor to myself and all of the alum and current members for EOYDC.
My EOYDC story started at Skyline High School. I also went to Merritt College, Riverside Community College and I graduated from Cal Baptist Univ. Riverside with Kinesiology as my major. I participated in EOYDC Track and Field.
I first started through Skyline High’s track team. We trained at EOYDC and were coached by Curtis Taylor. At EOYDC they showed love I trained for the whole year. My event was the 200 and my main events were the long jump high jump and triple jump. We went to the state championship in 2000,I learned some amazing lessons in the track club. First and foremost was discipline. The type of athletes we had were division 1. We were going places!Most of the highest achievers were women. They had been with EOYDC for years. Hard work and dedication were the price of admission. At the state meet in 2004 I saw Curtis again. He congratulated me, whenever I see Curtis its love. He is an amazing coach. He is a professional coach. He trained folks for the Olympic trials. The things he taught me for personal training I still use to this day to help people improve their times
I have always been an athlete. My dream was to be a professional athlete but that didn’t happen. There is a saying, “those that can’t do teach” I understand the mechanics behind sports; I know how to improve somebodys time through technique and strength training.
Today, I am personal trainer with Millifit. Millifit is an online personal training platform. It is new to the industry and in the next five to 10 years you will see it transform lives across the globe. I am also married with a two year old son. I thank EOYDC for great memories and for planting seeds that I sow today.
Spoken Word Artist
Ise Lyfe (HBO Def Poetry, Huffington Post, New York Times) is an award winning recording artist, justice advocate, author, and actor. Additionally, he’s one of the leading Spoken Word artist in America with a broad fan base stemming from his appearances on several commercial market platforms and his social and political commentary, which exist in the realms of published works, major network guest commentary, college speaking, and even conceptual art.
For his latest conceptual art project, Brighter Than Blight (2013), Lyfe transformed a blighted condemned housing project into a life-sized exhibition and artistic narrative on housing as a human right. From its onset, the project was ambitious and massive — but at completion was hailed as not only unprecedented but also as a stellar success! Brighter Than Blight was covered by major media outlets throughout the US and attracted a broad audience as well as hired and trained dozens of young people and community members. His famed Hip-Hop Theater production Pistols and Prayers (based on book of same title) premiered at the Tony Award winning Berkeley Repertory Theater and brings together on one stage Spoken Word, American Folk Spirituals, Classical music, Hip-Hop, and Theater to address American apathy and resilience through the lens of the generation born into the 1980’s/1990’s crack epidemic. A powerful collage of thought provoking sociopolitical commentary, blended with a glimpse into the author’s coming of age as a man, artist, and advocate for social change.
This young man has a decade of experience in performance and education that includes residencies and lectures at over 300 universities including Yale and Princeton.
*In 2012, Ise Lyfe’s hometown of Oakland, CA awarded him with one of its highest honors by dedicating his birthday, December 28th, as ‘Ise Lyfe Day’ in the City of Oakland. Ise comes back to EOYDC to share his stories of struggle and encouragement. You will even hear references to EOYDC in some of his professional work!
What made me stay was that the staff was amazing. They were so freely willing to give kids responsibilities. They helped us kids become adults.I wasn’t a boys and girls club kind of kid but EOYDC provided a comfortable environment. It was like going to an afterschool program where the curriculum was naturally evolving like life. It didn’t come across too structured like a school setting, but it was quite the class, just masked really well!
EOYDC was a place where time was not important…when you were in that environment you got to be a kid, you felt comfortable. It wasn’t top of mind that other kids might go home starving. Even though it was the truth.
I learned a lot about leadership and independence at the center. Many kids came from dependency in the home, as if it was a necessity. They saw failure time and time again. Then they came to the center and there was a different narrative. Especially during the summer program there were underlying messages- to learn to be responsible for your actions, to be respectful to peers and elders.
Considering where we lived, the center allowed you to see the light at the end of the rainbow. It was clear that there was still possibility regardless of your circumstance. I became a track athlete first and then a youth leader.
The track club was amazing and tremendously successful. All of us went to division one schools on scholarship. The majority of us had track records everywhere we went. I was part of a 4 by 1 and 4 by 4 team that established records at SF City College. Now that was a pretty nice accomplishment. I went to Cal State Northridge and ran track there as well. I stayed connected to the EOYDC track club while at Cal State Northridge during the summers and holidays
After graduating college, I started working in radio television and film. I worked with some of the biggest music video directors. I shot the first “pit bull” music video called Culo, shot an MTV music video with Rick Ruben and Little John. Later I became a casting director,and worked on the show “fifth wheel”. Then I jumped into fashion. I spent 10 years there, helping build the five four brand, and Hollywood cartel. on the initial team for young and reckless. We won Gorilla marketing of the year award. I was fortunate to forge creative collaborations with Reebok, and Rockstar video games, like Midnight Club Los Angeles.
Nowadays, I have returned to a first love, deejaying. It has always been something that I loved to do. The DJ gets to curate the night and take people back on a journey. Music is a way to catalog memories of your past. My family would always tell stories surrounded by music. To be that guy now, is the best ever. I have residencies in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, LA and Foxwood, Connecticut.
I have great memories of my time at EOYDC. I stay in touch with Ms Regina and follow EOYDC through social media. I forged some long term relationships with friends from EOYDC and for that I will always be grateful!
We were introduced to EOYDC Hoyas, Coach Kwame and later Coaches Jamir and Matt, and we looked up to them growing up. The regulars there and everyone was getting together having a ball. We were exposed to things beyond Oakland, like Sacramento and San Jose. The basketball program gave us an outlet.
We weren’t the best team. We didn’t have the strong attitude, but we learned to fight up- hill battles. We did some different things together too. The basketball team started taking computer classes. The classes Mr. Dwight taught used basketball references. We took class as a team, if someone didn’t get it we had to pitch in and help. Computer class was our ticket to play basketball. I still use the computer skills to this day.
One of my best memories was when Magic Johnson donated the computer room to the center. The day he came, my essay was entered into the drawing to receive a computer. I couldn’t believe it when my name was called! Magic Johnson presented the computer to me. I was so surprised, shocked and nervous and then excited and so proud to meet one of my favorite basketball legends. Then we saw the room, it was purple and yellow, and it was fun. I will never forget that day! Even when we were doing work, it was great atmosphere we liked to be around.
My first job was a youth leader for the summer program. It was awesome. It helped me become more responsible. The experience taught me a lot about getting to work on time, and being a role model to kids even though I was a kid myself. I also learned the value of money.
The friendships I made stay with me to this day. KP was real influential. He was just a few years older but his training made a difference. When we were working out at EOYDC practicing a couple times a day. KP sprinkled his knowledge. We helped him grow as a trainer and he helped us grow as players. I was with these guys every day, Jamal, Jabari and Jamil. We still talk every day on google chat. We still get together and help each other out. I think about that and it makes me feel good. I just talked to big Bobby and Ryan the other day! After I went off to high school and then college at University of Rhode Island, I was by myself. It was different. It was farthest I ever been. Since I couldn’t play the first year, I understood how to be a student before I was an athlete. I left school and made a transition. I wanted to get into the draft. I made it to the D league and worked my way into the line- up and became a key player.
While being physically active me and many of my associates utilized the programs that were held at E.O.Y.D.C. Art, computer, job opportunities, and gym just to name a few were always available. I met many people and learned many new things and saw even more. This youth development center kept a lot of pre- teens and teens out of trouble. Now, I am a licensed barber and in pursuit in having one of the best barber shops in Oakland. The center played a part in developing me, keeping me safe, engaged and staying well on many levels. The center impacted me in positive ways and I hope it can do the same for the upcoming generations. My wife, Keyanna is also an EOYDC alumn. Our kids now attend many programs that the center provides: Book clubs, summer programs and camps.
Growing up in Oakland, California, there were many opportunities to end up in “wrong place, wrong time” situations, especially for a young black man. As my mother’s only son, she tried her best to make sure that didn’t happen to me. This meant that unless it was school-related, my mother was involved, or she knew someone who could watch over me, there were many activities that my friends did that I wasn’t able to do. I am happy that one place that she trusted me being was the EOYDC.
I started going to the EOYDC when I was 16. In between seasons playing for Castlemont High School, I played on the EOYDC summer basketball team. It was a space where I was allowed to not just play basketball, but connect with friends and explore other areas of interest. What I appreciated the most were the adults who were there, like Ms. Regina or Kwame. The adults of EOYDC cared about us. They were from our community and they wanted us to grow to be well rounded people. It was always bigger than basketball or track or tutoring the EOYDC. It all boiled down to you, your well-being, and your future within the community.
EOYDC has played a major part in my development. That well-rounded approach helped me get to UC Berkeley and helped me realize it there were other ways to be successful beyond basketball. I could impact my community in other ways. I have had chances to work alongside Ms. Regina and see myself and EOYDC grow. Today, I am an Admissions Counselor at Stanford University, working in the Oakland area. I am proud of the work I have done and will continue to do serving Oakland’s youth and helping them access college and achieve.
Like many of the kids from the neighborhood, I played Basketball in the now infamous EOYDC gym. I remember playing every Monday and Wednesday evening. Everybody came in, so it was always packed. It was my opportunity to spend time with my friends from the neighborhood, because during the day we were in school. I attended Oakland High, which was a little farther out than the high schools close to EOYDC . What I got from the center that I didn’t get anywhere else was that the Oakland Police Department had a team in the EOYDC league. We were able to dialogue with the police like they were regular people, without the uniforms and the intimidation. It was a great opportunity to spend time with them as individuals. This was during the time when drugs were exceedingly prevalent around the Coliseum and Lockwood Housing Authorities. There was a lot of violence and a lot of drug activity, and it was all around us. The Center was the place where you could leave that all behind. At EOYDC you could be among friends playing the most fierce game of basketball, a game that we all loved. I serve on the EOYDC Foundation Board, and it is my board of choice! I have hosted many family gathering and birthdays parties for my daughters at EOYDC, stay close with many alums, like Gary Payton- just one of the many NBA phenoms to come out the Center. Whenever I come back to the Center for basketball tournaments or events, it is a home coming. I see old friends and remember back to the good old days, playing ball in the gym!
Although I only come to Oakland about a month out of the year now, I stay involved with EOYDC whenever I can. I host EOYDC fundraisers at my house in Oakland. We always have a good turnout, meet the college bound and college scholars and raise money for the Center. I also participate in various EOYDC basketball camps and speak to the kids about how to accomplish things in life. As a young person, I attended my first organized camp of any kind at EOYDC. Lester Connor used to play pick-up there, and he was a role model. The volunteers taught us basketball and how to translate those skills to life. One of the best things I learned was to be appropriate for the situation. How people act on the street should be different when they are interviewing for a job. How you look, how you dress, how you talk can turn people off when you are making a first impression. When we got out of packet, the adults always reminded us to do better. I remember all of this, so giving back to the Center has been important to me. I was speaking at a camp at EOYDC when a little girl in the audience looked at me in the eye and asked me if I had ever smoked weed. For a moment I was nervous because Channel 7 and my mother were there watching, but I couldn’t lie to her. I told her that I did experiment with weed at the end of high school and at the start of college. But I told her that I found out the hard way that drugs weren’t compatible with the goals I set for myself. I told them that I wasn’t there to preach or tell them they shouldn’t do drugs, but I wanted them to know that their actions have consequences. Afterward, my mother told me she was proud of me. She said that the worst thing I could have done was lie because it would have come back to haunt me. My mother and the folks at EOYDC taught me to be careful and thoughtful about what I say because it can have a great impact on others.
My brother and I started coming to EOYDC when I was 12 years old. I wasn’t very good at basketball but could run the court. Coach Leonard Knowles said “you need to be on the track team”, I told my mom, had tryouts and I recorded the fastest time in the 100 for the entire EOYDC. Some other guys came and were really good runners. We were put on a relay team. We all excelled individually but really flourished on the relay. We ran track for 3 years. The first year we were learning what it was all about, learning to run as a group. Both years one and two we got to state championship. We travelled to Cupertino, Los Angeles but the ultimate goal was to get to nationals in the Junior Olympics. We were called the EOYDC club team. The team members were David Page, Willie Latimore and Frederick Snoop, Maurice Lewis and Leon Patterson. Although it was four man team, we would substitute. We came in third in state the first year. We began Intensive training to learn techniques. The second year we took third again. David the anchor slipped in the shower and hurt his foot, he was the fastest. The third year, we were empowered to win. We started eating right, exercising seriously, sprinting up Keller hill in order to be really ready. Got to state and took first place. We were invited to Nationals where they had the Olympic trials track at Hayward field. I remember it to this day.
Through the JOY program at EOYDC (Job Opportunities for Youth) I received my first college internship. I was a management intern under Carol Ward Allen. My job was in real estate and my office was at the Oakland Airport. I shadowed her. She was the Executive Director. I majored in Psychology at Grambling State University and had several different jobs on the way to my chosen field.
Today, I work with Alameda County Network of Mental Health clients. We service the entire Bay Area. My title is Peer Mentor Manager where I support a variety of ages from 25–50. I provide housing support, resources for employment, advocacy for children and families. I am an advocate for wellness. I found my passion, it is to promote wellness. In the future I want to open up wellness centers.
Last year I reconnected with EOYDC. I attended the Brotherhood across America program and shared my words of wisdom to keep our college bound students encouraged and motivated. I have some great memories from my youth at EOYDC. Now I am creating a new set of memories for the future with EOYDC. Lovin’ It!