• Posted on: February 28, 2014

Powerful Men of EOYDC II

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Almost 10 years ago, I remember Cedric Brown (Managing Partner of the Kapor Center for Social Impact) conducting a listening campaign among nonprofit leaders. When we met, he asked what I thought about strategic programming focused on boys and men of color and what it would look like. At the time I remembered that approximately 52% of our population was made up of males and at the time we disproportionately served African American males. We were able to successfully serve that population primarily through our arts, wellness, jobs and computer training and GED programs. We were already recognizing tremendous results in our youth-led initiative for the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program (SCEP). Our young men were excitedly empowering and leading youth through our six-week programs. They were instructing computers, math, creative writing, cooking and dance. They were nurturing and affirming their own values personally and professionally. These leadership models spawned another youth-led thought process that birthed our wisdom circles. We called it STRETCH (Straight Talk about Respect, Excellence, Temperament, Character and Healing). Led by and high school students, weekly teen talks were facilitated around gangs, drugs, school, character, sex and impulse control and so much more. The openness and support everyone felt was demonstrated in better, more honest communication, report card presentation, and overall increased confidence. STRETCH was in fact stretching all who participated.

(photo credits: Nicka Smith of NS2 Photography)


On a more broad programming level, we were just beginning to design a systems platform to lift education particularly around college readiness and access. Cedric’s queries excited me about the possibility of real transformative agenda  lifting our beautiful, often sensitive young men. With funding from Kapor Center for Social Impact, we designed the Brotherhood Across America youth-led college mentoring model under the Pathway to College and Career (PTC2) umbrella. Today, we have college ambassadors on more than 50 campuses across America from Hawaii to Howard, Marquette to Morehouse, UC Berkeley, Davis and Chico, Sacramento State and in between. Our young people are persisting and they are helping each other through the daily grind, learning to share their challenges and address them before the errors are terminal. Another magnificent outcome of this work is that we are seeing many more of our students going into service related careers.

It is only fitting that Kapor Center for Social Impact would be centrally at the table when My Brother’s Keeper – a Presidential initiative lifting mentoring through education, employment and leadership  – would be signed. President Obama has lived through the challenges and responsibilities of being an African American male. He recognizes that our young men, who represent only 16% of college students, need extra support. In today’s landscape, the poor choices made by youth can be terminal and at a minimum have much deeper consequences than they did in our youth.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


I am proud to present the second edition of Powerful Men of EOYDC blog, our legacy of our work in the field. (In case you missed it, here’s our first Powerful Men of EOYDC blog) Enjoy the amazing journey of our men and boys of color who are living testimony to My Brother’s Keeper.



Aaron Beitia

Johnson C. Smith University, Graphic Design/Photography


Growing up in a single parent household and being an Oakland, California native, society expected my life to be short-lived. My mother always forced me into academics, sports, and most importantly art. A day never went by without my mother encouraging me to make art, sign my name and date it, so I will always be able to claim and be proud of my work.


I joined the EOYDC when I was 19 years old and I used to go to the Center to goof with my friends, not even imagining that the Center would be a part of my family. However, once Ms. Regina found out about me and who introduced me to the center we knew it would be one heck of a ride, but I digress. EOYDC had other plans for me and enrolled me in to the Pathway to College and Career (PTC2) program. Because of PTC2, I was able to attend college workshops, as well as financial seminars. I have also worked at EOYDC as a Youth Leader and I was the Art and Computer Instructor for the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program (SCEP). SCEP was not just a job, but it was a family and a very impacting learning experience for me and for the youth in the community. SCEP provided hope when others have given up. EOYDC was/is a home, a family when there was nowhere to go and nobody by your side. I personally love the Center because the purpose is simple – to provide an outlet for children in at-risk communities to have a chance in the world, and to make a lasting impression. Furthermore, to know that you can make a change in the world no matter who/what you are because greatness is in the mirror, just look! As I continued to grow, I realized that I had to stay on a positive path, so I pursued obtaining my college education.


Looking back on college now that I am a senior, it’s kind of crazy my mother always said you’ll look back one day and ask yourself “Where did the time go?” In reality I’ve been doing that ever since I came to college. I am now 21 years old, reaching a new chapter in my life – “REALITY.” It has taken me 21 years for me to truly realize and appreciate that being an artist is in my nature. I know that my purpose is to promote peace and happiness through my art and physical being. I’m not perfect but my mother always said, “If you love what you do then you will never work a day in your life.” College is important to me because I have a plan that meets a vision of success, a personal authenticity of hard work, blood, and tears.


The EOYDC is a place where you will receive all the essential tools to become successful in whatever it is you plan to do with your life. Once I become a world recognized artist and photographer, my goal is to give back to my community and to remember where I came from and who I can help to reach their dream.


“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the

ocean does not become dirty.”

-Mahatma Gandhi


Jabari Brown

University of Missouri, Psychology

U of M Tigers, Guard


Since I was nine or ten, I attended EOYDC. I made a lot of friends there, playing and going to Warriors Games. My favorite memory was the first time I played against Kiwi Gardner (current point guard for the Santa Cruz Warriors) he was one of the best players on the court. Eleven years later, he is one of my closest friends today. That’s one of the things I appreciate about EOYDC. I was able to make good friends, people you can count on. I appreciate the network I developed at the Center.


has been my foundation. Oakland is not the easiest place to play basketball, you have to be tough. During the summer, fellow alumnus Kelvin Potts gets us together to train, and it’s like a reunion. Hard work and hard play. Most kids dream of playing in the NBA. I am no different. I am doing everything I can to make that dream a reality. I hope to play in the NBA for 10+ years, and maybe continue a career in sports afterwards. Then I can come back to the Center and start a summer league so I can give another child some of the special memories that EOYDC gave me.

James Evans

California State University, Sacramento, Business Management


My name is James Evans and I am a senior at California State University, Sacramento. I currently major in Business Management and I am pursuing a Bachelor of the Arts degree. I am also an intern for College Works Painting, one of the largest residential painting companies in the country. My career goals are to become an accountant or a real estate agent. I also plan to obtain a MBA in Business Management and one day end up on the Fortune 500 list.


I was introduced to EOYDC at 18 years old by a close friend who basically grew up at the center. Before coming to EOYDC, I worked at the Boys and Girls club, so I thought I had a clue about what EOYDC was about. I was totally wrong. It was the total opposite of what I was expecting. Once I entered through those front doors I felt the excitement that runs through those halls every day. It made me nervous because I could hear a lot of commotion and I realized that those who come will be put to work. The Center is not a quiet place, and I needed to be introduced to a place where I would be forced to come out of the shell I had been hiding in. My friend knew this, so she threw me into the fire on the first day by having me introduce myself to the whole staff. I can still remember that experience to this day because it was one of the best experiences of my life. Never have I ever felt so comfortable in a work environment. I have never had a problem working with kids. I just never developed a relationship with the staffs I worked with in the past. At EOYDC, the whole staff embraced me like they had known me for years. Starting with Ms. Regina, when I first met her, she gave me a hug. That relieved all of the stress I had built up anticipating the moment I would meet her. After we talked, I had no more doubts that the EOYDC was the place for me. I approached every staff member, developed a conversation to start a relationship, and inform them that I would be here for years to come.


After my second year of college, I acquired my first job at EOYDC’s Summer Cultural Enrichment Program (SCEP) as the Computer Instructor. I felt a lot of pressure jumping into an instructor position because traditionally those who hold instructor positions came from a Youth Leader position. The pressure mounted from me knowing that I had a lot of work to do to develop a relationship with the children I instructed. Ms. Regina reassured me that I was the right choice for the position and her vote of confidence was all I needed to succeed. I excelled at my position and won the Instructor of the Year award. That award made me feel like I had arrived. I was ready to give more to EOYDC and SCEP. I returned the following summer to be hired as the Assistant Director of SCEP. That experience was awesome. I learned so much more about myself and developed more skills that I use today. Again, I returned the following summer to be hired as the Highway to Work Program Assistant and Visual Communications Assistant for SCEP. To this day, I still say those jobs were the best jobs of my life.


Aside from work, I also joined the Pathway to College and Career Program (PTC2). Although I was already enrolled in college, Ms. Jasmine enhanced my experience. Ms. Jasmine always gave me advice on how to deal with the rigors of college and excel. Her words of wisdom helped me in my development as a student. Through PTC2, I had the opportunities to go to Brian Shaw’s home for three straight years as a member of the Something for Everyone scholarship award ceremony. I have also been a part of the Brotherhood Across America (BAA) program for three years as well. I enjoy BAA the most because I get the opportunity to sit down with older and younger men who are just like me. We share deep stories and develop relationships that I will carry for the rest of my life. After every event I feel like a new and improved version of myself. This program carries a lot of weight and is the cornerstone to the evolution of black males in my community.


There is always hope when a program like this runs annually. To conclude, the EOYDC is everything and then some. If you are lost, you will definitely find yourself in the center. It is a place for everyone who wants to be successful in life. You will acquire lifelong skills and develop a family oriented style that can adapt to any situation. Most importantly, EOYDC will prepare you for life in the real world. I encourage everyone to attend the Center, especially young kids because they will be guided to success. It is a guarantee that you will be five times a better person attending the Center than you were before. I am a living example. Thank you.

Michael Garrick

University of California, Davis, Economics and Communications


My name is Michael Garrick and I am a senior at UC Davis majoring in Economics and minoring in Communications. I was a 4-year NCAA collegiate soccer player at UC Davis and Virginia Tech and plan to pursue as a career as a professional soccer player and entrepreneur.


“The Center” as many of us have become accustomed to calling the EOYDC, has been my home since the summer of 2008 when I worked as a math instructor. Being a Bishop O’Dowd student, many of my friends were involved with the EOYDC and told me about the opportunities it provided for young students to make money over the summer. I quickly applied for a position and to my surprise received my first paid job ever! Working at the EOYDC I was not considered to be just another employee, but was part of a family. The EOYDC would be nothing without a woman like Ms. Regina who is not only the President and CEO and face of the EOYDC, but also is a mother to over 1000+ kids who she cares and looks after like her own. She has not only given me the opportunity to fly to New York for an all expense paid college tour, receive multiple scholarships to ease the strain of rising college tuition, but she has also given me the opportunity to be a big brother to elementary and high school kids growing up in Oakland.


Giving back is a philosophy that will forever stick with the EOYDC. As a high school student, I was fortunate enough to be mentored by EOYDC college students, graduates, and professionals who wanted nothing less than the best for me. As I am getting ready to graduate from UC Davis, it is now my duty to give back the knowledge and wisdom I have acquired in my 5 years in college. The EOYDC is a second home to me and when I come back in town I get to see the many people who have made it such a great place. Though the EOYDC may look different today, the love, values, and support will forever remain.

Rodney M. Horne

Morehouse College, Biology


I have recently completed my junior year at the illustrious Morehouse College. My matriculation here thus far has been an incredible experience. Although biology struck my interest just in my sophomore year, it has been very rewarding. I have had an opportunity to meet and connect with those who have touched lives in America like no other. This semester, I have joined the Health Careers Society where the main mission is to reach medical school and in turn minimize the disparities that exist between African Americans and European Americans. I have also had the opportunity to receive mentoring from some of the most renowned medical professors in the country: Dr. J.K Haynes who studied at Brown University and MIT; Dr. Nnakwe, who studied at Illinois State University and the University of Chicago; and many others who come down to the college for recruitment.


My future is unwritten, however, it is promising. When I have fully matriculated here at Morehouse College, I will be starting a post-baccalaureate program for research. After completing my post-baccalaureate program, I will be entering medical school for pediatrics.


The East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) has played an intricate role in my continuing progress as a mentor, a brother, as well as a student. About 8 years ago, when I entered the EOYDC as a youth leader, I had no idea how much of a significant influence it would have on my future. After learning the importance of being a leader – meaning that I was responsible for setting and maintaining positive standards to everyone I encountered – I was able to truly lead those under me. Although college was always a demand in my household, the EOYDC was truly able to help augment the unfolding of my potential. The Pathway to College and Career (PTC2) program had a tremendous impact on my future as well. Through this program I was able to embark upon a journey I have never experience before. I was able to travel to many different states and visit many different Historically Black Colleges and Universities, specifically my college of interest, Morehouse College. During the tour, I was able to experience the college environment. The Atlanta University Center (AUC), especially Morehouse College, was something I had never imagined. At Morehouse there were so many people, who looked like me, that were chasing their dreams and were always willing to help each other on the way. I knew, then, that that is where I wanted to be.


While at Morehouse College, I have been able to express my leadership in a plethora of ways. I was able to assist my resident director freshman year, which is unlikely; usually sophomores and upperclassmen are chosen, because they have already experienced the resident life. I have also been able to sit on the Across America panel to help assist high school seniors get prepared to succeed in college.


EOYDC, I can honestly say, has gone above and beyond to put me in leadership positions. The greatest thing about this, however, is not any of my abilities to lead, but to always give back. One of the life lessons that I live my life by, that I got from the EOYDC, is that while uplifting ourselves we must always lend a hand to those who have succeeded before us and another hand behind us to our younger brothers and sisters who need our help. Giving back is essential for the development of any community.

Khyri Knowles

University of Arizona, Psychology

Canyon State Academy, Coach Counselor


My Name is Khyri Knowles and I am 23 years old. I went to De La Salle High School in Concord, California. I have my associate’s degree and currently working to finish my BA in Psychology at the University of Arizona while working full time at Canyon State Academy (a boys correctional facility) as a Coach Counselor in Phoenix, Arizona.


When I first became a part of the EOYDC family/organization, I was given the opportunity to be a youth leader during the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program (SCEP) in 2009. Being in the EOYDC environment has given me the motivation to strive for my life goals and to recognize the importance of leadership.


My success mission has been difficult to comprehend. Being away from my family was very hard for me when I first left California to get an education in Tucson, Arizona. Coming from a single parent, low income home, I had to learn to be the man of my house at a young age. I played football for the University of Arizona for two years before transferring to Northern Arizona University for a year. I was a preferred walk-on student athlete coming out of high school, meaning I did not have a scholarship initially. So it was a real struggle for me to pay for college coming straight out of high school and having to deal with college football politics. Throughout my struggle to look for a scholarship, so that I could continue to get an education, I started to make music. I use music to get me through any problems I have in life.


My main priority at this point in my life is to finish my degree and to continue to help others using the field of psychology. My passion for working with kids and motivating others to strive for their life goals, started at EOYDC. Now working as a coach counselor at a boys correctional facility, I carry those same traits of motivating the troubled youth at my job.

Nick Mazur

San Jose State University, PhD Candidate and Learning Specialist


When considering the impact of the EOYDC on my life, I feel that trying to describe the impact of the East Oakland Youth Development Center institution is a little like asking a fish to explain the water in which it swims; for me the East Oakland Youth Development Center has been an all-encompassing, life changing experience, as the people and the experiences have often served as axioms in my life from which I can draw on the most significant life lessons. While I could discuss a particular moment that took place at the EOYDC as an example of the lessons learned, for my first blog I will begin by simply stating that the EOYDC has served in changing my perspective on my life as the member of a community. While each of us has a specific role to play in the community, the EOYDC has offered me a perspective on leadership which I have continued to apply in my role as a community member. Most people who decide to serve, begin with the question, “If I serve, what will service do for me?” After working at the East Oakland Youth Development Center and being a part of that community, I instead reverse the question and ask, “If I do not serve, what with happen to them?” While I have gained numerous lessons from the Center, it has been this sense of duty and obligation to the community that I find the most impactful.

Cameron Parker

California State University, Chico, Applied Computer Graphics


My name is Cameron Parker and I am currently attending Chico State with a major in Applied Computer Graphics. I have been with EOYDC for about six years now. EOYDC has done more than just help me out in school but out of school as well. Though I started off coming by regularly once I moved to college, everyone has been nothing but supportive with what I am doing with my life. I am currently involved with a few opportunities in Chico, working with music artists and producers, clothing companies, and other small companies in the area. We have been trying to collectively make a movement to help our nation be themselves and not stick to stereotypes and trends. Since I have gone to college, I have come back for 2 years to show support during the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program to make sure I give back and help the younger generation excel. I think this is one of the most important times to help because the summer program truly lets the kids be themselves while the older youth can help teach and guide them. EOYDC has just helped be a foundation of support in my life and I’m more than appreciative of what everyone I’ve met has taught me.

Adarious Payton

DePaul University, Economics


My name is Adarious Payton and I am a graduating senior at DePaul University majoring in Economics and Policy Analysis with a minor in Community Service Studies. I was born and raised in Oakland, CA and have been involved with the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) since I was a freshman in High School. I was a student at Bishop O’ Dowd, and during my tenure there I got involved with EOYDC as a result of O’ Dowd’s service learning curriculum. What started as just an after school tutoring activity, eventually blossomed into one of the most impactful experiences in my life. From a volunteer to a youth leader to eventually serving as the Director of the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program, I learned some of the most critical life-skills lessons I’ve learned to date because of my involvement with EOYDC.


Those experiences were invaluable but they were not the only things of substance that I gained. As a student leader amongst my peers I was afforded the opportunity to visit many of the Ivy League institutions in America because I was able to attend a college tour sponsored by one of the Oakland Raiders. I was also afforded the opportunity to visit the White House, Capitol Hill, and have conversations with Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, the sister of President Barack Obama – another opportunity that would not have been afforded to me had I not been involved with EOYDC.


Toward the end of my tenure as a student leader at EOYDC, I made what I consider my most valuable contributions to my community. In the Fall of 2009 I was prepared to complete the last task a Boy Scout has to complete to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. In order to receive such a prestigious honor a scout must complete a service project organized by them that has an immediate impact on the community in which they serve. I decided to re-carpet the GED classroom at EOYDC because I knew the aesthetic of the classroom is imperative to foster a healthy learning environment. At the end of the project I was extremely satisfied because I organized something tangible that had lasting impact on the EOYDC community.


Even today, I still reflect on the lessons learned at EOYDC. Without these experiences, I am certain that I would not have successfully made it to my senior year of college. Through the tireless efforts of Ms. Regina and other senior staff members, I learned the importance of commitment, integrity, loyalty, punctuality, and persistence. As mentioned previously, these lessons were invaluable to me because I didn’t receive this type of tough love anywhere else. During my collegiate years, the career mission of EOYDC has transcended to my life as a student and my extra-curricular activities. I have been involved on the executive level of the Black Student Union, awarded a community service scholarship, selected to lead a student leadership retreat, while simultaneously serving on the National Board of Directors of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. I say this all because EOYDC taught me to not sit around idly but to be proactive in my pursuits aide those in need. In short, that means I need to be “Part of the Solution”. Upon graduation I will be continuing my education at DePaul University and getting my Masters in Economics. I plan to go to school part-time while working as an entry level economic analyst for the State of Illinois.

Brandon Vonderwerth

McClymonds High School, Graduating Senior

Think China 2013, Delegate


I love EOYDC, and I talk about it all the time! I am proud to be a part of the family. I’ve always been a fan of meeting people, despite the fact that I am naturally shy and don’t step outside of my comfort zone often. Going to EOYDC and meeting the people I know now is amazing! Joining Pathway to College and Career (PTC2) opened my eyes to opportunities. I know that every Thursday, someone will sit down with me, and help me, advise me so that I’m doing the right thing. When I apply to a college, I have a purpose for applying to that school.


Freshman and sophomore year, everything was bad – bad grades, bad attitude. If you were to tell me that a year later I would be given the opportunity to prepare to travel the world and represent my city and my country, I wouldn’t have believed it.


When I was nominated to be a delegate for the Inaugural Northern California Delegation of the China-United States Exchange Foundation (Think China 2013), I was an underachiever, but not a failure. Being given the opportunity along with all the expectations of pre-leader training gave me the chance I needed to prove myself. I love history and watch the History Channel every day. I will probably major in history. But, I never thought I would ever travel outside of the country.


Even though in the Bay Area we are exposed to Asian people, you don’t really see the culture. Surrounded by the people in Beijing was different.  We learned about their contributions like gunpowder, and the enlightened thinkers. They kickstarted a lot of what we use today.


My whole world changed when I met EOYDC. Meeting staff who help me, learning from alumni who guide me, it’s all great.  Today, I am more confident, I have good options for college. I have presented my learning outcomes to the Oakland Unified School District Board of Education, my Congresswoman Barbara Lee and my Mayor Jean Quan, business leaders, friends and family. Recently, I went to San Francisco to make a presentation for Black History Month. It  turns out that the audience  was made up of employees from the United States Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Because of my experiences, I am so much more polished and ready for success. Thanks EOYDC!

Allen Williams, II

University of Southern California, Political Science, and Politics, Philosophy and Law


People always say that it takes a village to raise a child. My life is the cornerstone of being raised by a village. From the time that I met Ms. Regina Jackson and was exposed to EOYDC my life began to change. The EOYDC community has inspired me to strive not only to do well but also to be excellent. From my first summer internship to my first college roommate Ms. Regina has always been there to guide me as a mentor and life coach. EOYDC was my support system when my parents took jobs in Southern California at the end of my sophomore year of high school. Now if you had told me that a 16 year old barely able to drive and work was able to support themselves on their own, you would be lying. It was Ms. Regina and my longtime track Coach Curtis Taylor who helped me stay focused and stable during this unfamiliar time in my life. Without the Center I would not have graduated from Bishop O’Dowd High School and matriculated on to USC.


Currently I am a member of the USC track and field team where I run 110-meter hurdles and triple jump. I was initiated into Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated in the spring of 2013 where I hold two offices: Keeper of Records and Seals and Chaplain for the Slammin’ Lambda Chapter (Los Angeles Citywide Undergraduate Chapter). I am a member of the Black Student Association and regularly participate in Project of My Dreams mentoring program where I go to local high schools in Los Angeles and mentor high school kids. As a freshman I became a member of the Trojan Athletic Senate and was formerly the Co-President and this year I am serving as the Director of Recruitment and Retention. I have represented the University at the National Conference against Drugs and Alcohol and served as a conference liaison for the Trojan Athletic Senate to help advocate for student athletes at the PAC 12 Conference level and nationally to ensure that the best conditions are met at not only USC’s campus but every campus in the Pacific Athletic conference. I sing in the Saved By Grace Gospel Choir and The Trojan Men (USC’s All Male Acapella group) where I was the publicist.


I am double majoring in Political Science, and Politics, Philosophy and Law to prepare for law school after law school I will become a Congressman. EOYDC was and will always be home for me regardless of which city I reside. The center changed my outlook on life and what I believed I could achieve. Originally I was never going to apply to a college like USC because I thought it was too great of an aspiration. It was upon Ms. Regina’s encouragement and the supportive atmosphere of the Center especially the Pathway to College and Career (PTC2) program that enabled me to have the confidence to apply. I would not be the man I am today without each and every soul that walked through EOYDC during my high school years. It is amazing what a person can do with the right support. Ms. Regina has done an amazing job training me for leadership. Time will only tell what will happen in the future but I know with what the center has given me I am off to a great start.

Major Williams, III

Marquette University, Political Science/Government


My name is Major Williams, III and I am now a senior at Marquette University anticipating graduation in May 2014 with a BS in Political Science/Government. It is crucial that I express my gratitude to the East Oakland Youth Development Center for nurturing my abilities and allowing for me to continue reaching my full potential. Being an Oakland native, I have been a first-hand witness to the crime and illicit activity that have plagued the community. The EOYDC, located in the heart of East Oakland, strives to create an atmosphere for Oakland youth where we can cultivate our skills and talents to better prepare ourselves for future success. The EOYDC has been a blessing for me to be apart of and I look forward to working with the organization continually to help ensure that youth and adolescents will continue to be given the same opportunities as myself.


Throughout my four years at Marquette, I have been blessed with multiple opportunities that have further advanced my intellectual capacity. I interned for retired Wisconsin senator Herb Kohl in Washington, DC. I was a part of a South African excursion where I effectively conducted cross-cultural communication based on global social issues. I have also been involved in campus government at Marquette University.


Upon graduation, I am expecting to intern for the California State Government in a 10-month program called the Capital Fellows Program. Here I will become acclimated with the Executive Branch of Government and potentially become a full time employee. My long-term goal is to establish a non-profit organization in the Bay Area focusing on leadership building and athletic training. At this point in my life, I am beginning to realize that I can accomplish feats that in my past may have seemed unattainable. As I continue to grow intellectually and spiritually, I have expressed admiration of Michael Jordan’s hall of fame induction speech closing statement where he says, “Never say never because limits, like fears, are often an illusion,” I try to encompass this outlook and hope that myself along with many EOYDC members will continue to strive for the unimaginable.


Andre Ammons

Track and Field Coach, Nutrition and Fitness Professional


I was introduced to EOYDC my senior year of high school when I became a part of their track team. At this time, I had less than a 2.0 GPA and one of the requirements of being on the track team was maintaining a 3.0 GPA. EOYDC provided academic support that was needed to maintain a 3.2 GPA throughout my senior year of high school. Before EOYDC, I had no intentions on going to college, however being a part of the track team and the academic support I received gave me a new outlook on my future and education. In 1997 I graduated from Skyline High School, went to City College of San Francisco for two years, and then transferred to the University of Southern California with a full scholarship.  Throughout college I maintained a 3.5 GPA and while at the University of Southern California I became a Pac-10 Champion and 4 time All American & competed in the Olympic trials. Many years later, I am still an active member of EOYDC as mentor and assistant track coach.


My experience and involvement  with the many exceptional works of the EOYDC has helped shape who I am today. Currently I have several health, nutrition and fitness education programs of my own for the community.

Timious Hines

AA Mic Truck Driver

National Guard Reserves


Some of my best memories are of the summer program at EOYDC. We had so much fun three years in a row. My sister and I grew up doing art, and so many other programs that kept us off the street and in a safe space. During the school year, I remember Ms. Regina would get on us when we weren’t doing anything and tell us to go to a program. I got to participate in the IDA savings plan in the Pathway to College and Career (PTC2) program. I appreciate all the opportunities EOYDC gave me.


Since 2010, I have been in the National Guard Reserves. Some of my assignments are border patrol between Mexico and Texas. We do surveillance to counter drug patrol and trafficking. Even though I am in Texas, I don’t forget about being from Oakland and staying on 64th Avenue.


I always believed in giving back, so last year I started writing checks to the Center. I want to pay it forward so that other kids can do something positive with their lives.

Seanta Johnson

Sprint, Technical Support T2 Coordinator


My name is Seanta Johnson. I first started working at EOYDC when I was 18, after my first year at Morehouse College, working with the summer program as Assistant Director and Director for of the Summer Program. I really enjoyed working for EOYDC. I learned a lot of lessons and skills that were very helpful with my transition into adult life and I met a lot of new friends that I am still in constant contact with today. When I first saw Regina in “work mode” I was like wow she is very strict, but I soon realized that it was all for the best. Her goal was to teach learned behaviors that you can take with you and instill to any other position that you may have in life. In college, I was a member of the Track and Field team from ’99-‘01 I volunteered at a local high school working with special needs children, and as a assistant physical therapist on the football team. One day while walking back to my dorm after practice, I was stopped by an older gentlemen because he recognized my purple EOYDC t-shirt and started asking questions about how things were going and if his old contacts were still there. I graduated from Morehouse College in 2001 with a B.A. in Health and Physical Education. After college I was an assistant coach for my high school track team (Hayward High), working with the shot put and discus throwers. I moved back to Atlanta in 2005 and continued to stay in contact with the Center. I assisted with EOYDC’s college campus tour in Atlanta with Nnamdi Asomugha.


I currently work for Sprint as a Technical Support T2 Coordinator. I thank EOYDC for all the lessons I’ve learned and friends I’ve made, and wouldn’t trade anything in the world for it.

Randell King

Consolidated Printers, Journeyman Pressman


My story begins in a dysfunctional home. My dad was killed when I was three. Mom struggled with drugs. After bouncing from foster home to home, I began living with my grandmother who lived on 83rd avenue. At age 13, following recovery from a car accident and release from wheelchair confinement, I walked into EOYDC looking for something to do.

Several years later, at age 16, I had the experience that would change my life. I signed up for the HOPE VI Beautification project funded through the US Housing and Urban Development Department. HOPE VI was designed to provide tools in so that youth could learn beautification skills like painting, anti-graffiti, soil testing and gardening so that we could improve the housing authority areas that we live in and around. This project lasted for three years. In addition, we learned leadership and computer skills, some members on my team also took GED classes to complete their education. I remember thinking that the computer learning experience was huge. None of us had computers at home yet, we were participating in regular classes to develop confidence and competence. Based upon my hard work, I moved into leadership of my HOPE VI team. We did big clean ups in San Antonio Park,  and 85th Village. We led the first community clean up that spanned from 82nd to 98th Avenue, we had more than 100 youth participate. We became polished speakers, presenting at Housing Authority openings and for Oakland Housing Authority staff.

I remember feeling really special, because we were doing work to build our community and we received a lot of support. We created planter boxes and planted flowers that were placed inside 69th Village. We were even given a room at EOYDC, we cleaned it up, and spent days thinking about how we would add artistically to create a mural. To be given a room that we could transform based upon our own personal artistry was major!

That’s how EOYDC invested in us. We grew as a team and were more like a family. We even got together on weekends because we enjoyed hanging out together. I remember when Desmond Howard of the Oakland Raiders came and donated $10,000 worth of Tommy Hilfiger wear. We led the effort to distribute the clothes to kids. A lot of the time, when opportunities come to improve areas, you aren’t contributing where you come from. This project was all about giving in our communities. We even participated in a Outward Bound experience, 22 days away from everything we knew. Meeting different people from all walks of life and literally depending on each other for everything. That stretched me and made me better for it.


The comradery that HOPE VI taught me was amazing. As different people came into the program everyone was greeted with genuine respect because we always felt like family. I also remember that we shot a video documenting our experiences that was sent to the Secretary of HUD. After that experience, leadership was part of who I was. I had a lot more confidence in myself which increased following my graduation from Skyline High School in 1998. Later, my jobs at Blockbuster and warehouse jobs included a leadership role.


I met my wife in 2000, and we have a son with a dual diagnosis of Autism and down syndrome. I worked hard on the job. Everyday I wanted to quit, but I knew I had to provide for my wife and son. After two years I moved to a feeder position at work. I am learning to be the best father I can be. Having a special needs child is a different kind of challenge. We bought a home in Tracy, CA and my family has grown to three children. Earlier this week, I received the promotion I have been waiting for – Journeyman Pressman. This came following a long schedule of graveyard shifts.

I AM SO HAPPY. I love my family and my new work role. I never thought I would be so fortunate.

I stay connected to EOYDC and Ms Regina. I believe in what’s happening at EOYDC. It is exciting to be at a Warriors game and see EOYDC on the jumbotron. I talk to everyone about EOYDC. EOYDC will always be my family.

Mark A. McGee

State Certified Journeyman Electrician


I became a part of EOYDC’s summer mentoring program at 15 years old. I had an opportunity to tutor, coach, and teach kids how to play the drums. EOYDC gave me an employment opportunity which I will always remember and be grateful for because it was my first real Job! EOYDC is the foundation on how I present myself as a professional in the workforce today.


Prior to completing my apprenticeship program I attended Castlemont High School (graduating in 2003), then Immediately enrolled into Chabot College in Hayward not really knowing what I wanted to do or major In. I started my major in Music for two years because I played the drums very well and I wanted to do music for a living. After two years of being at Chabot College trying to finish up classes for my Music major, I decided to change my major to Electrical Engineering. So I started over in my career and had to take a lot of math and science classes. These classes were not easy but I stayed with it, and seek out help from tutors, friends, classmates, study partners, and Youtube tutorials. So after being at Chabot College for three more years in my Electrical Engineering career, It was announced that I had a son on the way due in January, 2009. So I graduated with an AS ( Associates In Science) Degree, I put college on pause, and immediately took advantage of a once in a life time opportunity to be sponsored by an electrical contractor named Lonnie Hillman from Western Pacific Technologies, who has been a member of the Associated Builders and Contractors training program for many years.


I started my career as an electrical apprentice in August 2008, with an electrical training school called Associated Builders and Contractors. This apprenticeship training program required students to commit to five years in being dispatched to various electrical contractors, who provide 8,000 hours of on the job training, and pay apprentices prevailing wage enforced by California Department of Apprenticeship Division and Standards. In addition to the five year commitment, apprentices have to attend ABC’s classes and laboratory training for two weeks each year. I want to give Glory to my Lord and Savior Jesus who allowed my dad, Alvin James McGee, to teach me this electrical trade at age 10. I’ve been wiring houses with my dad from age 10 until his death on December 6, 2013.


Future Goals: I plan on also getting my Electrical Contractor License, going back to school to get a masters degree in Electrical Engineering. I’m Interested in applying to San Jose State University’s Electrical Engineering program, and I want to become an electrical instructor and teach youth that might be interested in this trade.





Andre Aikins

Alive and Free, Operations Manager


It was by a chance run in with my best friend at the time on 73rd that led me to the doors of EOYDC. He was on his way to a GED class and I decided to accompany him out of curiosity. Once there I immediately felt an environment that was conducive for learning and encouraging. The instructor Thomas Simmons allowed me to sit in and participate in the class as if I was enrolled. So I began to show up to the class everyday until he pulled me to the side and asked why was I there? I replied, that I had no other place to go and saw this as an opportunity. He then allowed me to enroll officially in the class, and soon after I received my GED.


With that small bit of success and opportunity from the Omega Boys Club, I found myself attending Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia. Eventually I would go on to receive B.S. in Math Education from Grambling State University and become a 7th grade math teacher at Frick Middle School in East Oakland. A few years later I became an Assistant Principal at Frick and later Madison Middle School. Currently I am the Operations Manager for Alive & Free, overseeing the daily operations, programs, instructing Alive & Free classes for various entities, and consulting. Oddly, my life’s work is now providing the opportunity and recourse for young people in order for them to be Alive & Free and educated, which East Oakland Youth Development Center assisted me with. It was the first step in building my capacity, skill sets, confidence, self-esteem, cultural awareness, and the responsibility to make a difference in my community. For this I will always be eternally thankful and look to repay by helping others or paying it forward with good deeds of kindness.


Andre’ Lee Aikins.

Calvin Andrews

BDA Sports Management, Senior Vice President


I first joined EOYDC through an adult league. I was 21 looking for competition, a good run, an intimate environment and fun.


Later,  I returned to EOYDC as an AAU coach. I would bring my teams to play in tournaments. EOYDC provided a good opportunity my kids to play against other kids across the city. The Mark Curry Classic provided a comfortable, competitive environment. It feels good coming to EOYDC, and I always feel welcome.


Now that I am a professional in the sports industry, I have the opportunity to act as a mentor and role model. Through my AAU coaching, I dealt with a lot of kids from East Oakland. I often speak on panels and in schools, and other career related workshops. The messages I share are these: Don’t let things distract you, set a goal and work toward it every day.


We all know that the EOYDC is surrounded by a lot of distractions. I preach education so that school can be the path toward success.


Although I have not been to the Center in awhile, I have had the pleasure of staying engaged through  its alumni, newsletters, and social media. I am extremely proud of what EOYDC has accomplished, the types of individuals that are produced, and the tremendous amount of kids that are sent to college. I am proud to be part of this legacy!

Damion Baltrip

TRU Barber Styles, Barber


Hi, my name is Damion Baltrip, I have been a member of EOYDC for over 20 years. I had a great experience growing up on 82nd Avenue, and if it wasn’t for the great things the had to offer, I don’t  know where I would be right now. I am a original member. I previously helped paint the building, even inspire the people who work at the youth center, including: Vincent Moore, Jimi Evins, Regina Jackson, and Sister Linda just to name a few. I will never forget a particular moment. I was shooting around in the gym with two of my friends. Chris Webber came in the gym and sat in the bleachers. One of us threw him the ball, and he nailed two shots off the backboard – swish! He was just a rookie then.


Mark Curry was a big part of our Center, and it was always great seeing him at the Center and on TV. If you want to take your children to a safe place where they can develop respect, and leadership, take them to EOYDC. This is coming from a person that’s now a successful barber with a family. You can do it, too!

Franklin Hysten

Hysten Consulting, CEO


Back in 1992, I was a 16 year old at Castlemont High School when I started in the East Oakland Fighting Back program, a project of EOYDC. As a youth ambassador, I had the opportunity to help put on a week long leadership camp. The goal was to address drug abuse. This resonated with me based upon some of my own household experiences.


This was my first job, my first office environment. I remember Chance and Cheers, encouraging young people to be smart about choices; visual arts, team builders and fitness activities in the gym. I experienced my first site visit with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The exciting thing was  that it immediately opened my eyes to social justice work. It was the first time I saw myself as a leader. From that point on, I tried to put myself in places where decisions were being made. I made a commitment to myself that I didn’t want my sisters to experience what I did growing up.


Later, I joined the planning group for Oakland Child and Health Safety Initiative which became “Safe Passages.” I worked in AmeriCorps and in the first year of OFCY “Measure K” I served as youth chairperson.


I reconnected with EOYDC when I worked in a fellowship at the East Bay Community Foundation where I learned grant making and philanthropy. In 2006, I served as Director for McClymonds High School’s Youth and Family Center. Once again, I worked alongside EOYDC in the East Bay College Access Network (EBCAN). During this time we had the highest completion rate for FAFSA in the entire district. in 2012, in partnership with another EOYDC alumnus, Kevin Taylor (who served as principal for McClymonds), we joined forces to select students for the Inaugural Northern California Delegation of the China-United States Exchange Foundation (Think China 2013).


Over and over, my work keeps me close to EOYDC and I love it!

Michael Johnson

Real Estate Investment Entrepreneur


Although I grew up in Oakland, having attended Highland, Elmhurst and Castlemont schools, we moved away in 1976. Imagine my surprise, when my family moved back and I discovered EOYDC! You see in 1978 with Proposition 13, schools and communities were impacted and things haven’t been the same since.


When my family relocated to their house on 84th Avenue, I was attending UCLA and excited to see a vibrant, bustling in the middle of the “Kill Zone”. I remember that the Interdenominational Church created a league and most games were held at EOYDC. I wanted to help, so in 1988, 1989 and 1990, I helped to create a Run Against Drugs which was designed to raise money for EOYDC programs. I’m happy to report that we first raised $10,000 and as it grew, we raised $25,000.


These days I am married and am an entrepreneur focused on real estate investments. My son, Jordan and a host of nieces and nephews also attended EOYDC. They all participated in karate taught by Herbert Hall. Last year, I found myself back at EOYDC attending Morehouse Parent Council meetings. My son, along with other EOYDC students, attends Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. The Center is still a strong support system for families. Watching the excellent programming and activities brings back precious memories. I am glad to be reconnected and look forward to all that comes with it!

Joseph Larkin

Corpus Christi Realty, Broker/Owner


My name is Joseph Larkin. I am a 26 year alumni member of EOYDC.  I served in Project JOY under the leadership of Craig Ramos. Project JOY gave me a head start in life over some of my neighborhood homies from 79th and 80th  Avenues.  I knew as a 17 / 18 year old black male I wanted more out of life than to “post up” on East 14th (now called International Blvd).

I learned skills such as how to compile a resume, how to interview for a job, how to dress for success among other things.  It was extremely fun hanging out with others from different neighborhoods in East Oakland.

They even provided job leads and I not only got a job, but I got TWO jobs!!!  I worked the late night shift at Jack in the Box on 77th Ave and I worked in the morning for an African American owned family run business called Athena Credit & Collections Agency on MacArthur.

This laid the foundation for my success:

a.       I went on to college at an HBC Philander Smith College.

b.      I then enrolled in the U.S. Navy for 6 years.

c.       I returned home to Oakland in 1988.

d.     I served as a Commissioner on the Alameda County Veteran Affairs Commission for 10 years and currently serve on the Consumer Affairs Commission.

e.       I served as President of Associated Real Property Brokers, Inc. (ARPB) the oldest African American Real Estate Trade Association in America striving for fair housing and democracy in housing and serving on panels before government municipalities such as City of Oakland, County of Alameda, Congressperson Barbara Lee, Mayor Ron Dellums, former Secretary of HUD Alfonso Jackson, Congressional Black Caucus and countless other non profit organizations such as Open Door Mission, True Vine Misssionary Baptist Church and NID Housing Counseling Agency to name a few.

f.       Today I own Corpus Christi Realty; Connection Lending Source, CD-ROM Home Counseling Ministry and JL Financial Solutions, LLC respectively.

g.      I serve as a mentor to young males and females like me from the flatlands and handling their business.

Special Thanks to EOYDC for help laying the foundation for my success.

Alvin May

General Surgery/Bariatric Surgical Specialty

Private Practice


I grew up in east Oakland. My grandmother lived across the street from EOYDC. My brother and I started through the karate class with Mr. Hall. Mr. Hall made a tremendous impact on the both of us. We were taught discipline and a sense that every success is a journey. The belt ascension from white to yellow to green, and so on were also lessons for life. It underscored that everything is a process. You must be diligent and serious about what you’re doing. Mr Hall taught us martial arts skills, but probably more importantly he taught us about control and restraint.  There is power knowing how to do something, but self-control ultimately determines your success or failure.


I left EOYDC when started high school and high school sports in San Francisco. I attended Lick-Wilmerding High School through the A Better Chance program. It was geographically challenging to continue studying martial arts when everything else I did was centered in San Francisco. I graduated high school and attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. They had tremendous program and track record for sending students of color to graduate school.  There, I was part of The Meyerhoff Scholarship program whose mission was to increase the number of African American graduates with professional degrees.  It’s not where you start out, but where you end up and University of Maryland-Baltimore County helped me develop a tremendous foundation. During college I was able to study abroad. I spent a summer in Lancaster, England doing basic science research on Ovarian Cancer. I also spent a semester at Brandeis University because I wanted to experience a more traditional school environment while studying for my bachelors of science.


I received my Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology graduating Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. After graduating, I attended Harvard Medical School. I received my MD in 2005 with an interest in surgery. In 2011, I graduated from residency at Boston University specializing in General Surgery. After eleven years in Boston, I moved back to California with my wife and daughter.

As I look back on the mentors in my life, there is a definitely a recurring theme of Black men, like Mr. Hall, showing me how to carry myself, succeed, and give back. In my youth I was a Eagle Scout, active in youth ministry at Beth Eden church, and involved at EOYDC. In all those experiences there were Black men showing me how to me a Black man, and how to succeed.  Because of that I have a strong desire to be present to help show kids that dreams can become reality when you approach life the right way.


During 2013 Thanksgiving weekend, I returned to visit EOYDC. I was inspired by the renovation and expansion plans. My nieces and nephews now attend programs there. Even though I am growing a practice in Los Angeles, and starting a young family, the narrative is live and reconnection has been made. I will continue to support the center’s legacy of excellent programs and will be committed to helping out wherever I can.

Tim Pierce

Professional Player

Saudi Arabia


East Oakland Youth Development Center aka EOYDC. When I hear that name, I feel accomplished and successful. Growing up in Oakland, I came through EOYDC for great opportunities to be around good people and play in great tournaments that were held there. The EOYDC family made me a better person, so anytime I’m asked to give back, I will. I enjoyed speaking to the kids two summers ago during the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program. I shared my experience overseas and growing up in Oakland. We had a great time together!

James Williams

Horizon Beverage Company, Director of Sales and Marketing


I’ve always been so grateful to the organization that has made me the person that I am with all of the successes that has come with it. The year was 1978, I was the middle child of eight, unsure of myself and clearly headed down the wrong path due to my association and actions. But that same year the Center opened its doors and changed my life. It taught me how to be a productive citizen in my community. It taught me hard work, and leadership as well as self-respect, and the value of education. I owe so much to them and definitely share some of my fondest memories with the EOYDC.


I currently live in Suisun, California, and serve as the Director of Sales and Marketing at Horizon Beverage Company – an Oakland based company, responsible for roughly $94MIL in sales annually. The values that I have taken from my experiences with EOYDC have served me well through the years, and continue to be with me every day of my life. With so many unsuccessful stories of young African American males that never find their way, it is organizations like this that make a difference, and I have always been truly grateful to have been touched by it as with so many others.

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