Collaborating with Oakland Community Organizations to Ignite Social Change

Oakland has always been an epicenter for social change in the US and those roots are reflected in Citizen Schools apprenticeships. We've partnered with community organizations who, among many things, use near peer mentoring, student-led discussion, and explorations of Oakland neighborhoods and cultural sites to build civic-minded leaders within our student body - and address relevant social issues such as violence prevention, discrimination and injustice.

When asked about partnering with local organizations, Teaching Fellow, Garrett Wheeler says,  “these partnerships empower our youth to carry forward the legacy of progress and leadership that defines their city. They grant students the opportunity to explore and learn about where they are from, which builds a sense of pride they can communicate.”

New this year are relationships with Urban Youth Ambassadors (UYA) and 18 Reasons.

UYA’s mission to increase exposure, access, and representation of youth from diverse backgrounds in international careers and leadership opportunities. At the middle school level, the curriculum focuses on local history and culture with multiple field trips to important Oakland sites. After the first trip, students work together to identify the most valuable future explorations for their class. UYA’s founder, Aries Jordan is an Oakland native and firmly believes that travel and cultural exposure has the power to “ignite a passion for social change.” Wheeler noted, “prior to UYA, students would describe Oakland as dirty or unsafe. Now I believe their understanding has shifted.”

18 Reasons describes itself as a community cooking program, empowering people to eat well every day. Part of the way they do this is through youth “Cooking Matters” classes, where students learn about everything from nutrition to food justice through creating and cooking real recipes each week. They are then encouraged to bring both the principles they’ve learned and the food home to their families. In places like East Oakland, which is a food desert, the Cooking Matters program helps students and families find ways around this lack of access so they can still eat and afford good food. On top of the social change this program instills, Citizen Schools loves working with 18 Reasons because many students who don’t engage with other parts of our program love to chop, stir, fry and bake all the amazing creations available during cooking.