our mission

Our Mission

Our mission is to transform East Oakland into a healthy and economically robust community by developing the leadership of youth and young adults and improving the systems that impact them.

Located in the heart of East Oakland, YU is a neighborhood hub offering young people services and programs to increase physical and mental wellbeing, community connection, educational attainment, and career achievement among youth members.

…But delivering services is not our only goal.

Youth UpRising (YU) envisions a healthy and economically robust East Oakland powered by the leadership of youth and young adults as well as improvements in systems and environments that impact them. Our primary focus is building a systems change and community economic development platform that supports and strengthens our personal transformation work.


Theory of Change

We believe that if we provide youth with relevant services and programs, meaningful engagement with caring adults, and opportunities to practice leadership—they will become change agents and contributors to a healthy, thriving community.

This formula for change maintains that healthy, involved people can influence policy and ultimately create healthier, safer, and economically robust communities. It recognizes that youth are inherently resilient and that risk can be reduced with the right set of supports, services and opportunities.


Leadership Team

Olis Simmons
President & CEO

John Payne
Chief Financial Officer

Sharon Brown
Senior Director of Operations

Joan Benoit
Director of Fund Development

Courtney Willing
Director of Programs

Dr. Eugene Hightower
Director of Health and Wellness

Aida Mariam
Director of Community Leadership

 

The Board

Angela Glover Blackwell
President & CEO, PolicyLink

James Harris
Board President, Oakland Unified School District

Malo Hutson
Assistant Professor, University of California, Berkeley

Melissa Jones
Executive Director, Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative

Iris Merriouns
Chief of Staff, City of Oakland

Nate Miley
District 4, Alameda County Board of Supervisors

Laurence (Larry) E. Reid
District 7, Oakland City Council

Rhonda Simmons
Director of Workforce Development, San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development

Lateefah Simon
Program Director, Rosenberg Foundation

Mike Taigman
Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore