Youth-Led Participatory Action Research (YPAR)

Oakland has experienced a lot of change in recent years. While the city has seen the growth of new restaurants and tourist attractions, it has also seen an increase in rent prices and resident displacement. Oakland has even been termed "the Brooklyn by the Bay" because of the stark effects of gentrification throughout the city's neighborhoods. How do Oakland residents feel about this change? Well, a group of high school seniors employed through Youth UpRising's summer employment program conducted research to answer that question. The Youth-Led Participatory Action Research (YPAR) project focused on housing, and it gave the students an opportunity to create their own surveys and go out into the community to collect responses. The students' reasons for joining the research team varied, but they all shared a personal connection to the issue:


"We're all from the community ... We can see that housing and mortgage is influencing the type of people coming into these communities. We can see that people are getting kicked out. We wanted to know what were the things making people leave and what were the challenges they were facing." - Miriam

"I have an aunt who is facing these problems. Her landlord keeps increasing her rent." - Olivia

"I'm from here and I care about Oakland so I got informed about the issue and wanted to be part of it." - Chaz


Though the students are Oakland natives, they still managed to learn a lot about their community through the project:


"In the news, when they broadcast it, they say people don't care about the community, but people are being pushed out. They do care." - Daejona

"I was surprised that if given the chance to relocate, most people (52%) said they wouldn't." - Jasmine


The students hope that the results of the research will leave a long-lasting impact on the community, and they plan to contribute to this impact in any way they can:


"I always knew I wanted to be involved in helping the community. I want to be active in community protests, meetings, things like that, to contribute to real progress and change. I hope that this research can serve as a voice for the community, and hopefully we could see it bring change." - Chaz

"There are so many people who said they don't have a voice, don't want to vote, or aren't taking the initiative and using the resources they have. We should change that. This experience showed me that I love public speaking, and I want to have an impact through teaching - teaching through my life" - Daejona

"I hope that some of the information will be given to people who have the resources to provide services to the community, and that people can learn the process of owning a home or retaining the property that they have." - Miriam


All of the students involved in this project are college-bound and plan to devote their time to majors in sociology, communications, nursing, business, and more. We're excited to see the change that these young people create as they continue to pursue their passions.

See the results of their research here.

Accessing Higher Education Town Hall

On August 9th 2016, Youth UpRising partnered with Peralta Colleges to host a town hall on the accessibility of higher education in our East Oakland community. Chancellor Jowel Laguerre discussed the various academic opportunities available at the four Peralta colleges, and specifically highlighted Merritt College's cyber-security program. The program trains students in solutions to cyber crimes such as cyber hacks, identity theft, and more. With the increased demand for cyber-security, the program is a great option for young people looking to get an additional certification. Most importantly, the program at Merritt caters to young people who face significant barriers to education: credit attainment time is shorter, science and math requirements are limited, and paid internships are readily available. We look forward to building our continued partnership with Peralta Colleges in order to achieve greater educational attainment in our community!

UniverSoul Circus' Your Life Matters Show

For two weeks prior to the show, YU’s arts group worked on completing a youth-designed mural for UniverSoul Circus, an Atlanta-based circus production that has performed all over the world. UniverSoul Circus requested this collaborative art piece to be prominently displayed by the entrance for their “Your Life Matters Show,” which took place here in Oakland on March 18th.

In total, twenty-two youth artists participated in the design and completion of the mural. The mural featured an elephant, a tiger, circus tents and a clown holding a sign that welcomed guests to “The Town,” as residents affectionately call Oakland. UniverSoul circus was generous enough to provide YU with free tickets for all of the contributing artists as well as discount prices for YU affiliates.

Claire, the staff member who oversaw the design and painting process, commented on how important it was for youth to see their work displayed at the entrance of the circus. These youth had the opportunity to build skills related to teamwork and moving a project to completion as well as engage UniverSoul Circus staff. Claire noted how good it felt to witness her youth enjoy the show and be kids. A couple of our artists had the chance to bring younger siblings or their parents.

YU staff member, Hannah, who helped bring youth to the show shared, “Our young people need to be really tough to survive the systemic injustices so many of them are faced with. Many of our youth have had to grow up too fast. It is so great when our teens get an opportunity to let it all go and just act like a kid and that's definitely what happened at the UniverSoul Circus. The young people were up dancing and laughing and gasping with awe as acrobats and daredevils flew through the air!”

It was fabulous to have a group of young students of color be inspired by professional artists and performers of color from around the world!

FPAF's 11th Annual Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Salute to Excellence Awards

Youth UpRising was invited to attend the FPAF's 11th Annual Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Salute to Excellence Awards this past Thursday, February 4th at 5:00PM at the JW Marriott in San Francisco. The Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation promotes diversity and equality of job opportunity within coaching, front office staffing and scouting in the National Football League through networking and mentoring opportunities as well as education and advocacy around rules and practices that foster diversity. 

We were excited to be a part of an event honoring diversity in athletic leadership and highlighting excellence in its many forms. Two of our staff members, Hannah and Shakeea, along with six of our youth who are members of our after school program and Castlemont High School's football team, had the opportunity to attend. Adam, John-Paul, Jeremiah, Dakari, Darren and Will had the opportunity to meet Hall of Fame Linebacker, Harry Carson, Head Football Coach at Stanford University, David Shaw as well as a coach with Laney College and a scout with the 49ers.

At first, much of the excitement came from eating delicious sliders and drinking unlimited soda, but then, our staff witnessed true interest in what was being said about the accomplishments of people of color within coaching, ownership and administration of the NFL. Event attendees were also primarily people of color. Staff reflected on what a positive experience it was for our youth to see individuals who look like them dressed up, eating “fancy appetizers” and being honored. Of course, such a scene should be the norm, but unfortunately, highlighting the accomplishments of people of color is not a common sight. On the contrary, our young people often see black and brown people portrayed negatively in public and in the media via trite stereotypes. It was great for the students to be exposed to a different atmosphere than what they are often surrounded by in East Oakland and witness the recognition of successful people who look like them.

Our After School Coordinator within Career & Education, Hannah, shared that one of her biggest highlights was seeing Jim Brown and learning more about his story, his connection to Malcolm X and his role in the fight for social justice. We are excited our youth had the opportunity to practice networking, hear from NFL leaders and the officiates for Super Bowl 50 and enjoy an evening out in San Francisco.

Community Resource Fair

On Friday, January 29th from 2:00pm to 5:00pm, Youth UpRising held a community resource fair in partnership with over twenty-five community organizations and government agencies.

Our theme, Educate, Empower and Elevate, reflects our goal to raise awareness of opportunities and resources for individuals and families in order to support their transformation through education, employment and capacity building. There are an abundance of committed individuals working toward social justice, providing social services and helping to foster healthy communities; we are committed to providing the space for our collective efforts to have the greatest reach possible. Community transformation results from personal transformation and committed bodies working together.

Along with multi-colored signs and yellow and purple balloons, our team set up booths in YU's "living room," dance studio and screening room. One of our members, Jonathan, volunteered to wave down cars and encourage people on the sidewalk to come in. We organized stations according to type of service or area of focus and then stepped back to let each organization’s representatives engage the community.

Over seventy-five community members including young people and children came out to connect with the different resources and sources of support that are available to them. Upon entering and signing up, each person was given a raffle ticket. Three lucky winners received either a Clipper card with $30 credit, a $15 Starbucks gift card or a $25 card for gas.

Community Bank of the Bay featured an app called “Thrive 'N' Shine” –a free financial education game that families could try out and then download on the spot if they liked it. A father and son were sitting together and playing, which prompted the son to ask, "What is a bill?" His question sparked a whole conversation about money and responsibility. We are excited that the event helped create moments like these and happy to hear community members found representatives and staff to be friendly and hospitable. On their way out, one family commented, “That was terrific, really helpful, you should keep doing more.” We plan on it!

Thank you to all of our partners who helped make this event possible: Alameda County Club Moms, Alameda County Food Bank Alameda County Healthy Start Initiative (ACHSI), Alameda County Public Health Emergency, AmeriCorps, Bananas Inc., Bank of the Bay, Bay Area Legal Aid, Best Babies Zone, Black Infant Health, Daughters without Dads, East Bay Community Law Center, Causa Justa/Just Cause, La Familia Counseling, Mind Blown Labs, Oakland Public Library, Office of Dental Health, Oracle, Parent Voices Oakland, Prop 47, Room to Bloom, Family Resource Center, Roots, Safeway, Spectrum Community Services, Tru Connect, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland Medical Clinic, YMCA Headstart and YU Balance.

We hope our efforts facilitated greater connection between resource providers, educators, community organizers and community members. YouthUprising is dedicated to community transformation powered through youth leadership.