When people, particularly youth, cannot find work, they are more likely to engage in street crime and turn to the street economy to make money.  In East Oakland:

  • 24% of residents live below poverty level.
  • Unemployment rates exceed 50% in some areas.
  • Latino families in East Oakland are of mixed immigration status, making employment all the more difficult to secure.
  • 33% of residents are on some form of public assistance, which is more than three times the county average.


YU is committed to transforming the lives of young people by equipping them with the skills, training and experience they need to become self-sufficient and productive members of society. Our efforts have culminated in the creation of four social enterprises: 

  1. YU Count (data entry/analysis)
  2. YU Work (janitorial/construction)
  3. YU Eat/Corners Café (catering/food service)
  4. YU Create (media arts)  

We have also partnered with the Workforce Investment Board and the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program to provide employment opportunities for underserved youth.

Moving Forward

For more than ten years, YU has been evolving as a model that holds personal transformation, systems change, and community economic development as the path to community transformation. We believe services alone will not move a community out of poverty. Intentional efforts to develop the local economy are necessary to yield significant tangible results.  

In partnership with strong leadership committed to equity and place-based work, we believe the timing is ideal to launch a coordinated community economic development strategy for the the Castlemont Census Tract 4097 in order to:

  1. Direct the flow of private and public capital towards creating community assets and wealth
  2. Increase long-term labor force attachment by building education, workforce and job creation strategies that allign with market trends

Our goal is to place youth into high-demand living-wage employment. We strive to align the community we serve with jobs that serve them. We are working to expand access to such employment opportunities with a targeted focus on sectors that are ripe for future growth (i.e. healthcare). Occupations within the allied health sector (i.e. home health aides, medical assistants, dental assistants) will experience the fastest growth in Alameda County between 2008 and 2018. We intend to leverage our partnership with Children’s Hospital of Oakland to build a pool of qualified healthcare workers, and work with healthcare employers and local colleges to improve employment opportunities and career paths for Oakland youth.

Click here to learn more about this vision moving forward.