Through creative expression, young people hone their ability to communicate, acquire cultural literacy, gain industry knowledge, and, most importantly, develop their voice as community leaders. YU gives youth the opportunity to articulate their experiences and express their creativity through fine arts instruction, multimedia production, and performing arts.

The 3,600 sq. ft. Media Arts Center features three vocal/engineering set-ups, a live music room, four video finishing rooms, and a fully equipped computer lab. The 950 sq. ft. Dance Studio features a sprung hardwood floor and floor-to-ceiling mirrors, and the 1,500 sq. ft. Moroccan Soul Living Room features an indoor/outdoor amphitheater. YU’s campus is a regional venue, hosting public events that regularly attract attendees from all over the Bay Area.


Reflecting Oakland’s long history as a trendsetting music hub, YU offers a variety of music and recording-arts instruction that take advantage of youths’ love of hip-hop and R&B to engage them in marketable skill-building activities.

YU’s Music programs include training in:

  • Studio recording and engineering
  • Radio and club DJing
  • Microphone skills and vocal coaching
  • Music and lyrical composition
  • Beginning and advanced piano

Performing Arts

Performing Arts at YU is a space of kinetic energy and uninhibited creativity. Performances allow youth to express themselves physically and poetically, and offer much-needed release from the stress of living in high-crime, low-income environments. Events showcase youth talent and help them build professional skills in event planning and production, stage management, and soundboard engineering.

On the third Fridays of every month at “Free Style Fridays” youth rappers, dancers, singers, poets, and musicians come together “clean and conscious, ‘cause we build our community up, not down” to make music and share their talents.

Video/Film Production

Our video program enables youth to capture the character and vitality of East Oakland through the stories of those who live there. Student work is primarily nonfiction, chronicling youth views and experiences while addressing emerging social issues. Youth learn camera, lighting, sound, video editing, and graphics and titling effects. Youth write, direct, produce, edit, and distribute their work with the help of YU Digital Media staff. Several youth pieces have won awards and the YU YouTube Channel has had over 1.8 million unique hits.

Visual Art

YU’s Visual Art workshops integrate fine arts with training in applied digital arts to enable youth to develop vocational skills as well as a professional portfolio of their work.

Offerings include:

  • Beginning and Advanced Studio Art
  • Digital Photography
  • Graphic Design
  • Web Design