City of Oakland logoThe City of Oakland was awarded a $5,896,000 #CaliforniansForAll Youth Jobs Corps grant from California Volunteers, Office of the Governor for its Oakland Forward program.

Oakland Forward is a year-round youth and young adult employment program for individuals aged 16 to 30 to increase employment and develop public service career pathways in the areas of climate resilience and public safety.

“Thanks to the support of Governor Newsom and California Volunteers, hundreds of young Oaklanders will receive employment and on-the-job training while improving Oakland’s climate resilience and public safety,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “These new summer job programs will also nurture future public servants by creating pathways to careers at the City of Oakland.”

Beyond addressing high unemployment rates among young adults, the program will also help the City address the pressing challenges of racial disparities in employment opportunities and neighborhood blight.

“The #CaliforniansForAll Youth Jobs Corps is a win for our young people, the City of Oakland and the state of California,” said Josh Fryday, California Chief Service Officer. “California is investing in underserved youth and bringing people together in service to uplift our communities.”

Part of the funding will help young people prepare for stable careers in public service as they tackle community, environmental and safety issues through placements with the Department of Violence Prevention, Oakland Public Works and the Oakland Police Department.

Six community nonprofit organizations are also partners in the program, including:

Civicorps, Lao Family Community Development, Rising Sun Center for Opportunity, Safe Passages, The Spanish Speaking Unity Council and the Youth Employment Partnership.

Partners will focus recruitment on Oakland residents in East Oakland, Fruitvale, and West Oakland residing in zip codes 94621, 94603,94605, 94601, and 94607 and prioritize Black and Latinx youth and young adults to address critical disparities in employment access as identified by the City of Oakland’s Department of Race and Equity.

The goal is to provide year-round and/or summer employment opportunities for approximately 500 individuals by May 2024.

Individual Partner Programs

Civicorps’ Conservation Career Pathways Program is a year-round, work-based learning program providing high-impact paid job training, college, and career readiness preparation, and wrap round support services to youth, age 18 to 26, who are disconnected from college and employment opportunities. Youth develop their professional skills and complete their high school education as they train for careers that protect the environment. Through paid job training and exposure to careers in conservation, youth prepare for employment opportunities within an emerging green economy.

The Moving Oakland Youth Forward Program is an expansion component of Lao Family Community Development’s successful Out-of-School Youth Program and Environmental Science Remediation Management program that will create and expand the employment, education, economic and health opportunities for participants ages 16 to 30 with a focus on “clean and green” year-round and summer employment opportunities in the public and private sector. This will promote climate resilience and improve neighborhood conditions in the priority neighborhoods of East 12th St., Central/Fruitvale, Eastmont and Coliseum areas.

Climate Careers offers young leaders the opportunity to gain paid, hands-on work experience while taking climate action. Through Rising Sun’s social enterprise model, youth from low-income households provide Green House Calls – energy efficiency and water conservation services and education – at no-cost to their communities, improving local climate resilience and saving residents money. Professional development workshops and coaching round out the summer, transitioning into more robust career exploration during paid, fall-term externships with partnered hosts.

The Safe Passages Community Stewardship Workforce Project will address barriers to youth employment through academic and career support, resource navigation, trauma-informed coaching and counseling, and work experience training and placement for low-income, predominately African American and Latinx multilingual youth, ages 16 to 24. The project will pair youth participants with Life and Career Coaches who will guide and advocate for youth development in workforce readiness, secondary and post-secondary education. Participants will learn skills and experience and build a job-ready portfolio to prepare for job seeking, applying, and placement in public sector industries focused on city beautification and revitalization through murals, arts, graffiti abatement, and other environmental justice projects.

The Unity Council’s (TUC) year-round Oakland Forward program will deliver a series of environmental/green-focused job training, community projects, and work experience for 100 BIPOC youth and young adults (ages 16 to 30) in Oakland. Programming will include:

  • Roots of Success U.S. Department of Labor Registered Pre-Apprenticeship program that leads to an Environmental Specialist certification and preparation to work in sectors of the green economy;
  • Stipend-based, flexible school year exploratory community resilience projects; and
  • job readiness training and placement in summer internships and jobs.

The Youth Employment Partnership’s Oakland Forward project takes two approaches to beautify Oakland while enhancing public safety and increasing climate resiliency:

  • Summer city cleanup and illegal dumping hotspot abatement, neighborhood beautification, and environmental stewardship, and
  • Year-round neighborhood beautification, street safety, and quality of life improvements

This partner will launch new, year-round workforce training program to improve city streets, block-by-block, through neighborhood beautification, landscaping, and illegal dumping abatement projects in high priority areas, along with traffic safety improvements on Oakland High Injury Network streets-in alignment with the city’s Safe Oakland Streets initiative. Young adults will work in crews to enhance pedestrian, cyclist, and driver safety, by creating high visibility cross walks and speed bumps, installing traffic calming circles with drought resilient vegetation, and building hardened centerlines to reduce left-turn speeds. Crews will also engage in dumping abatement and cleanup, as well as painting, construction, landscaping, and other blight beautification tasks in these high-need neighborhood blocks.

Through the Oakland Forward program, Workforce Development staff are also working closely with Department of Violence Prevention (DVP), Oakland Public Works (OPW) and the Oakland Police Department (OPD) to increase employment opportunities for young people ages 16-30. Funding support will go towards salary for 10 OPD cadets, a pilot training and employment program for OPW that supports new positions with their Safety and Training department, and an estimated 20 youth positions in DVP through their Career Exploration and Education programming. Success of these investments will support expansion of these efforts to other City departments in the upcoming year.