Zoom Cares provided a grant to Oakland Kids First (OKF), a nonprofit that partners with low-income, Black, Latine, and Asian youth to organize for equitable public schools in Oakland, CA. Learn more about OKF and Zoom Cares below.
Oakland Kids First (OKF) is a community-based organization in Oakland, CA that empowers young people to develop their leadership, reimagine broken systems, and organize campaigns for equitable public schools.
Founded in 1995 as a coalition of multi-racial youth engagement and community-based groups, the Kids First coalition successfully fought to develop and pass Measure K: Kids First! Oakland Children’s Trust Fund, which created what is now 3% of funding set aside in the city budget for programs and services for Oakland youth. This fund has since distributed over $200 million to Oakland youth organizations. OKF was designated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2002 and deepened its commitment to fighting for economic inclusion, youth engagement, and racial equity in the city of Oakland.
OKF believes students are the experts of their own experience, and therefore, are equipped to evaluate, innovate, and govern the institutions that are in place to serve them. OKF has empowered low-income students of color in Oakland for 27+ years by fighting for educational equity and racial justice through positive youth leadership development programs and youth organizing campaigns.
“We are impacted by systems and deserve a say in how they’re run. ‘We are the future’ is something we hear often, yet we aren’t given the attention or resources to set in motion the changes we want to see. We are not just the future, we are the present.”Ixchel Arista, OKF Youth Organizing Council
OKF & Zoom Cares
To fund programming and curriculum development, OKF is leveraging a grant from Zoom Cares to offer youth training and leadership programming at five public high school campuses in Oakland. Through these schools, the organization partners with 120 core youth leaders who in turn engage more than 4,000 additional students through educational equity campaigns that cultivate belonging, build power, and improve learning conditions.
How OKF Delivers Impact
OKF’s youth leaders are perceived in the community as powerful advocates for equity, inclusion, and racial justice. Not only do they break barriers, but they implement real change. In the last few years, OKF leaders led a successful campaign to expand the district’s Free Supper program that provides healthy after-school meals to 3,700 low-income students per day by securing a $3.6 million grant through the City of Oakland. This grant helped the Oakland Unified School District complete its new central kitchen, allowing them to provide over 800,000 meals to Oakland students and families during COVID-19 through community organizations like Oakland Kids First.
OKF youth leaders recently made history by co-authoring Oakland Youth Vote legislation, and campaigning for the historic passage of Measure QQ during a global pandemic. Measure QQ successfully expanded the voting age to include 16- and 17-year-olds in Oakland school board elections, fundamentally expanding local democracy to be more inclusive of – and accountable to – Oakland youth. Looking ahead, student organizers are developing a Student Justice Platform and registering, educating, and mobilizing new voters in the hopes that Measure QQ will be implemented ahead of the November 2022 U.S. midterm elections.
“We are impacted by systems and deserve a say in how they’re run. ‘We are the future’ is something we hear often, yet we aren’t given the attention or resources to set in motion the changes we want to see. We are not just the future, we are the present.”
— Ixchel Arista, OKF Youth Organizing Council