Powerful Men of EOYDC IV
We greet every youth that enters our doors with the message, “we expect you to succeed, we need you to succeed, we will help you succeed”. We provide a foundation for character building which requires youth and young adults to respect themselves so that they can respect others. EOYDC provides a safe environment with structure and discipline so that students can begin to trust themselves and others. We offer experiences to explore athletics, art, education, careers through classes, workshops, field trips, and service.
EOYDC’s culture and structure provide a transformational incubator, where are young people are able to progress from survival mode to success.
Role models like Golden State Warrior, Stephen Curry — who epitomize the importance of having a strong character and a spiritual foundation — are excellent examples of what is possible. Recently, he donated his MVP car to EOYDC. He has demonstrated excellence in athletics and leadership on the court as well as in the community. Through his Thanksgiving food giveaways, Splash Brother basketball camps, and other events, our youth see first hand what a man of color can achieve and the impact of giving back. Sometimes these exposures serve as their first examples of excellence and facilitate the self-reflection of their own potential.
Pathway to College and Career participants recently traveled to Washington DC on the first ever Southwest Airlines sponsored My Brother’s Keeper College Tour. The six young men are high school freshman and sophomores from the Oakland Unified School District, the San Leandro School District, University of Islam Muhammad School, and home school environments. During their visit, they participated in a briefing where they were able to share barriers to post secondary education and improved quality of life. Khalilah Harris, Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, referred to our young scholars as “eloquent”. These experiences reflect the skill sets and qualities that EOYDC cultivates which are inclusive of leadership, communication skills, initiative and perseverance; tools that every man of color needs to thrive.
Pictured from left to right: Regina Jackson, EOYDC President & CEO; Bilal Shabazz, Age 14; Carlon Jackson, Age 14; Cota Ward, Age 15; Barry Brand, Age 16; Langston Scott Muhammad, Age 15; Khalilah Harris, White House Deputy Director; Davon Carroll, Age 14.
We have developed a long-standing partnership with UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health to further explore issues of interest and concern. We believe in celebrating our students as the subject matter experts of their own experience and find this process of self-exploration to be an informative learning experience. One of the methods our students have used is participatory action research. This year, we worked with Stephanie Fong, a UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program student to engage in this research. Stephanie designed “The Portrait Project: Identity Formation Among Young Men of Color in East Oakland”. Thirteen students ranging in age from 18–24 participated. This research project was selected for presentation at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting(APHA)held in Chicago. Jamal Rasheed, graduating senior from Morehouse College and EOYDC Alumni, served as Stephanie’s co-presenter.
The young men featured in “ The Portrait Project” include:
Andrew Morris, Agyei Wallace, Kyle Robinson, David Thomas, Edwin Manzano, Jamal Rasheed, Frederic Frierson, Brent Bell, Samuel Carter, Thomas Logwood, Alden Nelson and Gabriel Silvers.
These young men are powerful examples of outstanding men who represent EOYDC well. Below, please learn more about the young men featured in this installation of “Powerful Men of EOYDC”!
Yale University, Sociology
My name is Akintunde Ahmad, and I am currently a sophomore at Yale University studying sociology. I am the Solidarity Chair for the Yale Black Men’s Union, a peer liaison for the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale, a member of the board of the Black Solidarity Conference, a campus ambassador for Jopwell, and a former member of the Yale Varsity Baseball Team.
As an East Oakland native, I grew up being involved with the EOYDC through basketball tournaments and the annual Kwanzaa celebrations held there. I lived just a few blocks away, and seeing the progress the center has made is amazing. So many legends have come through this center and east Oakland in general, so my generation has big shoes to fill. I have been fortunate to be connected to Aaron Goodwin and learn from the greats like him, and it is our duty to go out in the world and return to our home communities and invest in them in the same way they have. From sports, to academics, to social life, the EOYDC has served as a hub for young people of color in our community to really excel and uplift others who come from similar backgrounds, and I am grateful for this center’s existence.
This past August, I had the opportunity to participate in the Brotherhood Across America program, where East Oakland natives who are future, current, and graduated scholars shared narratives about their collegiate experiences and mentored the next generation of college bound students. In Oakland, we depend upon each other for the pressure to excel, and this event demonstrated just how influential people from my hometown can be when it comes to offering advice and being role models for others to pursue higher education.
While Oakland is often stereotyped as being violent and crime-ridden, the EOYDC represents all that is positive and productive that comes from our homegrown roots, and it deserves to be uplifted and praised. After I graduate from Yale, I plan to pursue a law degree or a joint masters in business and public policy. I want to play a major role in reforming the public school education system, which will inevitably play a large role in reforming the criminal justice system as well. My end goal is to return to Oakland and serve as its mayor, so that I can implement more programming into our city, using the EOYDC as a model of what effective youth centers should look like.
University of Great Falls, Business Law
East Oakland Youth Development Center has always been known in the North Bay and all of Oakland as a mecca where opportunity has endless possibilities for youth. EOYDC has been a part of my life since I was about 11 years old up to now. My first ever contact with the center, I attended a workshop there on how students can apply themselves to get into great high schools. The program walked through things such as simple studying habits and test taking for school entrance exams. After I attended the seminar, many different opportunities came from just attending a free class. EOYDC has been a pillar of support preparing me for life, my educational career — but most importantly — my career after school. EOYDC is able to cater to anyone who is willing to work who comes through the doors. They have excellent resources, such as the GED Program, Pathway to College and Careers, classes on various subjects, English, Math, and even culinary classes.
Being a part of EOYDC has personally given me so many advantages in life. However, one experience that sticks out to me the most was the PTC college tour. My freshman year of High School I earned the opportunity to be on the Asomugha College Tour. I was one of four students to experience the first ever college tour to Atlanta with NFL football player Nmandi Asomugha. We toured colleges such as Morehouse, Clark Atlanta University, Spelman, and all the tours were given by students who were all a part of the EOYDC community at one point. Over this week I was shown a world outside of Oakland and success by others who had a similar upbringing. I believe it was this college tour that resonated with me and made me want more for myself, to work hard, to stay humble, and most of all to stay hungry for success.
Since that College Tour I have achieved so much. I graduated from San Leandro High School in 2010. My freshman year of college I attended Wells College in Aurora New York then transferred to Santa Barbara. I am now receiving my undergraduate degree in Business Law at the University of Great Falls in Montana while maintaining a 3.3 GPA and being an active member of my lacrosse team. I have also been accepted to start Law School at Pepperdine University. I truly believe that in addition to the great parenting of my mom Valerie, that having a place where success is not only welcomed but expected in an environment like East Oakland, set the tone for me as a person, and more importantly, a future contributor to my community.
Sacramento State University, Sociology
My name is Andrew-Alejo Bell, and I am a first generation college graduate from Oakland. After receiving my Associates Degree from Chabot Junior College, I was encouraged from multiple sources to visit EOYDC. EOYDC helped me in many ways in the transition from a community college to a state school. The state school was completely foreign to me, however I learned a lot about what to expect, and what goals I should aim for by talking to multiple mentors at this facility. I received help in applying for financial aid, applying for scholarships, applying for housing, and even finding part-time work. This is definitely a one stop shop to make sure you are prepared for college; they helped me with pretty much everything. I must say I was completely satisfied with all the help I received.
EOYDC was not just about school and a place to find a job, it is also an incredibly positive place for Oakland youth to go to hangout and have some fun. I must say I was amazed by how such an awesome place is right in the middle of a high crime neighborhood in Oakland. As a young ambitious youngster EOYDC is where you go if you want to get your questions answered, and if you want to get connected. I met many people, not just college students but: retired athletes, head coaches, police officers, politicians, artists, and many more through all the activities that are available. The center helped me move forward in life, I really can’t think of anything about EOYDC that does not benefit you. Every time I entered the facility I received a lot of encouragement from my fellow peers. Most of the people are either in college or on their way to college, making it an amazing place to meet people who are doing something positive with their life. The staff at EOYDC made sure to invite me on trips to various places not just in California, but all across the United States of America. I have not been able to go on any trips because I was in school; however I am always amazed at how Ms. Regina brings together groups of young adults to see the world and experience things they might not have been able to.
Now that I have finished college, I am moving into adulthood in my life. I am about to start a career in something related to my major. The thing I like about EOYDC is that the help does not stop once you get a degree. There is always something to aim higher for in life and this place still does its best at helping you through transitions in life. I received contact information to professionals in various different fields through my mentors from EOYDC. The center truly encourages people to strive for the best in life, helping break down boundaries that might seem unbreakable, and helping young adults be the best men and women they can be. Thank You EOYDC.
Merritt College, Communications
My name is Blake Brown and I am currently in my second year as a Communications Major at Merritt College. After obtaining my Associates Degree in the spring, I plan on transferring to a four year University in the fall of 2016. I first started coming to EOYDC when I was about 8 years old and I would never want to leave because of how fun it was. I took a lot of pride in being apart of a small show that was taking place in the gym by Sister Linda Johnson. She used about 5 boys to play the drums while the girls danced in traditional African attire.
The many programs that EOYDC offered children was great. Children were able to express their creativity in art or ceramics, work up a sweat playing basketball, or being involved in dance, and helping them in the classroom with tutoring. EOYDC was an outlet for me, because growing up on 102nd there were a lot sideshows, shootouts, and drug dealing. I knew I did not want to be part of that and wanted to distance myself from those negative activities.
As I got older I stopped coming to EOYDC regularly but I was part of the EOYDC Track Club under Curtis Taylor. Training with Coach Curtis was fun and beneficial. I met a lot of great people who were also great athletes. When you are surrounded by talent, it pushes you to become better but also to work harder and that helped me in the long run. I’m currently ranked top 10 amongst California Junior Colleges in the triple jump.
I was also given the opportunity to be a Youth Leader in the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program also know as SCEP. It was really fun working with the kids and giving back to my community for all that it has done for me. Everyday I came in with a smile on my face to make each child feel comfortable and feel like they can always come back to EOYDC. Ms. Regina gave me some of the best advice on life and everything she had me do, was to better myself as a young adult. Without coming to EOYDC I don’t know where I would be right now, because at a young age it was planted in my head to become a responsible and mature young man as I am today.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Political Science
Hello my name is Bryce Bell and I am sophomore at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo studying political science with a focus in global relations.
I was first exposed to the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) when I was six years old. My mother brought my brother and I through those doors for summer program. The Summer Cultural Enrichment Program is program every summer for the youth ages five through fourteen, completely young adults or youth leaders. SCEP was the perfect place for my brother and I because it puts young people in leadership positions that prepares them to become leaders in the future. At a young age the idea of striving for greatness not just for you but also to possibly inspire those around, this is something I’ve seen everyday at EOYDC
Because of my participation with the summer program I had the opportunity to learn and be mentored by great youth leaders’ and could see myself being just like them when I became their age and as a youth leader at eoydc. When I was 15, I was able to take in all I learned in the 9 years of being in the SCEP program and apply to be a youth leader; this was my first job opportunity. After the first week of being a youth leader I realized that passion of working with kids to inspire them just like how I was when I was younger. Year after year and more kids knew my name or at least called me my brother’s name. Watching the kids that were there my first year working and now becoming youth leaders today is a feeling that cannot be recreated anywhere else other than EOYDC. After a few years of being a youth leader I become an instructor, first for history and then for the Wellness program. I plan to keep moving up in the SCEP program by being an assistant director or director in the close future.
Through coming to eoydc since I was six years old it became clear that obtaining a higher education was not an option for me, it was absolutely necessary. Because of being involved with eoydc I was able to go on two college tours, one to Washington DC and the other to New York City. In visiting some of the best universities in America such as Georgetown, NYU, George Washington, and Columbia young men from east Oakland were able to see themselves possibly across the county on a prestigious campus.
Even though I went to the east coast with EOYDC that was not the farthest they have taken me. In the summer of 2013 I was part of the first ever, Northern California delegation to China sponsored by Congresswomen Barbara Lee. Going half way around the world to learn about the culture, education, economy, government, and language is an experience that could have never seen possible without EOYDC. Running up the Great wall, seeing the Forbidden City, and studying at Beijing Foreign Studies University are just some of the many highlights I experienced on the trip.
In the past 14 summers a lot has changed. I have grown mentally and physically, changed schools, graduated 3 times, moved away from home, started college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo studying political science, I’ve became more of leader, a better friend, brother, mentor. However the obvious thing that hasn’t changed in these past 14 years is that every summer I’ve been at EOYDC, and I don’t see myself going anywhere else for a long time.
Columbia University, Political Science
I was introduced to Miss Regina and the EOYDC program while attending Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, California. Many of my classmates, colleagues, and close friends were already members of EOYDC, and from the outside looking in I immediately knew that it was a program that could benefit me tremendously in the long term. As a senior in high school, with the help of my parents I made the decision to attend Columbia University in the City of New York and play Varsity Football there as well. Interestingly enough, my relationship with EOYDC as well as the mentorship of Miss Regina only grew as I left for college. While away in college, I speak with Miss Regina often, regarding my future career and educational plans. She has referred me to professionals who are involved in fields that I have a strong interest in. When the EOYDC embarks on their college tour for high school students, I make sure to give a detailed tour of the Columbia University campus as well as Harlem neighborhood for Miss Regina and the high school students. College can be a difficult transition into adulthood, and even more pressures are put on students that are undergoing the college experience away from home and loved ones. I am always grateful to use my experiences and knowledge to help educate and prepare those younger than me, hoping that I can prepare them for the next phase of their educational journeys.
As a political Science major at Columbia, I have immersed myself in a variety of professional and intern experiences throughout my college career. I have interned and worked in public service, tech and social media development, law and legal affairs, and most recently politics. In September of 2014 I decided to take two semesters off in order to pursue interests in career fields I had not yet experienced. I was fortunate enough to work as the Deputy Campaign Manager and Volunteer Coordinator for Kevin Blackburn, a long time Oakland native, in his campaign for Oakland City Council member of District 2. It was a grueling job, full of excitement and new challenges daily, yet the success I gained from that have helped developed a strong interest in campaign staffing and management. I believe politics are the backbone of our nation, and electing the right public officials has to move to a priority in order to ensure the proper growth and development of our country. I am currently pursuing financial internships, and have every intention of graduating in June 2016.
After a recent program at EOYDC this past winter entitled the Brotherhood Across America event, I was awestruck by the overall intelligence and leadership that was displayed at the center. From high school students, to college graduates, and established professionals, advice was being handed out from every corner of the room. Events like that make me extremely thankful for everything Miss Regina has done for me as well as my brothers and sisters in Oakland. For every young African American student who is reluctant or nervous about the future, I encourage them to pursue education, and earn something that no one will ever be able to take from you, and do everything you can to earn that. Learn from your mistakes, because unfortunately we still currently live in a country where we are given less opportunities just because of the way we look. And finally, pursue what you love, and always remember the place you began, no matter where you end up.
Devin A. Cunningham
Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts, Acting
I first came to EOYDC in the summer of 2001. My mother signed my sister and myself up for the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program, SCEP for short, which is the summer program offered at the center. I remember coming to the center and being excited to be surrounded with kids who looked like me and shared the same curiosities that I did. I am still friends with a lot of the kids who started the program with me. The thing that is still imprinted in my head is my youth leaders. To this day, I still look up to the various youth leaders that I had when I was 9 and 10 years old. To see young people of color, because it was not just African-Americans but Mexican-Americans and Central Americans working and being productive pushed me to want to do the same so at the age of 14 I applied to become a Youth Leader. Upon receiving the job, I was filled with instant elation because I was about to become what I wanted to be, a Youth Leader. Being a youth leader was more than just a summer job, it was an opportunity to give youth real work experience without belittling them because of their age in the process. It served as a way for young people to help mentor children who hailed from their community. By being a youth leader, you got to share your life experiences with people who were coming up right behind you.
During my time as a youth leader with SCEP, I really understood the cultural aspect of the program. We worked with computers, art, music, creative writing, Spanish, etc. I was also learning more about my people and the surrounding Latino community. The programs gave me the opportunity to branch out and try things and not be afraid to take risk. In 2008, Jasmine Milan, another youth leader, and I came up with a new class, Drama. We felt that theater was imperative to the program because it is a part of our culture. We wanted to introduce kids to theater and share what it had to offer in the way of being another medium for them to escape whatever troubles they have.
If it were not for my youth leaders who influenced me to be me unapologetically, I would not be who I am today. It was because of my youth leaders I wanted to work with kids. It was because of my youth leaders and what they demonstrated that I decided to introduce a new class. It is because of my youth leaders, I am pursuing a career in acting. Seeing my youth leaders as adults such as Dominique Drakeford, Landon Hill, Dania Frink, and Selena Annette pushed me. Seeing the people that I admired as a kid, doing something with their life makes we strive to be a better person. It makes me want to keep going after what I want in this life so that when one of my kids, from when I was a youth leader, can feel the same way I do; proud to have been a part of the legacy of EOYDC and a product of someone from my community pushing me to be the best I can be. I currently attend Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts in Santa Maria, California where I study acting. I am a second year student and I plan to move to Chicago by the end of next year to pursue my career in acting.
Jordan T. Johnson
Morehouse College, Psychology
My name is Jordan T. Johnson, and I am a senior at Morehouse College, where I am studying psychology. I plan on being a personal trainer and mental skills coach for high school, collegiate and professional athletes in the NFL and NBA. I first came to the EOYDC as a kid to take karate. When I started playing football for the East Bay Warriors I wasn’t able to come as much as I liked. Throughout high school I went a few times but due to my cousin’s suicide I focused more on family and being a positive force in my community.
I wasn’t too sure what position I could be that positive force through sports because I stopped playing. So I chose to create a movement called “Promoting Positive” which promoted anything that was positive to the community since theirs a stigma about Oakland youth not being able to amount up to anything. That lasted until senior year in high school. Before transferring over to Morehouse College I attended Langston University in Oklahoma. While being there at Langston I started a Christian organization that focused on saving souls for Christ.
I decided to transfer over to Morehouse College because it was my dream school and I wanted to be part of the tradition Morehouse had. For my first two years at Morehouse I was really focused on figuring out my purpose. This led me to a once in a lifetime internship opportunity with the Golden State Warriors; where I was their first black intern. During that summer I had an array of responsibilities but primarily for the Warriors Foundation department where we provided community grants and refurbished basketball courts throughout the community. The internship taught me many things but it really gave me insight on where I wanted to focus my energy.
My parents were financing my education at Morehouse, then one academic year my parent’s experienced financial hardship, so I needed to find a job to finance myself. Unsuccessful after tons of interviews I realized I could finance myself by being my own boss, so I founded Jordan Tyler Fitness, LLC. I believe wholeheartedly this is the way I can spread positivity, in the mind, soul, and body of my clients. This is the way furthermore I know this will help or aid in my pursuit to become the best sports psychologists in the market. I just want to thank Ms. Regina for opening her arms and welcoming me as a member of the EOYDC family and lastly for her steadfast support of all of the youth in Oakland.
Hampton University, Business Management
My name is Hal McKinley and I am a senior Business Management undergraduate student at Hampton University.
I first came in contact with the EOYDC in a non-traditional way. I first met Ms. Regina and a few young EOYDC leaders on the annual Pathway to College Tour through EOYDC Hampton University students. While leading the West Pre-Alumni Council during my sophomore year at Hampton University, I heard of high school students from California coming for a tour and I wanted to meet them and share my experience throughout my own path to college as well as my life as a college student
I was excited to meet students and they were just as excited to meet me. I had a mouthful to share and I was given even greater feedback. My connection with EOYDC was exactly what I needed as I thought about all the things I did not know during my pathway to college and the need for mentorship in my own community. I have always been passionate about my own goals and making a lane for those behind me and that is exactly what the EOYDC does in the Oakland area.
Since then, I have made it a priority to be involved with the Pathway to College Tour and Brotherhood Across America the past three years. The EOYDC has supported me through scholarship and direction throughout my college journey. I have been able to reintroduce Brotherhood Across America to incoming Hampton students from the Oakland area annually, creating a greater connection between these students from the bay to VA. This initiative has also inspired activities such as the RRR initiative, a male tutoring and mentoring program co-founded by me and few of my brothers from Hampton University as well as the female focused initiative, Q.U.E.E.N. in the Hampton Roads area.
In spring of 2014, I was awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in Madrid, Spain. I would have never known about the scholarship without my EOYDC mentors. EOYDC has truly encouraged me by their concern for my future.
I graduated with my B.S. in Business Management in May of 2015 and I plan to continue my education by pursuing my MBA from ideally Georgia State University or Mercer University. As I continue to pray on my future, I can always look back and remember my purpose through the mission of EOYDC.
“Be your street’s light”- Matthew 5:14
San Francisco State University, Mandarin
My name is Kyle Ferguson. I am a Senior at San Francisco State University who just recently transferred from Cal State East Bay. I was originally a Mathematics major, but after my time as part of the Think China delegation, I really wanted to switch to Mandarin. EOYDC has given me one of the biggest opportunities of a lifetime. A chance to be a college mentor on the first “My Brothers Keeper” international expedition to China.
As an African American focused on educational excellence has prepared me for the tough road’s to come. They taught me the necessary steps it takes to be an achieving educated individual. Through My Brother’s Keeper( MBK), I learned so much, not only to be a better mentor,but to be a better person by having the extra patience to really put myself in other people’s shoes. Seeing other fellow members of the delegation do so well at other events is breathtaking to say the least. It really makes you want to continue to strive to achieve excellence. It makes me proud of something so monumental. I haven’t been in the program that long and already received an unfathomable amount of genuine care. I have already grown so much as a person.
To support myself in school I am a Substitute Teacher and a Teacher’s Assistant at Golden Oak Montessori and a Dock Worker for FedEx Freight in the evenings. I am also tutoring one day a week to help a child with food allergies learn in a healthier environment. I know first- hand that food allergies can be tough. Every opportunity to learn should be available. EOYDC has taught me to value education and to assist those in need.
Ms. Regina has welcomed me with open arms and shown me nothing but hospitality. I first came to EOYDC when I was entering my last year of college. At this time I was only aiming to get a minor in Mandarin. I also had not had the social networking exposure that EOYDC’s Brotherhood Across America provided. It was like a dream to be able to travel half way around the world with my new brothers. I didn’t know anyone at the beginning of our escapades. When we all returned to states, we returned heroes. We conquered the Great Wall together which was a long arduous journey. I would not be the man I am today if it wasn’t for the love a support given from Ms. Regina and the EOYDC. Reporting to officials of The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, and the Port of Oakland Commissioners showed me how much everyone is counting on us to lead.
I have learned so much in a short amount of time. I need to give back a piece of what was given to me. I plan to travel to multiple countries to teach internationally. The youth are our future and an opportunity toward education is a step in the right direction.
Grace University, Sports Psychology
Hello. I am LeRoy Anderson. I currently attend Grace University in Omaha Nebraska. I am pursuing my BA in Sports Psychology with a minor in Coaching. I am planning on becoming strength and conditioning trainer and coach when I am finished with school.
As kid growing up, EOYDC was a place where I could have fun, build relationships and mature as young adult. It is also because it is one of the places that would have a major impact on my basketball career. I first started going to EOYDC when I was 13. I would go on the days I got out of school early and go there just to hoop with the adults that would come at lunch time. Then I would stay just to hang out and help tutor some of the younger kids I ended up joining their fall basketball league building some great friendships. I ended up meeting Rico and he trained me throughout high school. He helped me get stronger and develop. Also being around him helped me mature. EOYDC has provided so many opportunities that you won’t have anywhere else. Through EOYDC I’ve had the opportunity to meet Gary Payton, Leon Powe, Nnamdi Asomugha, players that I look up to. I was part of the 2009 Gary Payton Invitational Championship team. EOYDC has had a tremendous impact on my life and has had a major role in the man I have become today. The opportunity to be able to be in an environment like the one EOYDC provides is a blessing and I believe anyone would benefit from being there.
Miles Sinclair Gordon
Hampton University, Political Science
Hello everyone, my name is Miles Sinclair Gordon and I am a senior political science major at Hampton University. All of my life, I have strived to achieve great feats and beat the odds by any means deemed necessary.
I am a late addition to the EOYDC family, but it has had no effect in the role they, more specifically, Ms. Regina Jackson has played in my life. Growing up in Oakland, California, sports have always played a major role in my life and personal development. Venues like EOYDC and other Oakland gyms/playgrounds have always served the purpose of keeping young individuals active and out-of-trouble. The East Oakland Youth Development Center is not only a revered safe-haven, but a blessing to those who were and are fortunate to be a part of the establishment. Not just a building, but a representation of what can come to fruition when you do the right thing, stay the course, and work hard and diligently.
EOYDC is such a remarkable establishment because it is deeply invested in the kids, teenagers, and young adults of the community. Oakland, California is blessed to have such an effective and devoted establishment that has set the standard for development of young people; I cannot reiterate how grateful I am to EOYDC for investing their time and resources into my personal development and success.
University of California, Santa Cruz, Sociology minoring in Education
Hello, I am Thomas Logwood. I am currently a sociology major that is minoring in education at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I am a junior year student here at UC Santa Cruz, aspiring to one day be able to go into the field of education administration. I hope to become a factor of change for the significantly under resourced and underfunded Oakland Unified School District, from which I am a product of.
My involvement with the EOYDC didn’t begin until my senior year of high school. The Pathway to College coordinator at the time, Ms. Jasmine, came to one of my classes to inform my class on the EOYDC’s Pathway to College program. When Ms. Jasmine first introduced herself as a worker for the EOYDC and told the class where the EOYDC was located, I was shocked. I had already knew of the huge building that she was speaking of that rested on the corner of 82nd and International.
The thing that shocked me was that I had passed by it countless times growing up, but the whole time I assumed the building was abandoned. That is why I find it so ironic every time I think about the center. I find it funny how I thought the EOYDC was abandoned. It is a place located in the heart of East Oakland that is filled with so much love and energy from the people who occupy it on the daily. After getting more and more involved with the EOYDC, I found out more and more about how wrong my assumption was and how I regret waiting until my senior year of high school to get involved.
Since my senior year of high school, my appreciation for the EOYDC has most definitely grown over time. I appreciate the friends and associates that I’ve met through the EOYDC. I’ve been a participant of the annual New York College Tour, an ambassador for UCSC through the Brotherhood Across America program, and a volunteer for the Portrait Project through EOYDC’s partnership with UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. With these accomplishments, I am appreciative of the way Ms. Regina and the rest of the EOYDC staff has worked to groom so many young professionals coming out of East Oakland, and how they have done so in such a nurturing way.
As a young Black man that has moved out of his hometown of Oakland to pursue this Bachelor of Arts degree at UC Santa Cruz, I have become more reflective. After a lot of reflection I have realized that I am representation of all that has come before me. I am a representation of my ancestors. I am a representation of my immediate family. I am a representation of Oakland California. With that being said, I am proud to say that I am also a representation of the East Oakland Youth Development Center and all that it stands for. I am proud to say that I am part of this network of young, powerful men and women that continues to grow for the betterment of ourselves as well as our shared Oakland community.
United States Air Force, Radio Frequency Technician Journeyman
2009, was my junior year in high school, with a mediocre athletic career and scholastic record to match. I had no self- discipline or drive, nor did I know what I wanted out of life; I wasn’t living, I was just existing. Then a close friend who I consider my brother invited me to come interview for a youth leader position at EOYDC. I agreed to try it out, but the day of, I was nervous and contemplated not attending the interview. But with the support from my family, I entered into the most uncomfortable hour of my life thus far. But, that was just the beginning of me being pushed to my limits. While working at EOYDC I was forced to come out of my shell. I did things that I would normally shy away from; speaking in front a gym full of people happened to be moment that sticks out the most for me. After the earning the job I was unsure about how I would fit in with my co-workers who already seemed to have great rapport with one another. In high school I did not necessarily have the highest level of self-esteem. I quickly learned that the EOYDC is a family, and if you stay true to yourself you will be accepted with no problem. That same year I was invited to go on a backpacking adventure with a few of my fellow youth leaders which was a learning experience in itself. The outdoors are a big part of my life so, I naturally flourished in that venue. But I was forgetting one thing, my team, being at the top is pointless if you are there without anyone to share it with. So, I had to pocket my pride and humble myself to help my group members complete the challenge at hand. Also, within that same year I was once again invited on another trip with the EOYDC. I was taken along with a group of Youth Leaders on a college tour to New York City. At this point in my life I still had not decided what I wanted to do after high school. The college tour really opened my eyes as to what it took to really thrive in college. I’m not saying College isn’t for me, but I am saying that I wasn’t ready for College at that time. It helped me to ultimately make the decision to join the military. And it turned out to be one of my greatest decisions of my life.
I worked as a Youth Leader for one more summer. Within those two summers as a youth leader I earned multiple awards for my leadership. When the summer ended I continued to work as a tutor, for the after school program, until I was shipped off to Basic Training. On March 15th 2011, I enlisted into the United States Air Force, to start a whole new learning experience. So I thought, granted I did learn many new things, the essential lessons Basic training is meant to teach such as leadership and teamwork. I had already learned from the short 2 years of being associated with the EOYDC. The leadership and teamwork skills I learned, eventually led to me being awarded The Air Force Achievement Medal for my work as a shift supervisor during my first tour of duty in the Middle East (Qatar). The many lessons I have learned while working and just being a part of the EOYDC family will stay with me for the rest of my life. I cannot begin to utter the words that explain how humbled and grateful I am to have had the opportunity to work for and be part of the family at The East Oakland Youth Development Center.
Halihl H. Guy
Le Cordon Bleu, Culinary Arts
My participation in the EOYDC program has been a great example of the program’s dedication to the success of their youth. When I first came here in high school, I wanted to join the track team. The EOYDC club is not only a program where I ran, but it taught me numerous valuable lessons: being on time, cooperation, communication and many more skills that help me in the professional world. Track was so tough that now I approach everything with more confidence and poise because I know that if I can get through the EOYDC track program, I can do anything. This place is like a family.
The EOYDC Program has given me the confidence to go farther and have hope for a better future. I now have the skills and knowledge to create a better life, not only for myself, but my 10-year old son as well. I am definitely glad to have been a part of this program and would recommend it to anyone else who has a desire for a positive change, who seeks knowledge, education, and better opportunities! With everything I have gained, I cannot wait to get out and start working and utilizing the skills I’ve learned at EOYDC to better myself and my life. I believe that the EOYDC program has been greatly beneficial to me since I first started my journey to becoming a Chef. My Youth Coordinator helped me a great deal in giving the information that I needed to be able to take the classes. I appreciate the counsel that she provided me to get the education I need. The program helped make it affordable for me to get to school. I also appreciate the effort of Mrs. Regina that took the time and initiative to help me in my endeavor to becoming a world renowned chef. They have truly helped me in getting a job. Service is something I feel like we should all do in life. It is fun and fulfilling, and that was confirmed by my time at EOYDC. Whatever I do, my focus will be on helping people make healthy choices to live a better life.
Miles C. Lathan
Oakland Parks and Recreation, Senior Manager
My first drum lesson came at the age of 8 and my first teacher was Elizabeth Hinteberger. My mother enrolled me in a summer program at Westlake Middle School where Elizabeth Hinteberger was teaching steel pans. Elizabeth asked my mother to take me to EOYDC for free drum lessons. My mother took me and I began learning steel pans. It appeared to her that I was a prodigy and ended up playing with the EOYDC band, Lay Down the Beat. As a member of the band I played at the opening of the new Federal building, at PG & E in San Francisco, Festival at the Lake, the Oakland Coliseum for an A’s game, Oakland Zoo, the Lake Merritt Hotel, and more. I played with the band until middle school.
When I started going to EOYDC, I was also in the Home Alone Cooking Class. I was one of the first students in the cooking classes. As a result, I am a very good cook.
Since then I have played drums professionally with different bands: Sonic Camouflage, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, Imani Community Church band, etc. I have played at Café Van Kleef, the Starry Plough, La Pena Cultural Center, the San Francisco Jail, the Paramount Theatre, at Yoshi’s Oakland, at Art’n’Soul, and numerous other venues. When the bronze statues “Remember Them” were unveiled in Uptown Oakland, I had the honor of playing in the band where Maya Angelou was in attendance. I have been playing for 22 years.
E.W. Wainwright of the African Roots of Jazz was my traps teacher. As his pupil, I had the pleasure of being the guest of Elvin Jones at one of his concerts. At Jazz Camp I studied with John Santos, Andy Narel, Eddie Marshall, Tootie Heath, Markus Shelby, Susan Moscarella, and more Bay Area musicians. One year I was invited to play at John Handy’s home for his birthday. For my mother’s 50th birthday, John Handy joined my trio and played four songs.
Five years ago I became one of the drummers for the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. For the last three years I have been the primary drummer for them. This summer in July we will be touring the Netherlands and Switzerland. We will be playing at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
I currently work for Oakland Parks and Recreation as a senior group leader, working with children in the after school program. I have worked there since 2005.
During high school I played on the soccer team at Skyline High School. I also played on a Bay Oaks select travelling soccer team during the soccer season throughout middle school and high school. I played soccer 12 years, from ages 6 to 18. Two summers during high school I played on a soccer team at Stanford University, which was coached by the Ireland brothers. While on this team we traveled to Europe twice: once to England where I played in Wimbley Stadium, and once to Central Europe.
In high school I competed three years straight in the Guitar Center Drum Off competition. I came in second, losing by ½ point. After graduating from Skyline High School, I attended San Francisco State University as a Music major. After one year, I left the department. Twice in the past five years I have travelled with the Imani Community Church to teach drums to children in Costa Rica. I have many recordings on Sound Cloud. My goal is to get my certificate in ProTools so I can work as a sound engineer in recording studios, continue to play professionally, and give private lessons.
Urban Artist/ Youth Soccer Coach
Anyone that has experienced the transformative magic that comes with joining the EOYDC family can attest that the experience is incredibly special and unique for each person that walks through those doors. It is an experience that stays with you long after your initial participation. A safe haven when you need a psychological tune up to get back on track and always a fountain of opportunity. A place where they are not afraid to let you know where you went wrong, build you back up from broken and send you off to ascension.
My personal experience started in when I was about 4 years old. It was 1994 and my mother had just accepted the position of executive director at the east Oakland youth development center. We arrived in the eoydc parking lot. We’d been there before but there was something different about this time, I suspected this Because we didn’t park in the usual temporary parking space. Instead, we parked in a spot with a sign above reading, “executive director”. Little did I know that this place would play a major role in my life for the next 21 years (and beyond). My years at the center are stuffed with positive memories and lessons learned. I will say my experience was rather unique and key to my development as a leader and team player. Being that my mother was the ED at this massive ghetto sanctuary I had to learn to be unselfish, understanding, and grateful. Unselfish and understanding in realizing the imperative role that my mother was playing in many of my peers and mentors lives and to not be jealous. As well as grateful for the level of comfort I was so blessed to return to at the end of each day.
For me the center was the place I first got to experiment with my talents and potential. I got to see what I was good at and given opportunities to pursue things I enjoyed. Many of the activities I first tried at the center, I still actively do today. Some examples are my love of cooking, which was originally sparked by the home alone cooking series. My lifelong relationship with art was seriously encouraged while growing up at the center, I remember creating sophisticated art projects like sports arenas. I remember creating ceramic fleets of fighter jets and participating in an African stone carving class as well as many hours honing my craft of illustration. Today I am proud to say I’m still at it. I consider myself an urban artist and have even served as a tattoo apprentice. I learned my love of sports from my first warrior games with “Antwan’s Army” (Antwan Jamison) the raiders games with the “pride, poise and academics” program and interactions with greats like Gary Payton, Desmond Howard as a young boy. I remember pretending to be those players, playing basketball and football at with my peers at the center. I am currently a very ambitious soccer coach and love every minute of what I do. In fact I’ve even incorporated the leadership skills I’ve learned at EOYDC, I guess you can say the center in many ways, helped shaped who I am, and I truly love that person.
Director of Music at Beth Eden Baptist Church
I had my first encounter with EOYDC as a high school student. I served as a counselor for the Summer Program where I had the opportunity to observe and assist in the development of several young people. It was my first formal opportunity to have an impact on a young person’s life. Throughout high school, I was fortunate enough to continue my partnership with EOYDC as I served as a homework instructor during my junior and senior year. In addition, I created a music class for young people to explore their creativity and find their passion. Ms. Regina was and is very influential in my life as she gave me my first job and provided me with many opportunities to develop as a young person. EOYDC was not only a place for me to volunteer and then ultimately work, but it was also a place for me to build relationships with many people. Some of my best friendships began at EOYDC and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I had to grow there in those formative years.
I have had the privilege to begin my career as a musician where I have had the opportunity to sing opera and musical theater roles with Opera UCLA, UCI Opera, University of Michigan Opera Theater, The International Lyric Academy in Rome and Viterbo, Pocket Opera, Waffle Opera, Island City Opera and Opera in the Ozarks. I look forward to expanding my repertoire, as I will sing in concerts in two upcoming performances with the San Mateo Masterworks Chorale and Orchestra in the spring.
I received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Michigan. Currently, I am the Director of Music at Beth Eden Baptist Church, the Assistant Director for the Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir, a private instructor for Vibo Music School and I hold a private voice studio.
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Bachelor’s of Fine Art — Painting
Hello, my name is Robert Grant; going to EOYDC changed my life.
As I youth I visited the center on and off because both of my older siblings were daily visitors/members. It was always a fun and safe place to play and learn, but I never really appreciated all the center had to offer. As I grew older and went on to high school I visited the center even less. I struggled quite a bit in the class room during high school, although it had little to do with my ability. I lacked the focus and discipline necessary to succeed in school and didn’t know how to sharpen these tools.
Eventually, I was forced to change high schools based on my performance in the class room. EOYDC came to the rescue. Both of my older siblings had already garnered full scholarships, one to UCLA and the other to Georgia Tech, and they told me EOYDC was the secret. The programs offered during the school year and even the summer taught me the tools I needed to reach my potential. I learned discipline and trained daily through the track program, and scored in the top 85th percentile on my SAT thanks to the SAT prep course offered.
Through hard work, and the tools the EOYDC taught me, I earned a Full Scholarship to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. There I played football and earned my BFA in Painting, before going on to play professional football for over 5 years. Upon retiring from pro football, I was able to live out my lifelong dream of becoming a professional fine artist. I have worked with world renowned artists, traveled the world, participated in countless shows, and have been published in numerous publications worldwide. None of this would have been possible without the East Oakland Youth Development Center and all of the great tools I learned there. With all of the blessings and help I received, I decided to give back. I have co-founded a non-profit called ArtSmart, with the mission to bring art education and appreciation back into the inner city. I have reconnected with EOYDC by showcasing artwork at the annual fundraiser, and by leading a new mural project as part of the New Era imagery for the center. I now have the opportunity to pass forward the lessons I learned.
Therence Lee James, Jr., MPH
Morehouse College ’12
Boston University School of Public Health ’14
Clinical Research Assistant at the UConn Health Center on Aging
Throughout my life, I have always had the privilege of being able to utilize nuggets of wisdom and experience from those around me. I was gifted with life lessons from my paternal grandfather as he shared stories about his travels and interactions with people from all over the world as a professional boxer and an army veteran. My mother’s guiding principle in life, one which I still live by today, is to make do with what you have, because that is always better than doing nothing. These combined with so many other examples have culminated into a lesson that has granted me the humility that I will live and die with, which is to always be proud of the foundation from which I come, but never stop tenaciously working to improve and build upon it. I do not think this principle could be better exemplified than through the work done at EOYDC. My appreciation goes beyond words as it has served as an incredible influence and motivator for achieving the goals I have set for myself and the communities I find myself in.
My introduction to “The Center” came a bit later than most. As an undergraduate student at Morehouse College, a close relative told me about a place doing incredible things for the youth of Oakland, by fostering education, athletics, leadership and social responsibility in a welcoming environment. Knowing this drew me to EOYDC because I have always had (and still do) the intention to develop a center with similar aspirations for youth often marginalized and undeserved due to social and political constructs. I had the opportunity to participate in the Brotherhood Across America event in which I served as a mentor for younger students in the process of bearing in mind the necessary steps they needed to take as they considered their prospective college careers. I also performed a spoken word piece highlighting the importance of giving back to those who have the shared experience of likely becoming another negative statistic. I have also utilized the college essay writing workshop which contributed immensely to my acceptance into 6 out of 6 Master of Public Health programs that I applied to. To say that the EOYDC has helped me attain the confidence and character necessary to endure under strenuous circumstances would be an absolute understatement.
EOYDC also helped me during the beginning of my graduate education at Boston University through the Something for Everyone event. I earned my Master of Public Health degree in May of 2014, while doing research on the social determinants of hospital re-admissions among low income populations and working as a discharge coordinator at the Boston Medical Center. I currently do policy research and data analysis at the UConn Health Center on Aging, focusing on the quality of life of individuals who receive services from state waiver programs due to their status as older adults or persons with disabilities (mental and physical). The purpose is to evaluate these programs to ensure that they are providing an adequate standard of living for these vulnerable populations, and if possible, aiding in the ultimate goal of allowing the recipients of these programs to live life independently again. I live to give, and to provide a voice for those all too often unheard and unacknowledged. A lesson learned through the accumulation of invaluable nuggets, and especially through the experience of witnessing the boundless possibilities exemplified by EOYDC.
Founder of ZoneService
It is a privilege to be able to reflect on my life because there are many who haven’t made it this far. I am very thankful and grateful to each person who took the time to convert my ignorance into knowledge over the course of my life. I grew up in a Christian home with parents who were and are highly involved in the ministry of letting people know that the kingdom of God is at reach. It was a very difficult upbringing to be in because of all the rules and regulations that were applied, but this may be the very reason why my mind is where it is today, and in no regards do I ever want to imply that I have arrived to the place of enlightenment, however I have found rest in the one who has enlightened me, Jesus. I have had a fun filled life thus far, filled with your standard obstacle package for the trip called life. It has definitely been a journey because I have always struggled academically and have tried to hide it with jokes and carelessness in many crucial moments but my journey took a shift when my uncle recommended me to go to Oakland School for the Arts (OSA) for high school.
The first day was filled with excitement, all except the news that we would have to scale 3 stories of stairs to get to our classes, which some were up and others were down. However the free apple laptop program made up for the pain that my body would endure. The first day and year was beautiful and filled with many wonder filled stories. At the end of the school year I made a lot of new friends, one of which was my best friends, Kevin Matthews. My journey became even more intriguing with this relationship. He introduced me to the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC). My life at this took a pivotal turn for the better. I grew tremendously at OSA but I received kinesthetic experience that prepared me for life unlike any other program out there.
The instruction, direction, exposure, experience, and mentorship that I received from the EOYDC, has affected my life in a positive way. I gained communicational skills, business mindset, and experience with working with a wide range of youth from all different age groups. The program is not only for the children and youth but as well as adolescents and adults. The staff shows you a love that you normally see only in families. Everyone has the vision to help each other succeed and there is a trust which is given with realistic expectations that is comforting while, at the same time, challenging you to push beyond the status quo. If you’ve done your best, then you can do better is the my model of life, which I believe is the unspoken quote for success that has pushed every person that has experienced the many different programs that the EOYDC has to offer. My experience was grand and although I wish I were more appreciative in the moment, words cannot express my gratitude for all that I received from the center. I was a youth leader, assistance music instructor, music instructor, receptionists, and anywhere else I could serve I served. I was able to go with the Big City Mountaineers (BCM) and on the college tour. The EOYDC opened its door to my family as well, pushing them to excel as well. I was able to apply what I learned at the EOYDC and Osa to the rest of my journey up to this point of time. I went to college and graduated from SUM Bible College & Theological Seminary (SUM), with a B.A. in biblical studies in 2013.
I now reside in central California with my wife Yvonne and son Nehelijah, where we are in the beginning stages of building a servicing business from the ground. One of my mentors wrote this segment about me which is also used on the companies’ website, www.zoneservice.org.
In conclusion, I owe a lot of whom I am to every person who took the time to invest and believe in me. I now have the vision to see whole communities changed through offering a spectrum of resources and opportunities that benefit individuals, groups or businesses who desire to be connected through our network, team of motivational and experienced individuals, and organizations. I have the EOYDC to thank for all the resources that were made available for not just me, but also the entire community. Once you walk through the doors of the center you can never return to life as normal, something I believe Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud to hear.