Bay Area Youth: Two Stories, Two Victories

1. West Oakland Youth Win $5 Million for Teen Center:

WOTCThis spring construction will begin in largely underserved West Oakland, transforming an abandoned church into a long-awaited teen center. The West Oakland Teen Center will include a cafe, kitchen, herb garden, music room, computer lab, stage, multipurpose rooms and a lounge when it opens in summer 2013. The $6.8 million project has been in the works for nearly a decade.

“Every step we took to research the needs of the youth counted. DataCenter prepared us to ask the right questions so that we could get accurate data.
-Diana Alonzo, West Oakland teen

In 2008 Leadership Excellence (LE) asked DataCenter to support African American youth investigating the needs and challenges facing Black teens in Oakland. DataCenter crafted an interactive curriculum to support the West Oakland youth in implementing their own survey from start (drafting the survey questions) to finish (collecting and analyzing the results).

With DataCenter’s support, youth carefully looked at the findings and saw their data clearly disproved the dominant racist notion that young Black teens in low-income communities don’t care about their future. West Oakland youth, by an overwhelming majority, sited college prep support and a safe, well-equipped learning environment as their top unfulfilled needs.

The surveys collected from the community helped to show how a teen center was and still is desperately needed in West Oakland. The collective voice of the youth reached city council and together they won $5 million for the new West Oakland Teen Center! This is what research justice looks like in action.

See what the press are saying about the teen centerhere.

2. San Francisco Youth Win Free Bus Passes:

Youth Bus PassesOn April 17, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board approved a 2-year pilot program providing free bus passes to low-income San Francisco youth ages 5-17. Now funding must get approved!

Back in 2010, youth members of People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER) set out to get free bus passes so low-income youth like themselves could get to school – but they weren’t sure how to get it. Thinking proactively, POWER turned to DataCenter to determine what information needed to be gained, and which research methods would be most impactful and efficient.

Two years and 700 surveys later, San Francisco youth are one step closer to permanently achieving free bus passes.

Check out the press coverage here!