Developing a 10 Year Plan for a Thriving East Oakland
An Oakland where Black children and families are thriving is an Oakland where everyone can thrive.
$100 Million Opportunity for Oakland
Blue Meridian Partners, a national funding partner, recently announced that they will be infusing $50 million of philanthropic capital into Oakland, one of just five cities in the country selected for this place-based investment. Oakland was chosen after a rigorous, year-long process during which more than 400 stakeholders contributed their ideas through focus groups, surveys, and interviews conducted by Oakland Thrives.
The investment from Blue Meridian is contingent on Oakland Thrives securing an equal-sized investment from local funders, bringing the total investment in Oakland to $100 million. This historic opportunity will lead to deep and lasting improvements in the health and well-being of Oakland’s children and families.
Developing the Collective Vision
In March 2022, Oakland Thrives began to facilitate a community planning process to understand the opportunities and challenges facing Oakland’s children, youth, and families. Starting citywide with community workshops in West Oakland, Chinatown, Fruitvale, and East Oakland, the team conducted almost 70 interviews with systems leaders and community residents, as well as surveys and focus groups with more than 400 total participants contributing their ideas.
Based on this input, an 18-member Community Advisory Team and the Oakland Thrives Leadership Council coalesced around a theory of change for the work using the targeted universalism framework. First developed by Angela Glover Blackwell and john a. powell, targeted universalism is based on the idea that improving outcomes for one marginalized group improves conditions for all. Curb cuts in sidewalks are a prime example of targeted universalism; added to create access for people in wheelchairs, curb cuts make sidewalks more accessible for everyone, from children riding bikes to parents pushing strollers.
“Some call it targeted universalism and I love that. But I call it ‘we are the canary in the mine.’ As go us, as go you, as goes the city, and as goes the country.”- Carolyn Johnson, CEO, Black Cultural Zone
Applying the principles of targeted universalism to this historic investment, we seek to design for the unique needs of Black children and families in deep East Oakland. Black families in Oakland have been deeply impacted by generations of disinvestment, structural racism, and systemic barriers to well-being and wealth as well as disproportionately harmed by more recent crises of mass foreclosures and evictions, lack of affordable housing and homelessness, COVID-19, and community violence.
These challenges are driving Black families out of Oakland, resulting in the loss of almost half the Black population between 1990-2020. We believe that improving conditions, opportunities, and outcomes for this community will benefit all Oakland neighborhoods and residents. An Oakland where Black children and families are thriving is an Oakland where everyone can thrive.
East Oakland, where 44% of Black families remaining in Oakland reside, is the starting place for this initiative. Neighborhood leaders have defined an area for priority investment – known as the 40×40 – from Seminary Avenue to the Oakland-San Leandro border, and from the 580 freeway to the Bay, that is home to approximately 88,690 people. By partnering with leaders from the 40×40, we are developing a model to improve conditions in all Oakland neighborhoods.
The 40×40 Neighborhoods of East Oakland
The Work Ahead
The work ahead is both upstream and downstream, immediate and generational, and must strengthen disinvested neighborhoods in the short term, while also beginning to re-make the systems that impact them.
This work is guided by a set of shared principles:
- Equity and abundance are possible and within our reach.
- Implementation and results are more important than plans.
- Residents are the experts in what thriving looks like in their communities.
Human relationships and trust make enduring success possible.
- Oakland is “program rich and systems poor.”
The work begun in the Draft 10 Year Plan released earlier this year will be refined, codified into milestones, and linked to cost models. An East Oakland Community Steering Committee and the Oakland Thrives Executive Team will reach consensus on priorities and specific investable strategies. To release Blue Meridian’s $50M investment, Oakland Thrives must secure $50 million in local matching funds. Funds can be provided anytime over the next five years. Every dollar committed that is aligned with the goals of this effort counts.
How to Get Involved
Oakland Thrives is a public/private partnership, a collective impact backbone organization that convenes decision-makers and community leaders to collaborate on policies that ensure long-term gains in health, wealth, education, housing, and safety for Oakland families. Oakland Thrives centers racial equity, community engagement, and data in all of its work. We are led by two governing bodies that represent Oakland’s diverse constituents – the Youth Ventures Joint Powers Authority and the Oakland Thrives Leadership Council.
Blue Meridian Partners is a group of results-oriented philanthropists seeking to transform the life trajectories of our nation’s young people and families in poverty by investing in solutions to the problems that limit economic and social mobility. The Place Matters portfolio aims to improve economic and social mobility in communities across the U.S. through catalytic investments in place-based partnerships. Learn more at www.bluemeridian.org/funds/place-matters.
The 40×40 Collaborative is a coalition of community-based organizations in the 40×40 area of East Oakland working together to improve health and quality of life in the neighborhood. Launched in 2021, the 40×40 Initiative includes four longstanding, Black-led nonprofits: Black Cultural Zone, Brotherhood of Elders, East Oakland Youth Development Center, and Roots Community Clinic. The initiative includes a People’s Advisory Council made up of Black community leaders and residents from the 40×40 who have knowledge of the issues impacting the community and a vested interest in improving the neighborhood without displacing the residents.
If you are a prospective funding partner, a Black-led East Oakland community-based organization, a citywide organization, or a community member looking to learn more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.