Mayor Schaaf Announces Amazon Commitment to Support Oakland Youth

Date Posted: April 21st, 2022 @ 4:18 PM
Last Updated: April 21st, 2022 @ 4:21 PM
Mayor Schaaf and Oakland officials at Amazon announcement

Funding will support childhood-to-career programs with access to digital literacy, college and career readiness, and social emotional health

Oakland, Ca – Joined by Councilmembers Noel Gallo, Treva Reid and Loren Taylor, Mayor Libby Schaaf today announced Amazon’s support of Oakland organizations that promote a healthy and equitable culture for students and their families. The three local non-profits that will each receive $100,000 grants from Amazon are East Oakland Youth Development Center, Oakland Promise, and Tech Exchange.

“If we want to change the world, we will need to do it through public and private partnerships,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “Making significant investments into our community – and particularly organizations that uplift and support our youth – is a true commitment to Oakland every resident can appreciate.”

“Working in tandem, these organizations support the varied aspects of what a child needs to be successful -- the digital tools to engage in academics and the world around them, a safe and supportive place to grow and thrive outside of school, investments in higher education opportunities, and practical skills to set them up for a productive career,” said Sally Kay, Senior Manager of Amazon’s Public Policy and Community Engagement. “Amazon celebrates these organizations because they have proven success in supporting Oakland youth and their families.”

The mission of the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) is to develop the social and leadership capacities of youth so that they achieve excellence in education, career, and service to their communities. Their mission is based on solid research which demonstrates that interventions that foster relationships with caring adults, and mastery of technical and social skills, can lead to increased well-being and civic engagement among youth from high risk environments.

Oakland Promise is available to youth and their families who reside in Oakland and offers every child the financial resources, educational programming, mentorship, and a supportive community to help them and their families to seek out and thrive in higher education and the career of their choosing.

Tech Exchange works to ensure that students and their families have a computer, Internet access, and technology skills necessary to improve and enhance their lives. ​Their internships allow students to work alongside technicians at schools and public housing sites to resolve technical issues, upgrade, and replace machines.

“This generous investment in our organization and programming is validation of the on-going need for the safe, healing space EOYDC provides, allowing our young people to affirm their identities, explore their passions, and enhance their leadership capacities,” said Landon Hill, EOYDC’s Chief Program Officer. “The funding that supports the work we do, is not only an investment in the young people we serve, but the community at-large who benefit from their success.”

"We are honored by Amazon's investment into the youth of Oakland,” said Sandra Ernst, CEO of Oakland Promise. “Our city has brilliant young people that need more opportunities to pursue college and careers. Amazon's investment and partnership helps us to continue providing scholarships and program support for many of our scholars."

“Since 1995, the resilient organization known as Tech Exchange has narrowed the digital divide for students and families by distributing over 75,000 computers, providing over 30,000 instructional hours of digital literacy training, and offering 200 youth technical internships,” said Shinquell Green, Director of Operations for Tech Exchange. “Thanks to the support of the community, our diverse team continues to bring light to and address the issue of digital equity across the Bay Area. The pandemic brought global attention to the importance of technology in every home--that it is not a luxury, but a necessity--and our mission is more critical than ever. We are grateful to Amazon for this grant, which will provide essential funding as we shift from crisis response to ongoing, sustainable digital inclusion services, tech support, and device refurbishment.”

EOYDC, Oakland Promise, and Tech Exchange are all partners of #OaklandUndivided (#OU), a collective impact initiative that seeks to close the digital divide by both ensuring every Oakland public school student has home access to a computer, internet, and culturally-competent tech support and expanding access to broadband for residents across Oakland. Amazon is a multi-year Signature Partner of #OU and this recent investment enables the expansion of paid student internships to repair devices, develop IT skills, and lead awareness and outreach efforts to connect more students and families across the city.

Amazon has long been a supporter of equitable education programs, from Amazon Future Engineer, a childhood-to-career program aimed at increasing access to computer science education for children and young adults, to supporting the classroom needs of teachers through Donors’ Choose.