I was born in Mexico and moved to the US when I was 12. Oakland has been my home ever since. When I found Youth UpRising, the staff gave me an opportunity that I could not find anywhere else. They believed in me. Corners Café was my first job, I didn’t have any experience, and I needed support to develop my skills. I started as a cashier and quickly moved up to Café Manager. I’m now attending Cal State East Bay working on a double major in Psychology and Hospitality/Tourism. I will be the first in my family to graduate from college and once I am done I want to open my own non-profit to help others. Youth UpRising has been more than just a job it has been a family. They have always been there for me when I needed them the most.
- Nancy, 20
July 7, 2009 is the day that changed my whole life. I was sitting at home, bored out of my mind when my mom asked me to go and look for my brother. He was somewhere by Castlemont high school, which was next door to Youth UpRising. I had never really noticed YU before; I thought it was a library. As soon as I set foot in the door, I thought the place looked like a museum. It was so shiny and neat - it was like stepping into another society, like a place that you wouldn’t find in East Oakland. The main thing that attracted me to keep coming in was the free studio time! I heard that and almost did a back flip. Then later found out about the photo shop, the dance studio, the amazing consciousness-raising programs (Man Up, Women’s Circle, Leaders In Action, etc.) I now work at Youth UpRising as a member of the Rise Up Team, a youth policy and research team. I love what Youth UpRising is doing for the community and my hope is that it stays open forever.
- Kwame, 20
After high school, I was thrilled about the possibility of going to college. I had yet to fully realize the seemingly unconquerable obstacles in my way and saw my potential being just that—potential. With no access to financial aid, college was financially out of reach for my family. Discouragement and self-doubt followed. Youth Uprising was my support system. The staff listened to me; they believed in me. Two days before college applications were due I made up my mind and refused to succumb to my restrictive circumstances. I went into YU’s computer lab and applied with the support of YU staff and was accepted to UC Berkeley. I learned an important lesson about perseverance and I could not have experienced this in a better place. Because of YU, I have a deeper connection to my community, a better understanding of the impact personal investments have in my community, and a greater of all the good in my community.
- Lyz, 21