September 2015

 An Update From the CEO
Dear Friends,

As we start  a new program year, I have been looking back at my 12 years here and thinking about just how much we have grown, both in breadth of services, and in how much we have been able to learn. Our work provides countless lessons on how to continue to grow and improve the life outcomes for children, youth, and families we serve. These lessons have reinforced my commitment to leading a learning organization that is prepared to develop innovative solutions to the multifaceted challenges our communities face.
Our mission is to disrupt poverty by engaging communities in a continuum of services that supports student success and community development. This continuum is not static however; it must be flexible enough to meet the dynamic needs of a changing city and community. As we look at the changes occurring in Oakland, we really believe that the long time residents of Oakland need to have a greater voice in what happens here, particularly in how future investments are made in the city.
In response, we are looking at innovative ways we can support economic development for our families and amplify their voices. We are also thinking about how to leverage the consumer power in our communities. We have launched a new AmeriCorps VISTA program, which represents an exciting way to build capacity at our Alternative Education sites and expand upon our Family Resource Center strategy. And, we have continued to use advocacy work to create spaces for our families to have a voice not just in our programs, but also in the system changes and policy reforms that we strive to create.
It takes a critical mass of people to do this work. This summer we ran six summer programs, four of which were school based, and had great success thanks to our extensive network of volunteers, employees, and partners.
We are always looking to create more change agents. To that end, we have created an AmeriCorps program to work with our highest-need students in Oakland, San Lorenzo, and Union City and we are currently recruiting 20 applicants to mentor, tutor and inspire youth to reach their potential.
I believe in the power of our communities and the extraordinary talent of our youth. I look forward to another year full of success and growth.

Warm Regards,


Josefina Alvarado Mena
CEO Safe Passages
Upcoming Opportunity
   AmeriCorps Logo
Make a difference in your community while developing the skills to mentor 
urban youth and gaining access to incredible professional development opportunities by becoming an Elev8
riCorps Member for Safe Passages. Manage a cohort of up to 10 students by providing academic support, mentoring, and conflict resolution at one of 17 schools in Oakland Unified School District San Lorenzo Unified School District, and New Haven Unified School District (Union City). Help strengthen the school site and neighboring community by participating in service and volunteer initiatives by training, recruiting and mentoring volunteers. 
Service Commitment/Member Benefits
*  Full T ime positions with one year commitment required.
*  Living allowance stipend, post-service education awards and health benefits available.

To Apply:
Potential  can didates are encouraged to apply ASAP for service to start NOW. 

1. Log onto:

2. Create a profile.

3. Select ELEV8 Youth Program 2015-16.

A Successful Summer For the Baby Learning Program! 

The Safe Passages Baby Learning Program had a fun and busy summer. This program, now in its 8 th year, with operations running in Havenscourt, West Oakland and Sobrante Park, seeks to provide low-income, recent immigrant, and families with disabilities with the services and skills necessary to give children healthy development and happy childhoods.
Mothers and children enjoyed spending time together at Fairyla

For families lacking access to safe and affordable activities, summer outings provide the opportunity to put the skills developed in our program into action, and to spend some relaxed and enjoyable time with their children. Safe Passages and families coordinated fieldtrips to the Berkeley Habitot Museum, Fairyland, and the Oakland Zoo, where kids and parents alike had educational and exciting bonding time.
The summer culminated with a large celebration at Community United Elementary School, attended by over 200 people, that featured food, music, carnival games, face painting, prize giveaways, and a graduation ceremony. Our AmeriCorps volunteers helped with the event and ran our "reading corner," which helps children begin approaching the first stages of literacy and provides them with books to bring home and practice with.

Thanks to all who participated, and we hope to see many new faces next year!

Youth Transform Communities through Art  

This summer, several more blank walls were transformed into vibrant, educational murals by the Safe Passages Urban Arts Program. This program, led by artist Jonathan Brumfield, uses art to engage youth in thinking about social change. By celebrating activists and visionaries from the past, the program seeks to convey important messages about history and empowerment.
Students develop designs for the murals through a collaborative process, discussing their values and sentiments and working with Brumfield to generate sketches that eventually evolve in beautiful and powerful public art. In their latest East Oakland mural, students made sure to include historical figures from all different races and ethnicities--the busts of Frida Kahlo and Angela Davis stand next to each other, hovering over the word "liberation." This art is not solely a lesson in history, Brumfield and students blend these figures from the past with today's civil rights issues. Just a few steps over, a police car and crime scene tape appear in the mural, and on the other end of the wall, the word "resistance."
G raduates of the program have more than murals to display; they also have an elevated social conscious. Participants made their own designs for t-shirts and sweaters, and then printed them on the last day. Messages displayed on t-shirts ranged from breast cancer awareness to social activism and celebration of African cultural heritage.
Go check out some of their work in Havenscourt! 
Young Children Exposed to Violence - Advocacy
Representatives from Safe Passages, Through the Looking Glass and the Jewish Family & Children's Services of the East Bay, appeared before the Safety and Services Oversight Commission recently to discuss the importance of funding intervention services for children ages 0-5 exposed to violence--one of Oakland's most overlooked populations. The initiative, which would create new funding under Measure Z, to specifically address Oakland's youngest population impacted by violence, not just at preschools, but in homes and at crime scenes.

Recent research has indicated that exposure to violence at an early age profoundly affects the growth of a child's brain, and has further suggested a strong need for early interventions. Posttraumatic stress and other health conditions caused by exposure to violence, when untreated, only amplify the challenges children face as they grow older. And data has indicated that, in Oakland, this disproportionately disadvantages children living in minority and high-crime neighborhoods.
Proven strategies for addressing this issue include outreach and community engagement, mental health interventions and treatment, preschool teacher and provider training, and home visits and other community support. The Early Childhood collaborative has is advocating for the designation of funds for raising public awareness, training public officials and police officers in how to handle children at a crime scene, and developing a city-wide response system to ensure that no child falls through the cracks.
Safe Passages is committed to demonstrating the importance intervening early with young children exposed to violence, and believes this investment will produce exponential benefits for Oakland. 
The Early Childhood Collaborative is comprised of the following early childhood service providers and advocates: Safe Passages, Through the Looking Glass, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, and Parent Voices.
Outstanding Results for the Law and Social Justice Career Pathways Program
The Safe Passages Law and Social Justice Summer Employment Program, which provides youth with the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace, had a great summer. A total of 28 youth participated in the program and received hands-on introduction to the creative and practical aspects of business. In addition, they received stipends provided by PUEBLO and the Mayor's office.
"The youth learned how to design, build, and implement a business based around a worker cooperative model," explains Isabelle Mussard, the Youth Development Policy Director. "The youth led the pro gram themselves , and it was facilitated by three program graduates trained by Urban Arts Program Manager Jonathan Brumfield. These graduates have since gone on to become Safe Passages after-school instructors." This gave youth the guidance necessary to develop business skills, allowed them to earn a stipend for their work, and presented them with an opportunity to start putting these skills to use. 

Many worked to develop ways to market the designs and art they produced through the Urban Arts Initiative. Looking ahead, program participants want to expand their culturally affirming, socially conscious, non-violence messages into the community, and are hoping to develop a pop-up shop with the support of the surrounding community. To see some of their work, go to
This program is a part of a larger initiative that is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDoL). Und er the USDoL initiative, 125 adjudicated youth receive life skills coaching, workforce development and educational support. The programs seek to increase high school enrollment and employment rates, and decrease recidivism rates. This year, employment rates are exceeding the USDoL goal, the recidivism rate is at 10% (half the USDoL target of 20%), and the school retention rate is at 100% (well above the USDoL goal of 60%) .
Safe Passages Welcomes 5 New Vista Members
Safe Passages is pleased to welcome 5 new members to our team this August! After acquiring an AmeriCorps VISTA grant--designed to bring in individuals focused on building capacity and outreach--we selected three VISTA members to develop Family Resource Centers at three additional Oakland Alternative Education sites: Ralph J. Bunch Academy, Bridge Academy, and Dewey Academy. They will provide supports to increase parent educational involvement and resources for families. Two additional members will work in the Safe Passages offices on our communications and development teams. We are excited to welcome our new VISTA Members to the Safe Passages Team!

Astrid Robles, who recently graduated from the University of California, Davis with a B.A. in International Relations and a minor in Education, will be working at Dewey Academy, where she will work to establish stronger parental involvement in hopes that this will elevate the support received at home. She was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and her belief in empowerment through education led her to Safe Passages in Oakland.

Sydney Saubestre comes to us from the New School and the London School of Economics, where she studied Anthropology and Economics. She lived on five continents before turning eighteen and grew up immersed in a wide array of different cultures, which led her to develop a keen sense of social justice. She will be developing a Family Resource Center in Ralph J. Bunch Academy in West Oakland, and is excited to be working with families to overcome systemic injustice.

Jose Espinoza will be working with the staff, students, families, and partners of Bridge Academy in East Oakland to develop a Family Resource Center. He is originally from Texas, and graduated from the University of North Texas with a B.A. in Psychology and minors in Social Sciences and LGBT Studies.

Rizpah Bellard, an Oakland native, is joining our Development Team, where she will focus on supporting development efforts, and in doing so, help expand Safe Passage's capacity to sustain Family Resource Centers and other antipoverty efforts. She received her B.S. in Biology & Society from Cornell University .


Ben Grimes is joining the Safe Passages Communications Team as the Social Media VISTA, where he will work to raise awareness and bolster advocacy efforts surrounding anti-poverty interventions in Oakland. He received his B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from Amherst College, and grew up in Louisville, Kentucky.


Safe Passages is thrilled to bring these members on board, and is happy to be joining the AmeriCorps VISTA mission during its 50 th anniversary year.

Help Engage Families in Education
The new Family Resource Centers being developed by our VISTA members are seeking donations! These centers will provide the space and support for parents to become active participants in their children's education and will help to create family-oriented paths towards success. As we get these new centers up and running, any amount of support would be appreciated. If you would like to help out by providing monetary or in-kind donations, please contact Rizpah Bellard at (510) 238-7060. 
In This Issue
An Update from the CEO
Summer Fun with the Baby Learning Program
Youth Transform Communities through Art
Young Children Exposed to Violence
Outstanding Results for the Law and Social Justice Career Pathways Program
Welcoming Our New VISTA Members



Safe Passages disrupts the cycle of poverty by engaging youth and families to build and drive a continuum of services that supports student success and community development.     


We envision a community where all young people have the opportunity to realize their full potential.

Our work is based on the premises that access to educational opportunity, health services, and family support should not be dictated by race or socio-economic status, and that healthy and supported young people are better prepared to learn and succeed.

Safe Passages' strategies span the age continuum of birth through young adulthood and include: Early Childhood, School Linked Services, Juvenile Justice and Career Pathways. 


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