Author Archives OCO Staff

  • Just as good food brings people together, so does spoiled milk. And in public school cafeterias, parents say, there’s plenty of it. Anxious to rid their schools of expired food, processed “pouches” and high-fructose corn syrup, families from dozens of Oakland neighborhoods, from the Montclair heights to the East Oakland flatlands, have banded together to push for an overhaul of Oakland’s school lunch program.

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  • Tavon Frazier is a skinny 9-year-old squirming in front of his Styrofoam lunch tray. He’s eaten most of his chicken taco and his friends, all wearing the navy polo shirts of East Oakland’s Korematsu Discovery Academy, are wiggling around him, chewing on their flour tortillas and nibbling on baby carrots. Tavon didn’t stop at the salad bar on his way to the cafeteria table today. He says sometimes he’ll get applesauce when they have it, but mostly he doesn’t like vegetables, especially broccoli and carrots. His ideal cafeteria meal would be “donuts and cupcakes and a cake,” he says with a mischievous sideways grin.

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  • On Monday August 17th, 2,200 community leaders flooded St. Elizabeth Catholic Church to let local, state and federal representatives know that our countries broken healthcare and immigration systems are hurting our families, and must be reformed NOW!  The crowd spanned across race, age, and religious faith, all with one common message and common hope: that everyone should […]

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  • “We call it the slow dance,” said Kevin Grant, who heads the Oakland Street Outreach program. Recruited and led by Grant, three crews of five men patrol not just MacArthur Boulevard, but violent hot spots across East, Central and West Oakland. They go out Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, starting as early as 5 p.m. and often staying until 2 a.m. The “slow dance,” Grant said, is a gentle and gradual means of conversation by which he and his teams establish trusting relationships with gang members, drug dealers and others on the streets, trying to convince them to consider another path.

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  • Life Academy High School is one of the first small schools born out of OCO’s small school movement, and has one of the highest academic achievement rates in the city. In March of 2008 Life Academy was displaced from its home.  The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) wanted to use the building for the District, […]

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  • OCO leaders have won our first victory in our “Green Jobs for Life” campaign. On Tuesday, June 2nd, the Oakland City Council unanimously approved the use of federal Community Development Block Grant money to fund a home weatherization program developed by the Mayor’s office and City staff, with OCO input. The weatherization program will consist of a revolving […]

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  • Marilyn “Melina” Collins was strung out and desperate, a 98-pound skeleton of her former self. She was turning tricks to support her addiction and take care of her 4-year-old daughter, Messiah. She needed help but didn’t know where to turn. Then, one night last June, she saw men wearing white jackets standing on International Boulevard and 78th Avenue in East Oakland. One of them offered her a lifeline. She reached for it and hasn’t let go.

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  • It is often said that there are “two Oaklands,” and the city’s public education system is no exception to this divide. Some schools are largely attended by the middle class and affluent, and others by the poor and working class. The Interstate 580 freeway, which traces the city’s rolling foothills, provides a crude boundary. About 10 years ago, a group of mothers from the flatlands of East Oakland saw their children languishing in overcrowded, chaotic schools while their peers in the hills received a far different kind of education. Through Oakland Community Organizations, an alliance of community and religious leaders, those concerned mothers and thousands of others pushed for the creation of new, small schools – excellent schools, with innovative practices and high expectations – in their own neighborhoods.

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  • For the past few years a handful of outreach workers have hit the streets to try to transform their East Oakland community, empowering it by offering jobs and training and hope. The five members of the East Oakland Outreach team say they believe they have been able to halt some street killings.

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  • In the wake of last month’s slaying of four Oakland police officers by a parolee, pastors around Oakland spoke at vigils of the power of resurrection. They saw in the language of the church, the most powerful organizing force in many neighborhoods of need, a parable applicable to the most vulnerable and dangerous on the city’s streets. But the nature of the ministries that would need to accompany that vision is still largely in question. But today, as Christians honor the moment they believe Jesus rose from the dead, one answer may lie in the street ministry that is perhaps having the most pronounced effect on Oakland.

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