On Thursday, July 21, 2016 hundreds of young people waited anxiously outside the doors of West Hall at the Oakland Convention Center, hoping to land one of the 300+ on-site job opportunities at the inaugural Invest in Youth: Pathways to Success, Boys and Men of Color Career Summit. Over 1,000 young people were in attendance, and connected with 30 employers who extended nearly 350 job offers on the spot. Urban Strategies Council leveraged its strong network of community-based organizations (CBOs), bringing nearly 20 partners on-site to provide public benefit enrollment, one-on-one financial consultations, legal support, linkages to health services, and free computers for young people.

Credit: Jeremy Portje

Credit: Jeremy Portje

There was a strong, and exciting energy at the Summit. John Marshall, one of our young adult volunteers, described the Summit as a powerful moment for Oakland, as he welcomed many young men from his neighborhood who were there hoping to land full-time employment. Whether you were looking to interview with companies, attend workshops, network with the corporate and CBO partners, strengthen your mock interview skills, or get a free haircut – there was something there for everyone.

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Credit: Jeremy Portje

Young adults arrived ready to seize the day after attending LeadersUp’s Winning in the Workplace Training Labs across six Bay Area cities in the weeks leading up to the Summit. Training series included a mock interview circuit and on-the-spot feedback, instructions on best practices for resume development, and lastly the importance of having a LinkedIn profile for marketability and self-promotion.

One of the greatest moments to witness, was the excitement from the young men that attended the Summit. Many of them couldn’t believe that things like this existed — events that were dedicated to individuals just like them. That was a similar reaction with many of the other attendees of the event, as many did not know what to expect when they walked into the Convention Center. The feedback we received was that this wasn’t just your ordinary job fair, it was purposeful and targeted with all of right components to get a young person excited and ready for a job. It was a moment to expose young people to opportunities and actually have them take initiative in practicing those major job readiness steps of job searching, networking, resume development, and interviewing all in one place.


CBO Spotlight


Photo by Kirsten Lundgren

Root and Rebound, one of the community-based organizations that provided information on their reentry programs and services, shared with us that they were able to conduct 16 legal intakes with young people who had questions about their rights with a record–including rights to certain types of jobs, eligibility for clean slate remedies, licensing questions, and more. They also provided free copies of their Roadmap to Reentry: A California Legal Guide to young people with records who attended the Summit and stopped by the Root and Rebound booth.

Bay Area BMoC Employment Project

The Summit was organized in partnership with the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, several local and national partners, and many philanthropic sponsors. This event served as the launch for the Bay Area BMoC Employment Project which is the long-term effort to bring together employers, policymakers, and community leaders to train, employ, and retain young men of color in entry-level and family sustaining wage jobs. The partners for the Bay Area BMoC Employment Project include LeadersUp, Bay Area Council, PolicyLink and Urban Strategies Council.

If you interested in learning more about the Bay Area BMoC Employment Project, please contact Becky Lai.