Two Real Hard program participants smiling
At Oakland Kids First
We Develop
Youth Leaders
Through positive youth development, political education, and civic engagement opportunities, we prepare student
leaders to improve their schools and communities.
We Serve the People
At Oakland Kids First
We Serve
the People
We provide students with the community services and supports they need to thrive and prepare for college,
career and community after high school.
Newsletter Header
At Oakland Kids First
We Build
Youth Power
We amplify youth voice and build student power by training student organizers who lead
citywide organizing campaigns.
Oakland Youth Vote organizers
At Oakland Kids First
We Organize for
Educational Equity
Youth leaders research, plan, lead and organize campaigns that improve public education
across the City of Oakland and for all public school students.

Our mission

oakland kids first

Oakland Kids First (OKF) is a community-based nonprofit organization in Oakland, CA that empowers young people to reimagine broken systems and organize for equitable public schools. Our mission is to increase youth voice, leadership and power to create engaging and equitable public schools where all students learn and lead. 

A youth holding up a poster that defines power

What We Stand For

Oakland Kids First believes that all youth deserve a quality public education and that their leadership, expertise, and power are central to making that a reality. That is why we provide Oakland youth with the safe spaces, skills, and political education needed to cultivate their leadership and organize campaigns that positively transform the school system. 

Youth also need support navigating existing learning conditions, so we provide programs, individualized support, and work-based learning opportunities to help students complete high school and access postsecondary success.

OKF membership consists of youth who attend OUSD high schools along with their families, community stakeholders, educators and coalition partners who stand with student organizers to take bold stands and lead powerful campaigns.

Youth Leadership

Youth Organizing

Community School Initiatives

Educational Equity Campaigns

Oakland Youth Vote Coalition Highlight

Learn about the inspiring journey youth organizers and the Oakland Youth Vote Coalition are on to make Measure QQ, the Oakland Youth Vote legislation that allows 16 and 17-year old Oaklanders the right to vote in school board elections, a reality. We are working hard to ensure youth can vote by November 2024.

What our youth have
to say

“We are impacted by systems and deserve a say in how they’re run. ‘We are the future’ is something we hear very often, yet we aren’t given the attention or resources to set in motion the changes we want to see. We are not just the future, we are the present.”
Photo of youth leader Ixchel
Ixchel Arista
Youth Organizer
“I am proud of the transformative institutional changes we have implemented together, such as Free Supper for Hungry Minds and Oakland Youth Vote. Through organizing, I developed analytical communication and leadership skills that supported me and will continue to support me throughout my personal life and school career.”
Photo of Youth Leader - Malia
Malia Liao
Youth Organizer

Number Power

Annual Impact In Numbers

Youth Leaders
Stipended Internships
Students Engaged This School Year

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Get updates on our programs and activities! 

Latest News

Future latest news section

Image of Senayt Sium

Senayt Sium


(She/Her/Hers) is a Program Coordinator for REAL HARD and facilitates after school programs at Oakland Tech and Oakland High School. She attended OUSD public school and is a proud alumni of Oakland High School. Senayt is a first generation college graduate from University of California, Davis in Sociology with concentration in Law and Society, Public Health Science and Chicano/a Studies. One of her key passions is advocacy. She strongly believes in addressing and combating systemic issues that affect marginalized communities.

She strives to empower and support youth in developing essential skills while fostering activism. As a former REAL HARD student organizer, Senayt is very excited to be working with youth, and provide them with the necessary resources to support and help them accomplish their goals.

Peter Truong

Peter Truong


Peter (he/him/his) supports staff across OKF programs to incorporate best practices in positive youth development. Peter oversees the REAL HARD after school program and supports all chapters to develop youth-led transformational school culture campaigns.

Peter also writes curriculum for Oakland Kids First programs and supports organization-wide youth organizing campaigns such as development of the Student Justice Platform. A life long learner and educator, Peter earned a degree in Ethnic Studies at the University of Oregon.

Cara Holiday

Cara Holiday


Cara (she/her/hers) is the Senior Development Manager who oversees fundraising, communications, grant writing and reporting and also serves on the senior management team. She has been part of the OKF community since 2009 in a range of roles including volunteering as a board member from 2009-2012, and then working on staff.

Cara currently works for OKF remotely from her hometown of St. Louis, MO. Throughout her career, Cara has focused on supporting students to reach their individual goals to graduate and access post-secondary education while also advocating to improve systems and equity in public schools. She earned a MA in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership Studies from Stanford University, a teaching credential from San Francisco State University, and a BA in English from Washington University in St. Louis.

Previous positions include working as Assistant Director at the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement at Washington University, as a Community Programs Manager for Alternatives in Action and as an English teacher on the McClymonds high school campus in OUSD. In her free time, Cara enjoys hiking with her family and two dogs, and exploring the local food scene.