At Oakland Kids First, we create leadership opportunities for young people to transform their schools so all youth graduate with the skills and motivation to reach their dreams.

We believe that as a critical mass of young people take responsibility for themselves, for each other, and for their education – they have the power to immediately improve student culture and school climate and organize more effectively with their peers to win long-term systemic changes. Our innovative Culture Change strategies result in higher graduation, college attendance and retention rates, more class participation, the creation of more meaningful youth leadership opportunities, and a greater sense of connection and responsibility students have towards their peers and their education.


Founded in 1995, Oakland Kids First (OKF) supports visionary youth leaders to transform Oakland schools and improve student achievement through advocacy, peer mentoring, and leadership training.

Oakland Kids First partners with schools and the district to ensure hundreds of students have meaningful roles and responsibilities in school change efforts. OKF programs equip youth leaders with the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to:

  1. provide peer academic mentoring to 1,800 freshmen annually in our PASS-2;
  2. engage the student body in building positive, safe and healthy school cultures; and,
  3. partner with parents and school staff to increase equity for the most marginalized students.

Oakland Kids First accomplishments include winning: a Meaningful Student Engagement policy and office within OUSD (2006); an increase in funding from 2.5% to 3.0% for OFCY (2008); a Code of Respect policy reforming discipline at three sites (2013), and a number of other victories that improved retention rates, lowered suspensions and fostered greater connections to school.