The mission of Oakland Kids First is to increase youth voice, leadership and power to create engaging and equitable public schools where all students learn and lead.

We believe students are the experts of their own experience and therefore equipped to evaluate, innovate, and govern the institutions that are supposed to serve them. OKF has supported youth leadership development and student organizing for over 25 years and is proud to stand with youth organizers and adult allies invested in justice for students in Oakland, CA.


Founded in 1996 by a multi-racial coalition of youth serving community-based organizations, Oakland Kids First (OKF) trains hundreds of high-school leaders each year who work to advance safe and caring school cultures, academic success, and educational equity campaigns that center the needs of underserved Oakland students.

OKF was originally established as a community coalition that organized to pass Measure K or the Kids First! Initiative in 1996. That campaign won a 2.5% set aside of the city budget to fund services and programming for children and youth, which was later increased to 3%. These funds are distributed by the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth (OFCY). This multi-million dollar annual fund is the cornerstone of our organization and exemplifies our commitment to economic inclusion, youth engagement, and racial equity. OKF was designated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 2002, and is classified as a public charity.

Today, Oakland Kids First works with 125 core youth leaders, 3,400 additional students across five high school campuses through youth leadership and organizing programs that build power for young people to advance racial and educational equity, and through our community school services.

In each of our programs, OKF youth leaders participate in restorative practices, community building, and positive youth development activities. Our participants are supported to conduct youth participatory action research (YPAR) and analyze school equity issues and then develop campaigns, advocate, pilot, and institutionalize solutions to improve the experience of students in schools and to foster equity across OUSD.

Learn more about our organizing milestones and wins here.