Youth Organizing Council (YOC) champions justice and educational equity for students in Oakland. Founded by OKF in 2018, YOC now convenes 18 student leaders and alumni with previous program experience from five schools during a summer organizing institute and weekly during the school year.
Youth Organizing Council program curriculum incorporates community-building and healing, skill development, political education, power mapping, campaign planning and civic engagement. YOC centers the voices and experiences of Oakland youth in shared decision-making and empowers students to influence policies, budgets or democratic processes that directly affect their lives. Each year, YOC members identify regional, district, or city-wide campaigns that build power for young people in Oakland and increase equity and racial justice in the public school system.
In recent years, YOC organizers co-authored the Oakland Youth Vote resolution with Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan, which made history in November 2020 when it passed as ballot Measure QQ with 67% of the vote. YOC youth organizers continue to work in partnership with the Oakland Youth Vote (OYV) Coalition and a Core Leader Committee of student leaders to implement Oakland Youth Vote before the next round of OUSD school board elections.
In 2019, YOC also successfully organized the reinstatement of OUSD’s free supper program that offers after school meals to 3,700 low-income students daily. Students in the REAL HARD program launched a “Free Supper for Hungry Minds” campaign, and advocated with OUSD School Board members and the OUSD Office of the Superintendent to continue the program after funding was cut. Then YOC leaders made the win sustainable by partnering with the Superintendent’s Office to develop a proposal, present it to the Measure HH community advisory board, and advocate at Oakland City Council meetings. In the end, YOC leaders secured $3.6 million to fund the free supper program and help OUSD complete buildout of their central kitchen, ensuring free nutritious food remained available to students.