Members, staff of East Oakland Youth Development Center celebrate opening of newly expanded facility

on October 9, 2015

As the board and trustee presidents, each holding a handle on a pair of oversized scissors, snipped the thick purple ribbon in two, applause erupted from the audience standing on the sidewalk along International Boulevard in East Oakland. The newly-renovated and expanded East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) was officially open, and Regina Jackson, its president, wanted to be sure the occasion was commemorated.

“Did we get that shot?” said Jackson to a few reporters and staffers wielding cameras. “I’ve learned one thing about this community and that’s that you have to memorialize every major moment.”

EOYDC serves students in East Oakland with free after-school programming. It was founded in 1973, officially opening in 1978. The existing facilities recently underwent renovation as well as the construction of over 6,000 square feet of additional space including an art and ceramics studio, an Apple Mac lab, a rooftop deck and an exercise studio where dance, yoga and martial arts classes are held.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Mayor Libby Schaaf spoke, referring to the center as “a place of hope, a place of love, a place of opportunity, a place of greatness for Oakland’s future.” Several people who aided in the development of the facility also spoke, including Toni Anderson, a former Clorox executive who worked closely with former Clorox CEO Robert Shetterly. EOYDC founder. Anderson spoke about the initial plan for the program and the search for the site on which the building would stand. “You are standing on an old gasoline station,” Anderson said.

Jackson said that an important factor for the growth and development of the center was providing opportunities for young people to act as leaders within the organization. “Over 50 percent of our staff today are alums of EOYDC,” said Serena Wilson, vice president of organizational development for the center. Wilson herself is an alum of the program. When she was 4 years old, Wilson’s mother enrolled her in a West African dance class there; she held her first job at EOYDC when she was 13, and then continued to be involved with the program throughout her undergraduate years and early career. The experience was a “true blessing that ended up defining my entire life,” said Wilson.

The EOYDC administration office is open from 9-5. After-school activity hours vary by program. All programming is offered free of charge.

For more information on programs offered or to download a registration form, visit the EOYDC website here.

Photo by Basil D Soufi
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