One Day At A Time: A community anchor for youth in East Contra Costa County

Increasing numbers of working families of color, displaced from other places in the Bay Area, are moving into East Contra Costa but there are few education and enrichment opportunities for their children.  Fortunately, youth can turn to One Day at A Time (ODAT) for after school programming, cultural enrichment, academic support, and youth leadership activities.

Over its 20-year history, ODAT has served as a community anchor for the more than 250 youth annually. The program is housed at five school sites throughout the county,  and students are attracted not only by its program offerings but just as important by their relationship with staff.  If you ask Executive Director Johnny Rodriguez about their secret sauce for success with youth, he points to their emphasis in developing and sustaining relationships that are both natural and personal and help to build trust.

ODAT’s goal is to provide youth with a supportive network of peers and opportunities for academic and personal growth while exposing them to positive transformative experiences. They do this by strengthening education and leadership skills, providing guidance, and developing trusting relationships.  A priority for ODAT is to empower youth so that they develop the confidence and life skills to make better choices and lead positive lives.

For many of the youth, participation in ODAT has made the difference in transforming their vision of themselves and expanding their view to new possibilities and dreams. Almost half of ODAT’s staff are former program participants, and graduates often participate in the La Mesa Program.  Among its activities, La Mesa organizes an annual Brown Paper Youth Conference emphasizing topics to empower and educate youth.

In more recent years, ODAT has been able to send 22 youth to participate in programs of the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland. Corrymeela’s objective is the promotion of reconciliation and peace-building through the healing of social, religious, and political divisions.  One of ODAT’s first Corrymeela participants was a young man who had been involved in their program over eight years.  Through ODAT, he was able to build new supports to replace those developed through gang affiliation and navigate his way academically after periods of incarceration and probation.  He remains involved with ODAT and today runs his own school programs to inspire other at-risk youth.

The foundation is proud to support One Day At A Time. Our People pathway seeks to expand access to opportunity by tackling the inequities in our criminal justice, education and immigration systems, while at the same time investing in the necessary training, skill building and employment opportunities for those facing the greatest barriers to a good job.

Every month, we highlight a grantee that we’ve recently funded through our Equity Grants Program, which advances racial and economic inclusion in the Bay Area. Photos courtesy of One Day At A Time.

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