Youth Advisory Board

ALAMEDA COUNTY YOUTH ADVISORY BOARD

Check out the YAB’s Fall 2023 newsletter here

 

Logo

We are YOUTH ABOUT ACTION

MISSION: The Youth Advisory Board (YAB) seeks to encourage and uplift youth representation to identify barriers to increase housing stability. We strive to support self-sufficiency by building an equitable community using transparent means. 

VISION: We envision an inclusive world where young people of all backgrounds and identities thrive through equity and generosity. Where all youth are affirmed as their authentic selves in the community. 

The Youth About Action seeks to eliminate and prevent youth homelessness in Alameda County. The YAB is a vital function of the plight against homelessness. The youth voice is currentlymisrepresented, and we will lend that voice. We will serve as a bridge between youth andcounty decision makers to bring insight to the needs of youth in Alameda County andconnect an increasing amount of resources for our community. 

 

Who is the Youth Advisory Board and our role in the community:

The Youth About Action was initiated within ALL IN Alameda County and now operates under the Office of Homeless Care and Coordination (OHCC) in Alameda County's Health Care Services Agency. Our goal is to prevent and end youth experiencing homelessness while uplifting youth representation. We are 100% BIPOC and between the ages of 18-26 with lived experience, or have demonstrated a commitment to ending homelessness.

We work closely with city and county decision makers, service providers, professors and community stakeholders, and are guiding leaders by advising on the best policies and practices that meet the diverse needs of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. This includes building a County/City Interagency Task Force to target legislative change and implementing the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project grant in the county, as well as engaging in other collaborative projects and initiatives. Aside from guiding policy change, the YAB is essential to the community because we encourage and support personal and professional development as well as growth opportunities to stimulate youths' career or academic pathways.

 

Land Acknowledgement:

The YAB is based out of north Ohlone land, referred to as Oakland, California and home to the Muwekma Ohlone. We’d like to honor the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe who are the original inhabitants and lifetime stewards of the land we continue our work on. We acknowledge that, in face of past and current colonialism, they are still here today. In working towards ending youth homelessness, it’s important that we recognize and publicly acknowledge the home that was taken away from our Indigenous neighbors and be intentional about how we cultivate conversations surrounding this. We encourage our community to seek an understanding of their land’s history and find ways to elevate the voices of our Indigenous communities through direct action and the sharing of knowledge:

Learn more about our neighbors, the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe

How to contribute to the Shuumi Land Tax

Indigenous populations in the East Bay Area

6 Actions toward allyship with Indigenous communities

Our Values:

  1. We believe in exercising true equality to represent and uplift all youth voices of different backgrounds and situations.
  2. We believe that all youth are stakeholders; we prioritize youth employment with fair compensation and benefits 
  3. We believe community-based support and services exist in order to be the core of ending youth homelessness and poverty. Levegering power is crucial to this case. 
  4. We believe in stretching the quality of generosity by providing one-on-one peer mentor support. 
  5. We value engineering creativity, teamwork, and developing a sustainable environment for youth to have the tools they need to succeed.


Meet the Youth Advisory Board

Christian McLaren

My name is Christian McLaren and I wish to make a change in our world for the betterment of everyone I come across. I have been drawn to the YAB due to the current climate of our community in dealing with homelessness especially pertaining to youth and given my interests in helping people especially those in my age group and younger it seems to be a great fit for me. I'm a strong advocate for equality and I think it goes without saying that everyone deserves to have access to food, water, and a roof over their head but sadly we're not at that point yet. I'm glad I'm privileged enough to be a part of the YAB and eagerly look forward to the bright future of the program and love that we're able to help youth who can't always advocate for themselves. We give these forgotten youth a voice and with my own and other YAB members' experience we'll be able to more accurately assist youth in their struggles and hopefully one day youth and homelessness as a whole will be diminished. Let us not be bound by the constraints of what we know and see but let us make and advocate for a new world, a favorable world, a fair world, for all people regardless of age, gender, race, and understanding.

Sabrina Abong 

My name is Sabrina Catherine Abong. My gender pronouns are She/her and hers. I love to play with my son, play video games especially super Mario and Pokémon games on my switch. My first job was at Walgreens. I am currently based in Merced, CA but I have moved everywhere a lot. I am currently helping the RFP bidding process for homeless youth and I would like to help more foster youth for them to have more security. When I am not at YAB I work at Tesla or take my son to school. Favorite thing about working for YAB is being taken seriously because I am a stakeholder. I am passionate about foster youth and human trafficking survivors and activism. That's what I want to be as a social activist.

Learn more about Sabrina’s activism here:

Better Care Solutions for Foster Youth w/ Mental Illnesses by Sabrina https://imprintnews.org/youth-voice/better-care-solutions-for-foster-youth-with-mental-illnesses/236545#0


Tammy Nguyen 

My name is Tammy Nguyen (she/hers), I'm a Peer Mentor with the YAB and also proudly representing Renegade Feedings, a grassroots street-outreach organization based in Fremont where I cultivated my drive to advocate for individuals experiencing homelessness, and where I first became connected with the YAB. I'm also an Interpretive Aide at a regional park and a student at San Jose State currently earning a Bachelor's in Psychology. My roles in the YAB include co-leading Communications, leading the Task Force subcommittee, and being involved with the YHDP on the Executive and CQI team. I hope to make direct change at the city and county level to bridge the gap between my community and local resources, but especially bridging the gap in authentic connections between civic leaders and the people they serve. Aside from the board, I enjoy being with my mom, friends, my community and nature, taking care of my chickens, skateboarding, seeing live music and exploring life. 

“Be love first - even in the face of anything” - Ike Shehadeh


Ariana Nawabi

Hello, my name is Ariana Nawabi and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I’m a Youth Member at the Youth Advisory Board as of June 2022. Some fun facts about me is that I love spending quality times with friends/family, singing, dancing, and most importantly helping out my community! My first job was at Spirit Halloween when I was 16 years old in 2020. I currently reside in Fremont CA, but I was born in Hayward CA. One of my roles at the YAB was as a Young Adult Project Designer for the Alameda County Selection Committee for the YHDP Project. I envision directly helping out Youth and Young Adults navigate the homelessness response system and ensuring all of their needs are met. When I’m not at YAB, I’m usually working on school assignments or working at Ulta Beauty! My favorite thing about working for YAB is how everyone is supporting and encouraging, as well as it being a safe place to share anything. Lastly, I’m passionate about helping others and working for the YAB, because of my lived experience of housing insecurity, I’m doing this for my younger self as well as giving back to my community!


Sahra Nawabi (She/her) 

My Name is Sahra Nawabi and I am the Youth lead at the Alameda County’s Youth Advisory Board. I am an advocate and researcher for youth experiencing homelessness and have been for the past two years while concurrently working for the YAB. I would describe myself as authentic, humorous, hardworking, and the ability to learn quickly and efficiently. The things I love are music, self care, and roller skating in my community. One of my first jobs was as a cashier at Walmart, as I thoroughly enjoyed that role - it allowed me to build my customer service skills which eventually helped me realize how powerful the voice is. I am based in Oakland but was born and raised in Hayward, California. What I do at the YAB is ensure we are continuously moving the work forward while keeping our YAB organized with events, information, resources, and guidance. Being passionate about this work allowed me to find light into other things, such as mediation and self journaling.


Antonio (Tony) 

My name is Antonio Pizano and I am a founding member of Alameda county’s Youth Action Board. I have been a part of the Youth Action Board since the very beginning, and I am a very passionate individual who supports his peers through thick and thin. A couple things that I love to do is play football, video games, and spend time with my kids. One of the first jobs that I worked was at another youth center called Youth uprising as a media intern. As this was one of my first jobs I ever had, it got me interested in youth work. As an Oakland, native and former foster you, I’ve aligned myself to support my peers in my community. I do this now as a peer mentor for the Youth Action Board and a program specialist at Voices Youth Center. I will continuously support my community as well as be that mentor for youth that need the extra support!



Paul Berry (He/Him)

I'm affiliated with the Alameda County YAB & Everyone Home Leadership Board. I love spreading love, basketball and seeing my peers grow and prosper. My first job helped me was a door to door newspaper salesman in the Bay Area. I'm born and raised in Oakland, Ca. I'm a proud Oakland Native. Currently my tasks at YAB include my role on the Leadership Board and helping where I can on the ongoing YHDP project. I plan to get more involved by facilitating classes and leading on new upcoming projects. When I'm not working with YAB, I'm working on my studies at SFSU or shooting 3 pointers at my local gym. My short term goals include getting my personal businesses up and running by 2023! My favorite thing about working with YAB is knowing that we are getting youth in Alameda County housed and off the street. Not only are we getting youth housed we are helping youth get employment, educated and much more! I'm most passionate about the work I do with YAB, helping my family succeed and making the world a better place for all. Blessings.


Ray Corona
(He/Him)

My name is Ray Corona. I go by He/Him pronouns and I am based in Oakland, CA. I am passionate about helping my community with information about my lived experience with homelessness in my community, resources in the community, and connecting youth and young adults to their city’s provider. At the YAB I am a youth member who is a part of the Communications Subcommittee. I joined the YAB committee because I like to help other youth who need resources within their communities on a global level. I love the YAB because they help me better understand the impact I can make positively for my community. When I am not at the YAB I tend to work out, attend community events, and spending time with family. . I love to go outside around nature, I like to go on walks near water, and play sports like basketball. My first job was at a Taco Bell in Oakland. I joined the YAB committee because I like to help other youth who need resources within their communities on a global level. I love the YAB because they help me better understand the impact I can make positively for my community.



Our Membership:

The YAB is made up of participants, members and peer mentors between the ages of 18-26. Participants are youths who engage with YAB meetings, activities and events on their own time basis; they assist with YAB's goals by providing unique insights on youth homelessness in Alameda County.

Members are the core decision-making body of the YAB consisting of a minimum of eight (8) and a maximum of ten (10) seats. Each member seat will represent the following experiences:

  • Foster care/ Child welfare 
  • System Impacted 
  • Juvenile Justice 
  • Undocumented/migrant 
  • LGBTQ+ 
  • CSEC/Labor exploited (victims of DV) 
  • Pregnant/Parenting 
  • BIPOC 
  • Emancipated youth 
  • YYA w/Disabilities & Mental Health 

Peer mentors are youths and young adults ages 18-26 who operate internal YAB functions and provide one-on-one peer support to YAB members. The YAB is fully supported by our adult allies from Covenant House California who provide authentic guidance and connections to youth, fair youth compensation and supportive resources.

Our Partners:

Ashland Reach Center

Alameda Office of Homeless Care and Coordination

Alameda County Former District 3 Supervisor Dave Brown

ALL IN Alameda County

Brandon Harami (Policy Director, Oakland Mayor’s Office)

California Coalition for Youth

The Career and Technical Education (CTE) Hub at 1025 2nd Ave

City of Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao

Covenant House of California

Continuum of Care (CoC), Homebase

Downtown TAY (Oakland)

Genice Jacobs (Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Activist)

Oakland Youth Advisory Commission

On The Move

True Colors United

UC Berkeley School of Public Health

Vincent Steele (Policy Analyst, District 2 Public Ethics Commissioner)

 

In 2020, the YAB began as an initiative within ALL IN Alameda County through financial support from Blue Shield of California and in partnership with youth serving organization, Covenant House of California.

In 2022, the YAB transitioned out of ALL IN Alameda County and into The Office of Homeless Care and Coordination (OHCC) who began the 2nd YAB contract and brought the YAB into Alameda County's Homeless Response System. In contract and partnership with Covenant House of California, OHCC has agreed to fully administer the YAB to support its work by providing supportive services such as a working location, working materials and youth compensation.

We are Youth About Action!

What the YAB has been doing in our community:

November, 2020

Proclamation: November National Runaway and Homeless Youth Awareness Month

In November 2020 and 2021, the YAB, adult allies from ALL IN Alameda and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors wrote a proclamation declaring November 2021 as Nation Runaway and Homeless Youth Awareness Month.

In addition to proclaiming November as National Runaway and Homeless Youth Awareness Month, the proclamation states how:

  1. Youth homelessness is complex and distinct from adult homelessness
  2. At least 25% of all people currently experiencing homelessness first experienced homelessness before their 25th birthday
  3. The Covid-19 Pandemic has put a spotlight on the service and resource gaps for youth experiencing homelessness, with providers serving youth struggling to meet the needs of young people who have no safe spaces to shelter in place and an inadequate safety net to hold them
  4. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will work with the Youth Advisory Board to prevent and end youth homelessness in countywide by engaging youth in the county homeless response system, … and establishing the YAB as a working board, group or committee.



September 2021

Grasping Federal Grant Programs (YHDP)

In September 2021, The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department selected Alameda County to participate in the Round 3 of the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program Grant. This effort has been and continues to be heavily led and driven by YAB members to create social interventions to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness in our county with a coordinated community- wide response call to action. 

Here is the Youth Action: A Way Home Plan

Winter 2021-2022

YHDP Update: Community Conversations

The YAB held multiple community conversations to support YHDP projects. 

April 25, 2022

Youth Homelessness Hearing

On April 25th, 2022, four Youth Advisory Board members, 12 youth commissioners from the Oakland Youth Action Commission and 2 leaders from the Career Technical Education Hub MADE HISTORY as the FIRST ever Youth Homelessness Hearing! At this special City Council hearing, the call to action to create a youth homelessness task force was heard by 94 attendees and supported by over 20 callers. Most importantly, the strong voices and heartbreaking stories of our youth leaders with lived experience touched the hearts of every listener and revealed the crisis that is a lack of urgent systematic response to youth homelessness in Alameda County. With the help of Council Member Sheng, we succeeded in convincing city leaders to begin creating a homeless youth task force targeting policy recommendations created by youths.

Read more about the first ever Youth Homelessness Hearing at the Oakland Voices news article or view a recording of the hearing.

May 2, 2022

The YAB visits LIFE Learning Academy

The YAB has been seeking to outreach to many different enti

ties that support youth and young adults between the ages 18-25, however it has been a goal for the YAB to engage with youth under the age of eighteen - minors. The Life Learning Academy was a foot into the door into understanding this subpopulation experience in the education system while experiencing housing insecurity. This academy is a public charter high school in the Bay Area to support the most vulnerable students in a supportive learning environment with the tools they need to reach self-sufficiency.. This is not your average high school due to the on-campus housing dorms for youth residents to stay connected with their education. The youth residents gave the YAB a tour of where the magic happens and how their day to day looks like living in an on-campus site. We sat down to enjoy lunch with the students and had a conversation about the YAB’s mission and vision statement. As wholesome as it was and continues to get, the YAB will find ways to incorporate minors into the legacy of our work. 




July, 2022

New Partnerships

In June 2022, the YAB transitioned out of ALL IN Alameda County who were administering the board in partnership with Blue Shield California and Covenant House, both having financially supported the YAB. In July, the YAB began a full partnership with Covenant House California and the Alameda County Office of Homeless Care and Coordination (OHCC), giving the YAB a physical location and integrating the YAB into the county’s Homeless Response System. 

August 25, 2022

Alameda Continuum of Care (CoC) approves Youth Committee

The YAB and adult allies established a Youth Committee within our local CoC and got approval from vote. The Youth Committee will be seated and active in late 2023.

October 2022

YHDP Update: Request for Proposals (RFP) Release

On October 27, Alameda County released the Request For Proposals (RFP), developed by youths and adult allies, for YHDP Round 3.

November 1, 2022

Proclamation: November National Runaway and Homeless Youth Awareness Month 

For the third year in a row, the YAB and adult allies, including allies from The Office of Homeless Care and Coordination and UC Berkeley, collaborated on writing a proclamation to the Board of Supervisors to declare the month of November as National Runaway and Homeless Youth Prevention Month. In this year’s proclamation, we identified that:

  1. Black Americans make up 10.7% of Alameda County’s general population, but make up nearly half of Alameda County’s unhoused population, and it is crucial that our systems of care address that Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) youth are at a greater risk of experiencing homelessness and face higher barriers to getting resources due to the systematic, institutional, interpersonal and internalized perpetuation of racism; and
  1. The idea that teens who run away from home can easily return if they wanted to is a myth and many youth who run away from home do not have anywhere to return to.
  1. The COVID-19 Pandemic has put a spotlight on the service and resource gaps for youth experiencing homelessness, with providers serving youth struggling to meet the needs of young people who have no safe spaces to shelter in place and an inadequate safety net to hold them.


November 15, 2022

US Interagency Council visits Oakland 

Jeff Olivet, Director of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, and Senior Regional Advisor Helene Schneider visited Oakland to take a tour of Covenant House and meet some members of Alameda County's homeless response team including OHCC and the YAB.

During this visit, we had the opportunity to share our work towards ending youth homelessness at the local level such as beginning to implement the YHDP grant, engaging in Direct Cash Transfer Projects and expanding professional and career development through YAB recruitment. We learned that our national leaders aim to tackle this crisis through a racially equitable lens with the understanding that youth homelessness cannot be prevented without addressing the root causes in systematic oppression against Black, Indigenous and youths of color.


November 16 - December, 2022

YHDP Update: Completing Phase 2

YAB members participated on the County Selection Committee to review and score proposals and are beginning to wrap up Phase 2: Planning of the YHDP.






December 6, 2022

Oakland City Council passes the resolution to create a Homeless Youth Task Force


The City of Oakland passes a resolution requesting that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Alameda County Board of Education, Peralta Community College District and Oakland Unified School District join the City of Oakland in establishing a Joint Agency Homeless Youth Task Force. The Task Force would be established to develop efforts to significantly address youth homelessness in Oakland by developing recommendations created by the Oakland Youth Action Commission, the Career and Technical Education HUB at 1025 2nd St and the Alameda Youth Advisory Board.

January 30th, 2023 & January 31st, 2023

California Coalition for Youth “Executive Advocacy Days”

The YAB took a trip to Sacramento to do face to face advocacy in front of senators to advance specific budget asks, service acts, and bills to support youth experiencing homelessness in California. We were sponsored by California Coalition for Youth and were given talking points to focus on the major investments that empower to improve the lives of all California's youth ages 14-24 with a specific focus on youth experiencing homelessness. This was something new to the YAB because we specialize at the local, community and county level in regards to policy advocacy. This was a memorable experience for us all and would like to thank our partners for making this happen. 

March 8, 2023

California Surgeon General Visits Alameda County

In early March, the YAB and partners had the honor of welcoming our newly appointed California Surgeon General Dr. Diana Ramos to come learn about the strategies and approaches to improve health outcomes for individuals and families in Alameda County. We got to share with Dr. Ramos who the YAB is and how our youth leadership impacted the transition aged youth health and wellness. In addition to our collaboration with county partners, as well as learning about the programs our partners are implementing in services for perinatal care, pregnant and parenting women, families with children, families who experienced infant loss and individuals experiencing homelessness. We learned that our county works with a racially equitable lens to uplift the needs of vulnerable and underrepresented populations such as conducting in-home visits for women who experienced the death of an infant, implementing a Direct Cash Transfer program for low-income pregnant women, and a program to uplift and empower Black women who are expected parents through staff representation. 

March 16, 2023

Collaborating with Youth Spirit Artworks and Covenant House Youth Residents

Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA) held a workshop with the YAB to teach youth how creative avenues are applied to produce news articles on social issues in the community. Based in Berkeley, YSA is a non-profit organization with the mission to empower homeless and low-income youth through job training in art and media. YSA, in partnership with unhoused residents, operates a local newspaper called Street Spirit that focuses extensively on human rights issues such as affordable housing, food insecurity and gaps in our justice system. In this meeting we learned about the programs and process for publishing an article with YSA. We sat there discussing the power of media and how it influences our daily lives - with that we all reconvene soon with a piece of art, poem, testimony etc that we would all like to see in the future publication. 

March 31, 2023

Office of Homeless Care and Coordination Film Night: A Thousand and One

On Friday, March 31st, 2023 YAB invited covenant house members, and other youth from our partnering organization to see a film that shines light on homelessness, foster care and the effects of gentrification. This is a very educational movie showing real life struggles of single parents trying to do the best they can for their children. If you’re considering seeing the film trigger warning for anyone with foster care experience, homeless experience or racism with the police department.

April 30th - May 2nd, 2023

California Coalition for Youth: Youth Empowerment Summit - Sacramento, CA

 
YAB members and Covenant House residents attended a 3-day long Youth Empowerment Summit hosted by the California Coalition for Youth (CCY) where young folks from across the nation attended personal and professional development workshops, learned about the work on homelessness between state and federal partners, and had the chance to network. We learned about six specific bills and legislations sponsored by CCY and met with assembly members and senators representing Alameda County to advocate for the approval of these bills aimed to prevent and end youth homelessness. This includes advocating for an increase in youth-allocated funding for our community, expanding consent for optical care to minors and increasing the age limit for Independent Living Programs for foster youth. 


June 16, 2023

YAB Members attend Beats, Rhymes, & Life event with Covenant House California Oakland 

The Alameda County’s Office of Homeless Care and Coordination hosted an event with Beats, Rhymes, & Life to produce an interactive workshop for youth and young adults. The YAB collaborated with Covenant House and other youth by expressing each other's creative side through music. This event impacted youth positively by bringing the community together in creating something everyone can be a part of. 


June 8th, 15th

California Interagency Council on Homelessness( CAL-ICH)

YAB members and Emerging Leaders alumni met with CAL-ICH where they presented the new 2023-2024 state plan and their action steps to end people experiencing homelessness. The first session was very informative about what they do and sharing their statewide plan to end homelessness through program, systems and funding enhancement. During the second session, Emerging Leaders alumni and YAB members had more opportunity to share questions, comments and feedback on the state plan about what’s working with some action items and what isn’t. From this session, we gathered from everyone’s comment an emphasis on lack of affordable housing available for existing program participants, and a lack of coordination between our leaders on homelessness and leaders in housing development.