Black Futures Ball will raise money for Oakland youth

The East Oakland Youth Development Center is hosting its first annual Black Future Ball on Saturday, August 6 to raise money for its Pathway to College and Careers Program. The gala and awards ceremony will honor 32 scholarship recipients and reward four community members for their work supporting and inspiring young people in Oakland with the “Champion for Youth” award.

The event will be hosted by EOYDC alumni and a Grammy-nominated artist from Oakland ryan nicole. bay area dj DCisChillin and Davey D. will provide the evening’s soundtrack with appearances by Goapele and jwalta former student of the EOYDC who recently taught spoken word to middle school students.

“The intent behind the ball is to bring the community together, centering black joy, to really invest in the future of our black and brown youth,” said EOYDC CEO Selena Wilson. All proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards funding the Pathway to College and Career Scholarship and Programming Fund.

The East Oakland Youth Development Center, or EOYDC, was opened in 1978. For the past 44 years, it has provided GED preparation, youth employment opportunities, counseling services, and physical development activities. .

About 90% of young people served by EOYDC programs are black and brown students from economically exploited and low-income households, Wilson said. The Pathway to College and Career program is free for participants and is designed to help young people from grades 9 through age 24 plan for their careers and college education.

EOYDC launched the Pathway program in 2003 and has distributed over half a million dollars in scholarships to more than 200 students since 2015, while building the social and leadership skills of young participants. In 2021, the Pathways program distributed $150,000 in scholarships to young people in Oakland. This will be the first year that EOYDC has organized an official gala to raise funds while celebrating fellows and community members.

Young people are invited to apply on line for college readiness support. Application reviewers consider economic factors such as expected family contribution, sociological factors and cumulative grade point average, as well as whether the student is connected to programs within the EOYDC. The 32 recipients of the Pathway program will receive scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $5,000. The fundraising gala is expected to provide more funds to serve youth in the fall.

Youth in the Pathway program also have the opportunity to experience a national college tour. Each year, EOYDC staff take students on nationwide college tours at no cost to their families. Tours of historically black colleges and universities are led by EOYDC alumni or current attendees. Wilson said it’s important for young people to see and communicate directly with someone in their own community about their experiences and challenges.

“It’s very unusual that you find a program where you can send your child on a college tour with no money. We feed them. We carry them,” Wilson said. “It’s through community engagement and events like this that we hope we can continue to do that.”

Oakland youth on an EOYDC college tour visiting Rice University. Credit: EOYDC

The theme for the Black Futures Ball will be “Oakanda”, playing on the concept of the fictional African nation of Wakanda from the Marvel films Black Panther and the sequel to come Black Panther: Wakanda Foreverboth led by Ryan Coogler of Oakland.

The dress code for the gala should be formal and semi-formal. EOYDC social media shared some fashion inspiration messages to give people ideas about what to wear, Wilson said. People of African descent can come in African attire. Customers are encouraged to try an upscale afro-futuristic and afropunk look to align with the Oakanda theme. Non-black guests are not encouraged to wear African print clothing.

“I recommend the apartments [shoes] because we want to keep people on a dance floor and visiting the different activations,” Wilson said. “If your heel game is up to it, go for it! But I will wear ballet flats.

The fundraising sponsorship tiers for the gala also play to the Black Panther theme, starting at the “Vibranium” tier ($25,000) and tapering down to Bronze ($2,500) and Silver ($1,500).

“Unfortunately this year we didn’t get a Vibranium sponsor,” Wilson said. “But we were able to get quite a number of Silver sponsors, Bronze sponsors and Oakanda sponsors, which are our smaller but powerful custom sponsors.”

As part of the festivities, four members of the community will also receive the ‘Champion for Youth’ award for being positive and uplifting influences. Winners include Oakland rapper and activist Stanley”Mistah FAB” Cox; current president of the Meadow Fund and former president of the Akonadi Foundation Lateefah Simon; Andre Chapman, Chair of Foster Youth Support Program Unit Heals; and Nehanda Imaraprofessor at Peralta Colleges and leader of the Black Cultural Zone community development team.

There will be a number of “activation hosts,” spaces that feature various Black-led organizations and businesses. Activation hosts include AfroComicCon, AR black terminus, Run the clothes of the world, Children’s art museum, AeroSoul Art, The city experience, Ade Dehyeand dark star universe.

“I really want to make sure people know how much their support for our young people means,” Wilson said. “It’s more than a transaction. It’s really a qualitative investment that means a lot to our young people.

The black future ball will take place at The courtyard of the bridge in West Oakland and is a 21+ event. Tickets are available for purchase. General admission is $125 per person and includes two drink tickets. A VIP ticket costs $250 and includes lounge access, a gift bag and three drink tickets. Group admission is $450 for four with food and drink tickets. For more information on East Oakland Youth Development Center programs and events visit their website or PageInstagram.

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