Oakland Digital “EDUCATION” Winner at East Bay Innovation Awards 2015

“Isee the future of the East Bay, breaking the mold, breaking this idea that everything has to be done a certain way. The biggest source of inspiration for us, and talent, are the students that make up the local community colleges… get those young people to be successful, to give back to communities through companies they create,” says Oakland Digital Executive Director Shaun Tai.

ARTICLE – Education: Private sector initiatives which pioneer innovative connections between the world of work and the world of learning to develop.

Shaun Tai, executive director of the Oakland Digital Arts & Literacy Center, compares the challenges of being an entrepreneur to his first ascent of Mt. Diablo as a new bike rider. “Everything in business seems easy after riding 44 miles and climbing 4,000 feet in elevation,” laughs Tai.

Tai, whose mother had a small business in Oakland, grew up there and graduated from California State University East Bay in 2009. He founded the nonprofit Oakland Digital in Oakland’s Chinatown to bridge the digital literacy and opportunity divide. In the process, Oakland Digital is also bringing together the generations and entrepreneurs that reflect the city’s diversity.

“In the 21st century, a small business’ ability to use social media and online technology tools is absolutely necessary to their survival,” says Tai. Many small business owners need to learn how to put digital technology to use, says Tai, and students need the experience of building a resume to find jobs in the East Bay’s growing tech sector.

The award-winning digital marketing agency trains young talent to create social marketing campaigns for under-resourced small businesses, while preparing them to connect to the jobs pipeline. Students learn career-related skills, have their resume and design portfolio reviewed by tech professionals and receive paid internships.

Download the East Bay Innovation Awards magazine: http://www.eastbayeda.org/ebeda-assets/reports/2015/2015EB_InnovationAwards_Insert.pdf.