$3M Capital Campaign: An Oakland Community Place

Written by Designer & Journalist, Melody Stone

A problem with many facets: As real estate prices continue to rise many local non-profits are struggling to find affordable operating spaces. Additionally, budding local design talent lacks the community to gain experience and build their portfolios close to home. Bay Area tech companies need a diverse pipeline of talent.  

A recent study found 82 percent of middle-skill jobs require basic digital proficiency. Last year, we had 500,000 open computing jobs nationwide, yet produced less than 43,000 computer science graduates. The digital divide creates extreme economic disadvantages, as non-digital jobs pay substantially less.

Our solution: one place to bring together all these parties to create a thriving and healthy nonprofit community and a diverse and competitive pipeline for local community-minded design talent (e.g., UX / UI / Graphic Artists).

BRIDGEGOOD is a product out of Oakland Digital and supported by Google.org, Golden State Warriors Community Foundation, and Walter & Elise Haas Fund. The platform brings together creatives and non-profits. It’s founder, Shaun Tai’s vision to take the platform offline and into a brick and mortar space in the heart Oakland.

Modeling the concept after Google’s Community Space in San Francisco (188 The Embarcadero), the location would serve as free operating space for 501(c)(3)’s and free coworking for budding Oakland & East Bay talent (in exchange for completing three design projects a month for non-profit members).

Entry level designers and creatives would get experience working on real-world community projects. This would build out the talent pool available to tech companies in the Bay Area, with the aim of increasing diversity and inclusion within tech.

This bold and ambitious project has the potential to solve problems within the tech industry and the Oakland & East Bay non-profit community.

“It’s about economic mobility, building a pipeline of talent for tech, business and the creative world and it’s about tech equity. It’s about leveling the playing field for those who are entering the world of design,” says Tai.

 

WHY OAKLAND?

The city of Oakland is 55 percent African American, but only 13.5 percent of tech jobs are held by African Americans. Oakland Digital focuses on developing creative talent in community colleges to create a diverse talent pipeline. Creating a physical space where those connections can be made and talent can be foster will help bridge the diversity gap even more.

“Oakland Community Place will compliment what exists in the Oakland ecosystem while filling gaps: free access to job training, leadership development, and professional opportunities,” explained Tai.

The Numbers

5%

Vacancy rate for office spaces in Oakland.

 

80%

Increase for downtown office space rents from 2014 to 2016.

 

55%

Of Oakland residents are African American.

 

13.5%

Of tech jobs are held by African Americans.

 

Together, let’s design the future of work. Oakland Digital is in the process of creating the ‘Oakland Community Place’ – a vibrant 10,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility for Nonprofit Employees & Student Creatives. We would like to hear from you – be a co-creator and share your ideas! To attend, register at http://oaklandplace.eventbrite.com. Video with Mayor Libby Schaaf | http://bit.ly/oaklandcommunity. Make a donation | www.oaklanddigital.org/donate.