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Higher Ground, Spikeview Team Up to Help Youth Get Head Start in Life

“Ours is an important mission in the development for youth. Kids are learning skills and becoming better members of their community. And our partnering with spikeview helps to document their learning journey and organize their interests, skills, and experiences.” 

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"Thomas, (center) a graduate of Higher Ground's programs, practices public speaking during a community meeting." Photo courtesy of Higher Ground.

People of all ages are faced with a huge question: “Who are you?” When you’re six years old, you can answer that question without any hesitancy. But when you get older, high school and beyond, the answer to “who are you” gets more important.

That’s the philosophy behind Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC) and spikeview’s goal to help young job applicants prepare themselves for landing a job after high school or getting ready to attend college. Potential employers and college admissions personnel want to know who you are in real life.

Higher Ground (HG) is a multi-service nonprofit designed to provide elementary education and supportive to schools, districts and county offices of education throughout the East Bay. HG acts as an information storehouse on school/community-based service coordination for youth and the organizations that serve them.

HGs mission is to provide services that address intellectual development of young people by providing comprehensive after-school programs; career to college workforce programming and professional development, among other services.

The spikeview platform was created for young people to own their own narrative and maximize their potential. The centerpiece of spikeview is a portfolio that helps teens organize their interests and accomplishments.  Employers and colleges are using spikeview to evaluate teens, rather than resumes and essays, because spikeview demonstrates soft skills that are impossible to present in old formats.

“Although most applications always ask for a resume, over 90% of employers say they don’t care about what’s on a resume,” said Khariyyah Shabazz, HG’s Workforce Development director. “What employers are actually interested in are answers to: what inspires you; how do you interact with a team; how do you treat people around you and what kind of things are you learning.

“Ours is an important mission in the development for youth. Kids are learning skills and becoming better members of their community. And our partnering with spikeview helps to document their learning journey and organize their interests, skills, and experiences.”

“Youth unemployment doubled in 2020,” added Shabazz. “An astonishing number of high schoolers are looking for skills training, internships, and tips to get into college. School is winding down, and time is of the essence for teens. Partnering with spikeview will help young people hear ‘Yes!’ from colleges and employers. It’s an online platform that shows the whole person behind an application.”

“Teenagers need to get a jump on this,” said Ekta Sahasi, founder and CEO of spikeview. “They need a way to catalog their interests and experience in a way that they can create focused stories about themselves.”

Sahasi is a mother of teenagers and wanted to be sure they had a secure way to organize their data without sacrificing privacy. She added, “Our users control their data, and we’ll never sell personal information to third parties.”

“At spikeview, we say ‘Own Your Narrative,’” continued Sahasi.  “That means taking control of the type of questions related to ‘who are you.’ Don’t let your personal story be defined by some random social media posts or boring resume. We want to help youth organize their thoughts so they will be able to present themselves professionally when pursuing work of educational opportunities.”

The spikeview platform is free to use.  It’s available in the Apple Store, Google Play Store, and was a web app.

For more information on Higher Ground, visit their website at www.highergroundndc.com or call 510.415.9271. For more information on Spikeview, visit https://spikeview.com/.

Bay Area

Council Approves Additional Public Safety Investments

Councilmember Thao’s amendments included direct investments in West, Central, and East Oakland, including West Oakland Community Centers, Central Oakland traffic safety, and Oakland 911 response. 

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Stop typography on a sidewalk in Sterling Virginia during the fall photo courtesy of Obi Onyeador via Unsplash

Councilmember Sheng Thao

Councilmembers, community leaders, and city staff,  approved public safety investments for Oakland recommended by Councilmember Sheng Thao

These additions, approved Monday afternoon, included investments that align with the city’s reimagining public safety goals. The City Council unanimously approved Councilmember Thao’s budget amendments, which included investments in:

  • Traffic Calming and Sideshow Prevention
  • Faster 911 Response
  • Restoring Foot Patrol officers in business corridors during the holiday season
  • Business District Ambassadors
  • Adding Public Restrooms near homeless encampments
  • Investments to job training and resources

“My top priority is public safety, which means addressing violent crime, street safety, poverty, and homelessness,” said Thao.

“These budget amendments invest in our community and increase our Police Department’s ability to prevent and respond to violent crimes. These amendments will also protect our business corridors so Oaklanders can feel safe while they shop, and in turn, invest in our Oakland businesses.”

Said Oakland Police Chief LeRonne L. Armstrong, “I would like to thank Oakland City Council Member Sheng Thao and other Council Members for their vote and support with additional funding.

“These funds will provide walking officers in our business districts across the city during this holiday season. The funds allow us to restore much needed public safety services, walking officers, while our community and visitors shop across our city.”

Councilmember Thao’s amendments included direct investments in West, Central, and East Oakland, including West Oakland Community Centers, Central Oakland traffic safety, and Oakland 911 response.

“These amendments also help address decades of divestment from our BIPOC communities in East Oakland,” she said. “By bringing investments into street safety, beautification, and city services. It is important that we stay committed to equity for East Oakland.

“Our office made a point to work with Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, Councilmembers Treva Reid and Loren Taylor to bring these amendments forward, and I thank them for their strong partnership in this work,” said Councilmember Thao.

 

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Bay Area

Where Do Negotiations Go Now After A’s “Howard Terminal” or Bust Ultimatum?

The A’s are seeking to develop 55 acres at the Port of Oakland. The proposal includes a 35,000-seat baseball stadium, which would cost $1 billion, or 8.3% of the total project.

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Oakland A's Photo Courtesy of Rick Rodriquez via Unsplash

FILE – In this Nov. 17, 2016, file photo, Oakland Athletics President David Kaval gestures during a news conference in Oakland, Calif. TheAthletics will be phased out of revenue sharing in the coming years as part of baseball’s new labor deal, and that puts even more urgency on the small-budget franchise’s plan to find the right spot soon to build a new, privately funded ballpark. Kaval, named to his new A’s leadership position last month, is committed to making quick progress but also doing this right. That means strong communication with city and civic leaders as well as the community and fan base. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

John Fisher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikki Fortunato

Rebecca Kaplan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oakland’s City Council rejected the A’s proposed non-binding term sheet, which the team had presented to the City along with an ultimatum, “Howard Terminal or Bust.”

At a packed City Council meeting last week, attended by 1,000 people on Zoom, many residents were angry at what they viewed as the A’s real estate “land grab” at the Port of Oakland and either said that the team should leave or stay at the Oakland Coliseum in East Oakland.
Rejecting the A’s term sheet, councilmembers at the July 20th meeting voted 6-1 with one abstention to make a counteroffer, approving city staff’s and Council’s amendments to the A’s term sheet.

Council’s vote was to continue negotiating with the A’s, and the A’s gained substantial concessions, $352 million, enough to return for further negotiations, in Oakland. The Council’s vote didn’t derail A’s pursuit of Las Vegas.

Now, over a week since Council’s vote, neither A’s President Dave Kaval nor owner John Fisher have spoken publically on the A’s intent to continue bargaining with Oakland for their proposed $12 billion waterfront development at Howard Terminal.

The A’s are seeking to develop 55 acres at the Port of Oakland. The proposal includes a 35,000-seat baseball stadium, which would cost $1 billion, or 8.3% of the total project.

In addition to the stadium, the development features 3,000 condominium/housing units; over a million square feet of commercial space (office and retail); a 3,500-seat performance theater, 400 hotel rooms and approximately 18 acres of parks and open space.

The most fundamental sticking point, along with all the other complications, is whether a commercial/residential development, ‘a city within a city,” in the middle of a working seaport are compatible uses for the land. Many experts are saying that the existence of upscale residences and thousands of tourists strolling around will eventually destroy the Port of Oakland, which is the economic engine of the city and the region.

According to Kaval, who had pushed for the Council to approve the ultimatum, “We’re disappointed that the city did not vote on our proposal … we’re going to take some time and really dig in and understand and ‘vet’ what they did pass and what all the amendments mean.”

Although the A’s stated a willingness to be open to the amended terms Council approved, Kaval expressed uncertainty whether the Council’s amended term sheet offers “a path forward.”

“The current [amended] term sheet as its constructed is not a business partnership that works for us,” said Kaval, saying the team would have to examine the Council’s counter-offer before deciding to resume negotiations or return to Las Vegas or focus on finding a new home someplace else.

City Council President Bas and Mayor Libby Schaaf joined city and labor leaders to discuss the Council’s vote. Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan made it clear that the amended term sheet the Council approved should be considered a “road map for future negotiations … a baseline for further discussions.”

Upon Kaval’s dismissal of the Council’s stated positions, Fife said, “I don’t know where we go from here,” abstaining from the vote on the proposed term sheet.

Many find Kaval’s statement confusing because he used words like partnership but apparently ignored and/or disregarded the City of Oakland – the A’s major stakeholder and a business partnership since 1968, more than 53 years.

Some are asking if the A’s understand that Oakland’s 53-year relationship with the team is the basis for the meme “Rooted in Oakland?” Are the A’s willing to accept, as the Council has determined, that the terms of the business “partnership” must be equitable and mutually beneficial for all of “us”?

And the question remains after a 53-year relationship, is it reasonable to terminate that relationship or negotiate further for an equitable and mutually beneficial business partnership?

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Bay Area

East Oakland Fire Brings the City’s Struggle with Homelessness Into Light

Just after midnight on July 24, 2021, an empty warehouse in the Melrose District of East Oakland caught fire; by 12:30 a.m. the structure was engulfed in flames, the intense heat snapping power lines and causing nearby transformers to blow, leaving nearly 1,500 customers without power.

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Firefighter sprays water toward the remnants of a structure that caught fire in the early morning hours of July 24, 2021. The intense heat snapped power lines and blew transformers leaving 1,486 customers without service (Photo Credit/ Franklin Avery)

Just after midnight on July 24, 2021, an empty warehouse in the Melrose District of East Oakland caught fire; by 12:30 a.m. the structure was engulfed in flames, the intense heat snapping power lines and causing nearby transformers to blow, leaving nearly 1,500 customers without power.  

Days before the fire, a homeless encampment with a few tents were pitched up against an outside wall of the wood warehouse, according to a resident of the neighborhood. 

Early Sunday morning, just before 1 a.m. an alert of a structure fire went out on the Citizen app. Videos posted by citizens in Oakland showed different angles of a two-story structure on fire on the corner of 12th St. and 45th Ave near High Street. 

According to an eyewitness account, the building was completely engulfed in flames at 12:30 a.m. Firefighters arrived on the scene at 12:40 a.m. and went to work on the flames, containing the fire to the warehouse and preventing it from threatening nearby buildings. 

An apartment building next door was evacuated for a short time. One resident hosed down the roof as large embers threatened the building before firefighters arrived. Eyewitness video shows firefighters walking through a smoke-filled hallway of the apartment building. 

Although the fire is still under investigation, an eyewitness to the fire and resident of the Melrose District, Franklin Avery, recounted his experience. “Two evenings ago, while walking my dog Roosevelt, I met up with Gerald, one of the street people I know…He confirmed my suspicion that one of the new tents that was placed on the sidewalk caught fire. He was there at the time, and he said that he tried to put it out by running across the street to the smog place to get buckets of water to throw at the blaze. Gerald said that the fire kept spreading because he couldn’t run back and forth fast enough.” 

As Oakland struggles with a swelling homeless population, fires in encampments have tripled over the past 2 years, according to a KTVU article.   

Garbage, hazardous materials, cooking equipment, generators, and illegal wiring have contributed to many of the fires throughout Oakland, adding pollution to the air and burnt out structures and cars dotting the landscape. Housed residents worry about keeping their homes safe from fire. What is the solution? 

In 2019, Oakland opened its first 24/7 safe rv parking location for recreational vehicles. Today there are three sites open to the homeless with a fourth planned. Each site has power and plumbing. No fires have been reported at any of the sites to date. More resources need to be put into finding all the unhoused safe, sanitary living conditions. 

Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan told The SF Chronicle “When RVs are parked in managed locations with proper utilities, they don’t tend to have fire problems.”

Information in this article is sourced from eyewitness accounts, Citizen app, KTVU, and The San Francisco Chronicle.

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