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Oakland Raiders came to support Youth at Holiday Party

Chimdi Chekwa, cornerback for the Oakland Raiders, and some of his teammates, came to support the First Place for Youth holiday party on December 12, 2013. Chimdi brought toys to the kids and spoke to the youth. He and his teammates also signed autographs and took photos with youth, while enjoying the festivities.

First Place youth go to Warriors Game

On Wednesday, November 20, 2013, seven moms with their children with invited to attend the Holiday Oracle Zone Family Game Experience, where they went to see the Golden State Warriors play against the Memphis Grizzlies. The group got a tour of the Oracle Arena, got to see the team during warm ups, and were featured on the Jumbotron at half time.


Youth Thanksgiving Party

First Place hosted it's annual Youth Thanksgiving Party on Thursday, November 14 from 3pm- 5pm at the First Steps Community Center. The meal was prepared and provided by volunteer, Lois Corrin. Thank you Lois! The women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority contributed to the Thanksgiving baskets that will be available for youth to take home. Thanks to the volunteers helped us that day!

First Place 4th Annual Maximum Impact Golf Tournament

Maximum Impact Golf Tournament was a great success

We are proud to announce the 4th Annual Maximum Impact Golf Tournament on Monday, September 30 at the Mira Vista Golf and Country Club in El Cerrito was sold out! We thank Mira Vista and Kaiser Permanente for all that they did to ensure that the day was memorable. We appreciate First Place for Youth participant Adonis Pollard for sharing his incredible story. Thanks to Dan Dibley from The Rise Guys, on 95.7 THE GAME, for being our Master of Ceremonies.

It is through the care and compassion of those that have signed up to golf and sponsors of the event that we can provide excellent services to our youth. Some of the sponsors of the event include: LFA Group, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Mike & Mary Conn, John & Kathy Sheirman, Hilda West, Tom Wilson, Keith Schultz, Liz Reilinger, Tom Witmer, Susan Tully and The Lucasfillm Foundation.

All proceeds from this event go towards providing current and former foster youth in our programs with housing, education and employment support services.

Save the date on Monday, October 6, 2014 for our 5th Annual Maximum Impact Golf Tournament. Hope you will come out to support the youth!

Mira Vista Golf Course


Refreshing and Restoring of First Steps Community Center

The First Steps Community Center, located in downtown Oakland, received some tender loving care through the United Way of the Bay Area's (UWBA) Week of Caring on September 20th. A team of volunteers from Chevron, along with the staff and youth at the First Steps Community Center worked tirelessly together to paint and spruce up the center! The volunteers got a chance to learn about First Place for Youth's programs, interact with the youth and worked hard to make the center look like new again!

The First Steps Community Center is a place where youth come to receive community resources and referrals, and take part in community building and educational workshops.

Thank you Chevron and UWBA!




My First Place Los Angeles Update

On July 16 th , 2010, First Place for Youth Los Angeles moved its first 6 youth into housing. Since then, First Place Los Angeles has housed 93 youth through the My First Place program. Thanks to the hard work of the LA staff and so many people, throughout the past three fiscal years, Los Angeles has had significant improvement in almost every major program outcome. In this month’s newsletter, we will take a careful look at the trends of MFP LA over the past three fiscal years. The first, and most straightforward, aspect of growth in LA to highlight is the number of youth housed by MFP. The My First Place program in Los Angeles has shown exponential growth each fiscal year; growing from housing 33 youth in FY11 to 79 youth in FY13.

The improvement and growth in LA not only revolves around the quantity of services provided, but the quality as well. Taking a closer look at three of our major program outcomes (education, employment, and housing) at exit, there was a visible and large improvement across the board in the past fiscal year alone. We saw increases in the percent of eligible youth who obtained a high school diploma or GED while in program, the percent of youth who were employed at exit, and the percent of youth who exited program into stable housing.

The in-program trend for Los Angeles is equally impressive. Looking back at the historic data, we can see dramatic improvement in education and employment trends in Los Angeles (see Fig. 3). In July 2012, 38% of active youth in Los Angeles were unemployed and not enrolled in school, compared to 24% who were employed and enrolled in school. Twelve months later in July 2013, the POS levels indicate that only 8% of active youth in Los Angeles were unemployed and not enrolled in school, compared to 55% of active youth who were employed and enrolled in school, a dramatic turnaround from FY12.

In addition to excellent staff in LA, the dramatic improvement in major program outcomes can be attributed to program retention, for which the positive correlation between length of stay in program in successful programmatic outcomes has been well documented. In FY12, the average length of stay in MFP of youth who exited was 333 days. In FY13, that average increased to 538 days.

First Place is excited by these results and looking forward to seeing the increased outcomes for the youth in LA as the program continues to grow. Congratulations Team LA!



Foster youth team advocates for others in care

By Susan Winlow From page A1 | July 29, 2013 |

FAIRFIELD — Tanya Ortega just graduated from high school and is beginning college in the fall.

She is also working.

As a foster youth, the 18-year-old has bucked the statistics that show fewer than 60 percent of foster youths graduate from high school and fewer than 5 percent finish college. Fewer than 50 percent are employed.

At age 8, Ortega’s mother surrendered her and her siblings when she couldn’t care for them after the father left two years prior. When Ortega was 10, her mother’s parental rights were terminated. She harbors no grudges.

“I wasn’t mad at my mom,” she said. “I understood she couldn’t support us. I was actually mad at my dad for leaving us.”

In elementary school, she was left contemplating life without a mother. She was scared, she said, but still felt what her mother did, she did “for the best.”

Her story is one of several that make up the foster youths and former foster youths involved in the Youth Action Team, which is part of the Independent Living Skills Program and First Place for Youth.

“The Youth Action Team is the voice for other foster youth,” Ortega said as she sat in one of the offices of the First Place for Youth building on the corner of Travis Boulevard and North Texas Street. Group members help their peers and they also work with foster parents, social workers and anyone interested in learning about foster youth.

“They put together a presentation and go out and talk to adults in the community who work with foster youth,” said Tiffany Puckett, the Independent Living Skills program supervisor. A lot of focus is on understanding and communicating with the youths, she  said.

As she sat in the office, Ortega was getting ready to participate in a meeting to discuss the graduation ceremony Youth Action Team conducted recently. Members laughed and joked during the meeting, showing a clear bond that only they could understand, given what life had given them. They also prepared for a life skills workshop they were putting on at the Solano County Office of Education for foster youth.

“Everyone comes from different paths in life,” said Jacquie Hernandez, 18. “I think it’s cool how we get together and try to improve things.”

Part of the presentations they give involve opening up and telling their stories. They give their views on what it’s like to be in foster care, so others can better understand their struggles. They’ve opened up to varying degrees, but all said the initial step in telling their story was a tough one.

Ortega tells her story mostly with ease. Hernandez, not so much.

“I haven’t told it yet but I’ve kind of used examples,” she said. “In a sense, I’m scared. I just kind of want to let it go . . .”

Susan Harris, the education advocate for First Foundation/Independent Living Skills Program, said Hernandez is still living her story.

“Not only is she going through (it) but she’s trying to educate and shed light on the whole process,” Harris said.

Harris said being part of the Youth Action Team shows participants they have a voice and can advocate for others based on their experiences.

“We’re able to support them in finding their voice,” she said.

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or swinlow@dailyrepublic.net. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.


 First Place for Youth hosted our annual Youth Summer BBQ on Saturday, June 8 at Mosswood Park in Oakland.  Over 150 guests came out to enjoy summertime activities, great food,, music, fun games and crafts, and a youth talent show.  The BBQ is an annual event specifically for current and former foster youth in our community, many of whom are in First Place’s housing program. 


First Place for Youth

426 17th Street, Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510.272.0979

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