In 2010 YGB was a program of the Oakland Unified School District known as the Oakland Ensemble built in collaboration with the annual OUSD MLK Oratorical Festival. After one year we became Young Gifted and Black, moving out of OUSD and being housed and supported at the Merritt College Office of African American Studies. We spent 2 years at Merritt engaging with the rich history of the college and their Black Panther legacy. It was during this time that the OUSD Office of African American Male Achievement was formed, and served as a key partner to YGB at its inception. This partnership with AAMA provided the security for our move from Merritt to Oakland School for the Arts and helped maintain our connection with Oakland Unified. With the support of the administration at OSA, we were given free space and encouraged to recruit youth from outside and inside the school to participate in our work. This relationship was beneficial both for YGB and for the school, as now many of our members attend or have attended OSA. With a shift in the administration and their budget priorities, it was made clear that in order to stay at OSA we would have to raise money for the school. Anyone who has paid attention to the work we do and how we spend the money we raise, could see that this arrangement would not be sustainable for us. This year we are transitioning out of OSA and remain very appreciative of their generosity over the years in support of our work. We are thankful to have had this time in collaboration and to close this chapter on our legacy.
For the 2018 - 2019 school year we have been invited to be a part of the 50th Anniversary of Black Studies in the Berkeley Unified Schools District. We will be holding our rehearsals at Washington Elementary School and Berkeley High School respectively. We are very excited about engaging YGB in Berkeley, and providing even greater access to the organization for the youth and families of Berkeley Unified Schools District. We anticipate this transition to be smooth as we have already had many youth from Berkeley as members of YGB including the former Youth Director Ikera Davis and several other YGB founders who attended Berkeley High School.
YGB will remain open and available for youth and families from Oakland and throughout the Bay Area to join and participate. We will continue to be present for AAMA and other organizations in Oakland who have maintained a partnership with us and our work. We will be performing at the Life is Living Festival in West Oakland, and continue our long standing relationships with Sole Space, OMCA, Youth Speaks and other organizations, businesses and agencies that work in Oakland. This year we plan to make a concerted effort to increase our engagements in Berkeley and are honored to be invited to be housed at another historic foundational department of African American Studies. We will be a big part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations, and help take this Berkeley story everywhere we go during this next school year. We are excited to raise awareness in Berkeley of our work, and to provide pathways for youth and families to get involved in YGB.
For information about how to become a part of YGB please explore this website. If you have youth that want to join, hit the "JOIN" button and fill out the form. If you want YGB to present at your event hit the "BOOK YGB" button and fill out the form. We want to remain available for our community to provide a boost of pride and determination for everyone we engage.
YGB is currently accepting new members at all levels. If interested please press the join button and fill out the form. We are excited to begin a new chapter in the story of Young Gifted and Black.