One cannot hold another down in the ditch without staying down in the ditch with him, and in helping the man who is down to rise, the man who is up is freeing himself from a burden that would else drag him down. For the man who is down, there is always something to hope for, always something to be gained.
Booker T. Washington


Project Legacy realizes the importance of changing negative mindsets in order to permanently change negative circumstances. Many of the youth we work with come from broken and highly dysfunctional homes. Many of our participants will have never had the opportunity to see anything outside of their surrounding environment; some will have never been outside of the cities they live in; and many have never had the experience of flying on an airplane, or even riding BART.

Participants are also likely to have no model for healthier, alternative ways of living, thinking, behaving, and surviving. These are all areas Project Legacy addresses, and experiences we prepare them for. We work to increase and strengthen their self-awareness, self-worth, respect for self and others, and their appreciation for their history, their education, and their community.

In 2010, we completed a pilot program. Oakland/Bay Area youth participated in monthly character education/leadership workshops; completed a community service project; and participated in a fundraising awards banquet and walkathon, which they helped develop.

We then, by plane and by car, took eight youth and four adult chaperones, on a trip across country, following in the footsteps of Booker T. Washington from slavery to freedom.

In 2011 we provided more workshops, and participated in our second walkathon. We partnered with a local Girl Scout troop, and we took a charter busload of 40 Bay Area children and 10 adults on a historical field trip to the historical Black town of Allensworth, California.

The program was delivered in locations easily accessible to public transportation. In 2010 we were provided space at no cost from the general manager of an office complex in East Oakland.

Project Legacy achieves this by:

  1. Providing character education/leadership workshops (Sixteen Success Principles Workbook)
  2. Teaching writing, speaking, and interview skills for school and in the workplace
  3. Matching youth ages 11 to 18 years-old with positive supportive mentors
  4. Giving them exposure to positive experiences, including:
  • Historical local and national trips, i.e., museums, theatre, historical landmarks
  • Genealogical tracing
  • Organized debating skills
  • Immersing them in positive stories about people who they can identify with who successfully overcame difficult circumstances, including within their own lineage
  • Consistently modeling examples of positive behavior
  • Offering case management services to those in need, i.e., tutoring, school supplies, community outreach and referrals
  • Helping to strengthen family dynamics by extending services to parents and family members who are key to their success , i.e., parenting and job readiness workshops, community outreach and referrals, volunteer opportunities
  • Engaging participants in community service projects

In 2011 we were offered a larger space from the former principal of ARISE Charter School, located just two doors down from the space we used in 2010. This was an improved space, as it was an actual classroom. Both spaces were located directly across from the Fruitvale BART Station, allowing participants to come from various locations.

From 2012 to the present we have been working diligently to build a stronger and larger program that will make a positive impact on a greater number of people.