I am the owner/founder of the education firm Lyfe Productives, based in Oakland, CA, a beautiful community that faces many challenges. Since the mid 1980’s drugs, violence, and a continuous lack of resources have plagued this city leaving many of our youth marginalized and in need of inspiration. I’m especially invested in creating a popular culture of consciousness and meeting the challenge of finding ways to make both standard and alternative education provocative for young people growing up in the inner-city.
I am 24 years old, and for the last 4 years I’ve been growing my work and presenting at Universities, High Schools, Middle Schools and various agencies locally, nationally and internationally, teaching in the United Kingdom and in Ghana, West Africa.
What I’ve found is that it’s necessary to educate young people on the root causes of the issues that exist in their communities, and find ways to empower them, inspire them to raise their own voices and validate their own personal visions for themselves and community.
Some of the subjects I cover are:
•The Cycles of Violence
•How and why drugs and alcohol exist in the inner-city
•History of the oppression of women in the US
•Hip Hop Analysis
In addition to being a community activist, I am a Spoken Word Hip Hop Theater Artist. As such, I’ve shared stages with a long list of renowned artists and performed on HBO Def Poetry Jam. That’s given me an effective platform to deliver on my opinion that Hip Hop and Spoken Word is not a movement, but a soundtrack for a movement. It’s essential for there to be real action behind all the words and music presented on stage or on any mic. So we I use Spoken Word and Hip-Hop as a vehicle to engage young people in dialogue about their vision for both themselves and their community and how they can maximize the potential of making these visions a reality.
Here’s the link to a PSA I was the feature for to stop gun violence in Oakland:
Toward my goal of educating and empowering young people, for the last four years, I’ve ran a 5 week long independent Summer Program called the Urban Living Summer Institute in Oakland, CA. Each year I hire and pay 5-10 (Yes, provide young adults with income!) young people with the same vision I have to help facilitate the program. The Urban Living Summer Institute focuses on young teenagers on their way to High School from Middle School, giving them grounding in the importance of education and social justice. We address many of the social issues they will encounter once they enter High School like peer pressure, drugs, sex education, and media influence. Each Summer 40 youth are served at this institute and their tuition, bus fare, meals, and field trips are provided at no expense. Funding for the program has been provided by private fund-raising efforts and this summer will be our 5th year!
This past summer, Lyfe Productives designed the marketing outreach plan for an agency here in the Bay Area that provides free mobile HIV/AIDS testing (CAL-PEP). Though they provide a cutting-edge service that addresses and helps prevent the spread of HIV, CAL-PEP had been struggling the past few years to get young people to come out and get tested. We partnered with CAL-PEP using the same model I use to go into classrooms and educate around social justice. I took information about HIV and AIDS awareness into High School and college campuses to inform and promote a Labor Day weekend event that provided the free testing. By the time the event was over we tested over 100 young people – far more than the agency had ever tested in at an event in its 15 year history! Everyone who got tested was given a raffle ticket, and at the end of the day we gave away a free flat screen television!
I currently facilitate teaching residencies in 8 Bay Area schools, and continue to travel and perform a message of empowerment to young people all over. Students, teachers, and administrators respond beyond well to my efforts, and there is a plethora of evidence that my work affects real change in my community. However, with the continuous school budget cuts and lack of resources often times schools that would love to have my services at their site are unable to, due to lack of funding. An award from the BRICK AWARDS would allow us to serve resource-strapped schools who can’t afford our programming at no cost to those schools or the students/families! Also, it would assist us in funding our Urban Living Summer Institute. Your consideration is greatly appreciated.