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A Letter from our Founder. Introducing Catalyst Youth Network.

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

Dear Friends,

Being a Bay Area native, my whole life I have seen the disparity in opportunity available to kids who come from rich or poor communities. Surrounded by so much wealth, I was acutely aware that in so many ways I was a part of the “have nots” in my social circles. As I grew up, I began to understand that even though I grew up poor, my white privilege still afforded me more resources and opportunities than many of my Black or Brown neighbors.

In Oakland specifically, a lack of equity in education and resources available to youth is a symptom of larger social-economic issues. Poverty and homelessness are on the rise, putting families on the street. Oakland youth are among the most vulnerable in the state; 70% of humans trafficked in the Bay Area are under the age of 18 and over 50% of them come from Oakland(a). While the San Francisco Bay Area is the 18th-largest economy in the world, the wealth gap has widened here and the poor are suffering.

Catalyst Youth Network was conceived from a deep sense of responsibility to help close the opportunity gap faced by the youth of Oakland everyday.  We have set out to create a centralized network of excellent, existing service providers and job opportunities, with the youth of Oakland at the center. We will create a holistic, customized plan and offer consistent support through young adulthood to each child in need. Our team has significant expertise working in youth development in Oakland and the Bay Area and a deep personal understanding of how access to mentors, resources and opportunities can change the trajectory of a young person's life.

We didn't set out pretending we had all the answers, but we have a vision to see an Oakland where every young person has the access to opportunities and resources they need to find strength, health and success. We started by interviewing experts in Oakland like teachers, nonprofit experts, social workers and students, with the question if money and resources were no object, how could we tailor make a program that would best serve the youth of Oakland.

As indivduals and as an organization, we are committed to be anti-racist and stand against racism in all its forms. We are committed to do what we can to end the disparities that have robbed our Black neighborhoods of financial resources, education, college preparation, career training and mental health. We affirm the truth that Black Lives Matter and commit to leverage everything we can to bring equity in these areas for the youth of Oakland.

As an organization serving the youth of an incredibly diverse and beautiful city like Oakland, we also understand that the systems we function in have perpetrated injustices that affect more than just our Black youth. We will advocate for all our youth who experience disenfranchisement and injustice, including but not limited to those who are part of the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.

We are a new nonprofit taking root in the heart of West Oakland, with the partnership and support of people like you. Your help at this time will be key to kick starting our work serving kids and their families.     

Help Catalyst Youth Network TAKE ROOT in Oakland to help our youth grow! 

Big dreams need DEEP roots.

Big dreams need STRONG roots.

Big dreams need HEALTHY roots.


Robert Rickett

Founder/ Executive Director


(a) Alameda County District Attorney

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