Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Oakland At Work: A conversation at the NonProfit Roundtable


Oakland at Work

A conversation at the Nonprofit Roundtable

By Jerry Metzker

Biotech Partners

Co-Chair of the Nonprofit Roundtable


The April Oakland Chamber Nonprofit Roundtable meeting focused on workforce development and how it leads to economic development.

Enjoying delicious pastry from The Bread Project, a local service organization that trains individuals with limited resources for employment in the food industry, the meeting commenced with a conversation of how employment has a positive effect not only on personal financial situation, but also on self-esteem, personal value, self-efficacy and the community. Jobs bring individuals real lessons that carry them through life.

Lorraine Giordano and Margot Prado of Oakland’s office of economic and workforce development shared the three workforce/economic goals for the city: 1) provide training for entry level positions, including a focus on self-sufficiency; 2) assisting employers with training needs for current workers; and 3) support a jobs center near the former Oakland Army base, particularly focused on expanding the Port of Oakland.

 A recent strategic planning process identified six specific employment growth opportunities for Oakland: 1) arts and digital media; 2) food production and distribution; 3) green industry; 4) healthcare and bioscience; 5) international trade and logistics; and 6) retail. The presenters noted that Oakland is ideal and has tremendous strength in small business development, and is developing more strategies to improve prospects for youth. The higher the employment rate the lower the crime rate.

Partner presenters Manuel Garvin of Youth Uprising and me from Biotech Partners shared different opportunities for guiding youth through their education and into the workforce. Since 1993, Biotech Partners has been supporting youth from populations underrepresented in the bioscience industries through high school, into higher education and well-paid entry-level lab positions. The target population includes children of color, low income youth and girls. A feature of this academic and workforce development program is paid internships in the bioscience field, a growing industry in the Bay Area.

Youth Uprising matches workforce development to social enterprises. Its youth and young adults receive paid on-the-job training under the guidance of experienced professionals in Data Management, Input and Research; Janitorial and Light Industrial Services; Digital Media, Design, Music, and Video Production; and Catering and Food Services. Garvin especially noted that its Corners Café has a student manager and is available for catering.

Both Biotech Partners and Youth Uprising noted the importance of attaching income to their training programs and provide workforce development in areas identified by the Oakland Office of Economic Development as target growth areas for the City.

For more information from presenters, contact them:

Lorraine Giordano of Oakland Office of Economic Development (lgiordano@oaklandnet.com)

Margot Prado of Oakland Office of Economic Development (mprado@oaklandnet.com)

Manuel Garvin of Youth Uprising (mgarvin@youthuprising.org)

Jerry Metzker of Biotech Partners (jerry.metzker@bayer.com)


As Executive Director of CARD (Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters), Roundtable Co-Chair Âna-Marie Jones reminded everyone that April was preparedness month and led a fun interactive exercise on the multiple uses of a sealable plastic sandwich bag. (amj@cardcanhelp.org)

The Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s Nonprofit Roundtable meets in the Chamber Boardroom on the third Tuesday of each month from 2:30-4:30 pm, providing the opportunity for the community benefits and the private sector to interact to make a difference in the Oakland Community and beyond. All are welcome.

The next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, May 15, 2012, from 2:30-4:30pm. Discussion topics and presenters will center on financial needs and opportunities. For more information, contact Triche Christmon at tchristmon@oaklandchamber.com.

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