In Community, For Community, and By Community: Highlighting our Black-Led Community Partners

Lincoln’s commitment to disrupting cycles of poverty and trauma requires community collaboration. As a result, Lincoln pursues collaborative partnerships with mission-aligned organizations to find creative ways to empower and serve children and families. These partnerships allow for mutual strategic thinking, resource sharing, and problem solving for greater collective impact in Lincoln’s service hubs in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

Our community partners are expansive – whether formal partners through W.O.Z.E., the West Oakland Zone of Excellence, or fellow community based organizations we make referrals to, all help our staff at Lincoln do the work and build connections. Our community as a whole is stronger when we work together to understand the needs of youth and families and align to create system change.

“We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity.” ― Fred Hampton, American Activist

With solidarity in mind, August is a crucial month for recognizing and celebrating the work of our community partners. Why August? Because this month is Black August – an acknowledgment and commemoration of the countless organizers, activists, and freedom fighters in the name of Black pride and liberation. It differs from Black History Month and has been honored since the 1970s. The movement for Black August began in California prisons by Black freedom fighters who sought to honor the lives lost and bring awareness to anti-Black violence and systemic oppression. Black August lives on today when we remember and honor those lost – George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many more. Black August is a time for us to invigorate our mission towards opportunity, strength, and growth for all.

With that in mind, Lincoln’s programs aim to build resiliency for our youth and families with a focus on trauma-informed and culturally responsive care and service. One example of this is Lincoln’s West Oakland Initiative (WOI), an academic intervention and wellness program that integrates in-class supports, social-emotional development, parent engagement, and case management. WOI strengthens literacy rates and addresses educational equity among K-12th graders attending West Oakland public schools. Our culturally responsive staff provide supports, outreach, and engagement for parents, families, and the community to address this barrier to well-being and academic success.

Coupling our programs with our community partners, Lincoln is able to best adapt to the needs of the community and create pathways for strong community-based support systems. This Black August, we recognize and highlight three of our Black-led community partners who lead the way in providing services that are in community, for community, and by community.

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First, we highlight the Prescott-Joseph Center for Community Enhancement, Inc for their on-going commitment as a strong partner in W.O.Z.E. and for our Mandela Family Resource Center in Oakland. Prescott-Joseph is a multicultural, multi-service community resource center organized in 1995 in the Prescott district of West Oakland. Throughout the pandemic, Lincoln worked with Prescott-Joseph and others to organize “drive-by food giveaways” package grocery tote bags for delivery to residents in the Mandela Gateway Apartments, to distribute diapers and wipes to families, and to assemble educational materials and resources for families.

Another key partner in this work has been the Mandela Grocery Cooperative. The Cooperative was established in 2009 and is a worker-owned, full-service, 2,300 square foot grocery store located in West Oakland. Lincoln is deeply grateful for the Cooperative as it helps fill the need for healthy food options in a community that has been historically underserved in grocery retail and demonstrates how a cooperative can fill needs in a food desert. In conjunction with our work with First 5, Mandela Grocery partnered with us on the “Basic Food Bag” pilot project. This program served 20 West Oakland families with children ages 0-5 each month to shop for and receive a bag of food and basic hygiene items with a retail value of $90 per bag.

Lastly, Roots Community Health has been an essential referral for our staff and families especially through the pandemic. Roots was founded in 2008 with the mission of improving the status of health of East Bay residents. Roots implements its mission by providing high-quality, comprehensive and culturally appropriate health care, by implementing direct service models to increase access to care and prevent the need for emergency services, and by coordinating cross-agency liaisons to ensure a more efficient, continuum of care in East Oakland. Roots was one of the first healthcare organizations to pivot to providing care and testing for Covid-19 with free walk-up testing open to the whole community. Roots continues to serve our East Oakland families by administering Covid-19 vaccines and so much more.

We thank our community partners for their constant commitment and support – we could not do this work without you. As the proverb goes, “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” Together, we will go far on the mission of disrupting poverty and trauma in our community.

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