East Oakland community leaders launch major initiative to invest $100 million into the 40x40

Amanda del Castillo Image
Thursday, August 24, 2023
East Oakland leaders raising $100 million for the 40x40
East Oakland community leaders announced a major initiative to put $100 million back into the 40x40 neighborhoods.

EAST OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- East Oakland community leaders announced a major initiative to put $100 million back into the community.

The multi-million dollar investment will go toward improving an area known as the 40x40, which is home to the largest concentration of Black Oakland flatlands residents.

Rise East, which is the collective behind the effort, shared a five-part strategy for the 40x40, which includes improving schools, boosting economic opportunity, and improving health and well-being at the individual, household, neighborhood and systemic level.

For those who aren't familiar, the 40x40 runs from Seminary Avenue to the Oakland-San Leandro border and from MacArthur Boulevard to the Bay.

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On Thursday morning, East Oakland leaders announced the effort to keep Black families in the area and to bring back families who have been displaced because of economic barriers and systemic disinvestment.

"As young people raised in the area and now serving as leaders, our vision is for a robust and vibrant renaissance in legacy Black communities -- vibrant, thriving Black Arts, cultural and commercial areas in a thriving economy and ecosystem powered by collective efforts that assure our inalienable human right to love, health, wellness, belonging, power, safety and self-determination," Carolyn "CJ" Johnson said. Johnson is the CEO of the Black Cultural Zone and member of the 40x40 Council.

In a release, Rise East said Oakland is one of a few communities selected by Blue Meridian Partners to receive $50 million in philanthropic capital. In the meantime, the collective said it's working to raise the other $50 million in local funding.

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At Thursday's announcement, Mayor Sheng Thao, OUSD Superintendent Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammel, members of the Rise East collective and a number of other East Oakland leaders were present.

"I applaud the East Oakland community leaders and everyone that has been working tirelessly toward the Rise East initiative and securing this investment in East Oakland," Thao said. "My Administration is committed to working in partnership with this coalition to ensure the resources needed for the health and vitality of our East Oakland residents are provided to address historic inequities and ensure current residents continue to call this community their home."

According to the organizers, the area at the center of it all is home to more than 30,000 residents. It's said to be the largest concentration of Black residents who remain across Oakland flatlands today.

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Rise East reported in its release that Black families who live in the group's focus area have the lowest household income and life expectancy among Black residents compared to other racial and ethnic groups.

The investment announced on Thursday morning is billed as an unparalleled opportunity to build and rebuild the Oakland the community deserves.

For information on Rise East and this investment effort, visit its website.

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