"I'm up and down 73rd Avenue pretty often and I just notice that there's a lot of youth that need a productive place where they can feel at home, feel safe," Chris Colter, who has worked as a licensed barber in Oakland for more than a decade, told ABC7 News. "Hopefully we can establish this barber college and create some professional barbers so they at least have hope."
The name? "Oakland Barber Academy" -- which he hopes will bring education, career and entrepreneurial opportunities to the community.
In a campaign video he posted online to raise money, Colter says the barber academy would "prevent displacement and keep those from Oakland in Oakland."
"Barbering changed my life," Colter said. "I want other people to experience that. Those who are on the brink of knowing whether or not they're going to college."
Colter has launched a Indiegogo campaign to raise the money. He is two weeks into his 30-day fundraising effort.
Building a better Bay Area one ✂️at a time: Chris Colter has been working as a barber for more than a decade. He’s now doing something pretty cool — working to open an “Oakland Barber Academy” in East Oakland — and is asking the community for help: https://t.co/l0jmxJDZWN 👨🦱✂️ pic.twitter.com/rwGRH98qdu— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) August 30, 2019
Tom Datcher is a businessman and longtime client of Colter's who has donated to the campaign. He said there are many benefits to a career in barbering.
"You can be an entrepreneur, you own your own hours, build your own business," Datcher said.
"It plays a really big role in the African-American community, the barbershop does," he added, "And so having folks like Chris who are really involved in the business but also part of the community just makes a material difference."
Colter envisions opening the college at the Eastmont Town Center mall in east Oakland.
"Eastmont mall is a historical place," he explained. "It has a special place in people's heart in east Oakland and right now they could use some revitalizing and OBA, we plan to give it that."
Colter also hopes to partner with local businesses to offer scholarships to make the program more affordable.
It's a big undertaking all in an effort to build a better Bay Area.
To contribute and learn more about the initiative go here.
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