The Oakland Jobs Foundation is pleased to announce a donation of

$50,000 to the Cypress Mandela Training Center.  This donation will help Cypress Mandela continue their efforts in providing free job training and placement assistance for Oakland and Bay Area residents.   


The Cypress Mandela Training Center is a community based organization dedicated to improving the lives of the people it serves by providing pre-apprentice construction and life skills training along with employment assistance.  


The 16-week pre-apprenticeship program includes both classroom and hands-on instruction for Bay Area men and women over 18 years old.  This program ensures graduates are qualified and well-prepared for a variety of job positions.


Read More about Cypress Mandela here:

On Wednesday, Oakland’s community and business leaders gathered alongside elected and appointed officials to witness the Oakland Jobs Foundation present the Men of Valor with a $100,000 donation to their program.  


This donation will create training opportunities for Oakland residents in under-served communities.


The Men of Valor provides intensive re-entry training and job assistance to men who desperately need support, in order to have a chance at a better future for themselves and their families. 


Read More about the here: Men of Valor 






Terrence Holman’s Story
Assistant Director, Men of Valor

Once I started getting in trouble with the law, it spiraled out of control.  Unless you change, once you get in trouble with the law, you are always in trouble with the law.  Once the police know you, they scrutinize you; they question you.  I wouldn’t call it profiling. I put myself in the position to come into contact with the police.  I was the guy hanging out on the corner making transactions.  I thought I was being inconspicuous.  In hindsight, you can’t be inconspicuous standing on the corner.

I was raised by a single mother.  I never really knew my father.  I was born in San Francisco, and grew up in East Palo Alto, then Berkeley.  When we moved to Berkeley, it was the early 1970’s, the height of the hippie movement.  There were drugs everywhere. 

I smoked my first joint when I was 12 years old.  By the time I was 14 years old, I had progressed to using cocaine.  From then on, it was an on and off again battle with drugs.  I would eventually come to the idea that I needed help, but I travelled down a long, circuitous road before I arrived at this conclusion.

I dropped out of school the second semester of 12th grade. I went to the East Bay Skills Center when I was 19 years old.  It was a fantastic place. By the time I finished the program, I was computer literate.  I got a part-time job with a corporate lawyer in San Francisco.  But I was using drugs and it started to show.  I knew I wasn’t ready to give up drugs, so I stopped showing up.

I went back to the street.  That job was always available to me.  The fast money was exciting.  You didn’t have to answer to anyone.  There was no punching a time-clock.  If I had put half the effort I put into doing wrong into doing right, it would have been good enough.  Unfortunately, most people go through rough times to make changes.  Ironically, most of the rough times are self -inflicted.

The last time I was incarcerated was 2004, because of a probation violation.  I was in my 40’s.  It kept going through my mind, I’m too old for this.  I was trying to talk to the younger guys, but why would they listen to me?  I was just like them.  I decided to live my life by example.

I enrolled in the Men of Valor Academy.  The six months I spent in the program changed my life.  When I started the Academy, I felt pretty hopeless and worthless.  My self- esteem and self-image was very low.  I felt I had nothing going for me.  I was even contemplating suicide.  When I finished the program, all of that had changed.

When I graduated, I had two job offers.  I went to Atlanta, Georgia to work in real estate.  I returned to Oakland in 2007 and was offered a position at the Men of Valor as a night monitor. 

I have continued to grow during my tenure at the Men of Valor.  Today, I am the Assistant Director and Program Manager. Now I help change lives just the way my life was changed.



In The News

Oakland is going through the best of times and the worst of times. The city is experiencing an unprecedented economic boom, but there are too many Oaklanders that are being left behind.


The newly formed Oakland Jobs Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to sustaining and augmenting job training programs for Oakland’s marginalized populations, and addressing issues of unemployment that plague parts of the city.


The foundation is in a unique position to address the disparities underserved populations face in Oakland because the lion’s share of the foundation’s donations will come from developers and large employers.


“While many accuse developers and large businesses of ignoring the need of underserved residents, the fact is that when developers create new projects, they provide a variety of community benefits. Too often these benefits don’t benefit the entire community,” said Greg McConnell the president of the Oakland Jobs Foundation, as well as its companion organization, the Jobs and Housing Coalition.


“Developers and employers want to hire locally as a true community benefit, but cannot find enough qualified individuals. Those who have the skills are already working,” McConnell continued. “Those who need jobs often don’t have the necessary skills,” he added.


“The Oakland Jobs Foundation addresses that dilemma. It supports local training and hiring programs that teach job skills and expand employment opportunities,” explained Mimi Rohr, the foundation’s executive director.


“The foundation will identify and fund existing training programs, help fund new programs, promote local hiring practices of program graduates, and then monitor results,” Rohr added.

The formation of the foundation marks the first time developers and large employers have undertaken a systematic effort of their own to tackle the employment crisis that plagues Oakland.


“Unfortunately, too many training programs do not result in work for their participants. The Oakland Jobs Foundation has an advantage, because it’s contributors will hire program graduates,” McConnell stressed.


SunCal - who is developing the Oak Knoll project, which will bring 918 homes to the east Oakland foothills - has made a sizeable donation to the Oakland Jobs Foundation.


“By supporting local job training and hiring programs to develop and augment job skills and expand employment opportunities for Oakland’s most underserved population, we hope to play a vital role in supporting and changing the lives of Oakland residents,” said David Soyka, a representative of SunCal.

Bishop Bob Jackson is the founder of Acts Full Gospel Church and the Men of Valor program which helps formerly incarcerated residents re-enter the workforce and regain control of their lives. The program provides a variety of services including housing, spiritual and emotional guidance, as well as much needed job training skills.


“The Oakland Jobs Foundation is in a position to provide the program with resources to do this important work,” Jackson pointed out.


“The beauty of the program is that developers want to provide community benefits. They also want to support local hire,” McConnell said. “At the same time there is a huge need for skills training. It all works together.”

This article was first written by the Oakland Post 


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