Foster Youth - The Chronicle of Social Change

Equal Footing: Oakland Program Keeps Foster Youth on Track to Graduate with Their Peers

by Shane Downing | May 31, 2018

When Tramischa Cole, a homeless 24-year-old mother of one, stumbled across a Civicorps flier in 2015, she didn’t expect to be accepted into the Bay Area’s only accredited high school and job training program for 18 to 26 year olds.

It’s not that Civicorps had a waiting list: Cole was worried her parenting responsibilities and lack of housing would be an issue.

“I told them I’m homeless and I don’t have child care,” Cole said. “I thought everything I was telling them would be something to stop me from coming and being successful. They said, ‘We’re here for you.’” …

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Khris and Kiara - San Francisco Chronicle

Civicorps alumni Khris and Kiara, are featured in the San Francisco Chronicle. Their journeys of hard work has brought them to their dream career. We are proud of Khris and Kiara for working so hard in becoming Waste Management Teamster Apprentices.

“It’s a career I love.I can send my daughter to college if she wants to go.” – Khris Bland, Civicorps alumn


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Driving Towards a Dream - KTVU

Former Civicorps Recycling driver, Kiara Alexis, is featured in KTVU Fox Channel 2’s segment “Bay Area People.” Our Executive Director Alan Lessik, and Recycling Manager Hector Abarca, are also featured and talk about the this exciting career pathway.

“The best part of my job is that a lot of women come up to me and feel inspired that I am a truck driver.” – Kiara Alexis, Teamster Apprentice at Waste Management

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Civicorps Receives Community Partnership Award

On Thursday, April 19th, Civicorps was presented with Mutual of America’s Community Partnership Merit Finalist Award. This prestigious national  award recognized Civicorps’ Teamster Union Apprenticeship Career Pathway Program in partnership with Waste Management that provides a pathway to lucrative union careers in truck transportation.

The award luncheon was held at the Oakland Marriott City Center Skyline Room where 100 guests enjoyed the sweeping views of Oakland during the awards ceremony. Theodore Herman, Vice Chairman of Mutual of America Foundation and Abbas Moloo, Regional Vice President of Mutual of America made opening remarks. Then, Thomas Gilliam, Chairman and CEO of Mutual of America presented certificates to organizations who helped create this career pathway:

Phil Dillard, Board President; Councilwoman Lynette McElhaney; Alan Lessik, Executive Direcotor; Minna Tao, Recology Golden Gate

Mayor Libby Schaaf, gave a powerful speech on unity and perseverance, recognizing the strengths of the partnership. Then, the Mutual of America Foundation presented Civicorps with a $25,000 check. An unexpected surprise!

Mayor Libby Schaaf

To honor those key individuals who helped create this partnership, one-of-a-kind commemorative coins were presented to Councilwoman Lynette McElhaney, Waste

Management’s Jacob Buckley, Teamster Local 70’s Felix Martinez, and Recology Golden Gate’s Minna Tao.

The ceremony was filled with inspiring speeches that demonstrated the strong relationships Oakland has forged to create career pathways for Oakland young adults. Thanks to Mutual of America Foundation and all our partners for a joyous celebration!

Check out photos from the event: FB Album.

Listen to Civicorps on KCBS radio talking about our pioneering partnership.

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Kiara Alexis receives Corpsmember of the Year Award in Washington, DC

Civicorps’ Kiara Alexis was honored this week as one of six national Corpsmember of the Year award recipients at the Corps Network 2018 National Conference in Washington, DC.

Watch Kiara share her story in an inspiring speech. As a mother, an author, a recycling driver, and now a union apprentice with Waste Management, Kiara has become a role model to other women who want to enter this male-dominated field.

While in DC, Kiara has been meeting with other Corpsmembers and leaders from across the country as well as meeting our representatives like Congresswoman Barbara Lee!

From left to right: Brian Hickey, CFO; Alan Lessik, Executive Director;Congresswoman Barbara Lee, 13th District; Kiara Alexis; Yvette Arroyo-Agradano, Career Pathways Coordinator

Kiara’s Speech:

Growing up in Oakland, CA was pretty rough for me. My mother was a single parent raising four children on her own.  The neighborhood was corrupted by drugs, gangs and violence but this was no excuse for my siblings and I to fall short and become a product of our environment.  Although my mother worked, we had very little and it still amazes me how she managed to keep a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs.  Watching her work so hard, always putting her children first, instilled hard work and selflessness in my heart. Read more…


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