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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A New Vision for Civicorps Students

“When people told me that I should go to college, I didn’t know what that meant. I thought that was just something that people said to young people. I didn’t realize at the time that it meant that they believed in me,” said Eduardo, a Civicorps alum and recent UC Berkeley Graduate.

Students come to Civicorps with an incredibly diverse range of academic experience. We’ve had students, such as Harris who went on to become Corpsmember of the Year, come to Civicorps after missing school for over a decade. We have other students, such as Xenia, who pass all of their exit exams on the first try and breeze through the requirements to graduate in under 9 months.

How do we, as educators, adapt to this enormous range in service and learning needs? How do we equip such diverse students for the rigors of college and a professional career?

I was brought on at Civicorps to foster a nascent culture change already taking root within our community. Rather than seeing ourselves as solely a pathway to family-sustaining careers, I want our students to see themselves as scholars and to know that college is within their reach.

The standard college level Intro to English class, whether you’re at a junior college or a UC, is to write over 30 pages in one semester. Some of our students arrive at Civicorps having been invisible in an inequitable public education system and have never had the opportunity to cultivate these skills.

With a reinvigorated push toward college preparation in mind, my vision for the 2017-2018 School Year includes three primary objectives:

The most effective way to address such a wide range of skills is a blended learning approach – which is a method of instruction that allows our teaching staff to work with students at their present academic levels by leveraging technology.

In math class, for example, an instructor might spend 20 minutes of the class teaching a new set of skills to the whole group, and then students would spend the remainder of the class working individually (or with an academic coach) at their current level. This personalized learning approach allows students to move through the program at a pace that works for them.

In addition to blended learning, Civicorps teachers use culturally responsive teaching methods in order to promote an equitable learning environment. This method of teaching uses collectivist cultural practices which increase engagement and retention. It allows teachers to shift the cognitive load from themselves to the students and encourages students to engage in productive struggle.

Since reading and writing tend to be areas that predominantly determine a student’s success in the first year of college, we have doubled our portfolio writing requirements so that students can gain these skills while in the supportive environment at Civicorps.

By showing students that college is not only an option for them, but the next stage of their trajectory, we will see a cultural change where students develop a college-going mindset.

We are already seeing the change take root. More and more of our students are seeing college as a step in achieving their goals. They are seeing that they’re as capable and every bit as deserving of a college education as anyone else.

We look forward to seeing our students rise to the new heights that we set in the coming year and preparing students for the challenges that lie ahead – academically and professionally.

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