By Keith Burbank

Oakland may soon get a bigger dose of positive East Oakland influence. The East Oakland Youth Development Center, whose alumni have gone on to become NBA and NFL players, professional musicians and PhD students, is expanding with $3.2 million from U.S. Bank. The money will be used to renovate the existing center and construct two new buildings to serve more youth.

“It was time to do an overhaul,” said Regina Jackson, EOYDC’s president and chief executive. The building is “well used,” Jackson said, and space is limited, with all the youth in various programs.

The $3.2 million will support an $11.4 million renovation and expansion, including a new two-level education building and new one-story wellness center.

“It’s like finding a $3.2 million funder,” Jackson said. But, the center needs to raise another $2 million to start work. Anyone interested in making a donation can do so at EOYDC.org.

The wellness center will expand individual instruction in fitness and hygiene and cooking classes. The education building will house the existing Magic Johnson computer lab and provide for GED preparation, the after school leadership academy and the pathway to college program. Jackson is hoping to augment the Magic Johnson computer lab with a mini Mac lab.

“The East Oakland Youth Development Center helps youth thrive and achieve their full potential in school, future careers and in service to their communities,” said Michael Righi, president, U.S. Bank in Northern California. “We’re proud to ensure that the organization can expand its impact in an area that needs it most.”

“Extremely distressed” is what Alison Paige, assistant vice president, U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation, called East Oakland. But she said the EOYDC is “really a safe place for kids to go after school.”

U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation is a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp, the holding company of U.S. Bank. The development corporation financed the investment in partnership with the Northern California Community Loan Fund and an arm of U.S. Bank that allows the firm to receive a tax credit for the investment.

The center is in it’s 36th year offering “no-cost educational, leadership, employment training, arts and sports programs,” says a U.S. Bank press release. “The project is in an area that has been historically plagued by high poverty rates, violence and crime.”

Currently, the center serves more than 300 youth ages 6 to 18 and nearly 2,000 youth annually. The renovation and expansion will add 6,500 square feet of space and security and energy efficiency upgrades, allowing the center to increase its capacity substantially.

Increasing its capacity may produce more alumni such as Gary Payton, the nation’s number one college basketball player in 1990, according to Sports Illustrated. Payton helped the Miami Heat NBA basketball team win a championship in 2006.

Other successful alumni include Meisha Marzell, who was accepted into a PhD program in Behavioral Health at Penn State University. “Right now I still smile,” says a quote from Marzell in the EOYDC’s latest annual report, “when I think about how my short time at the center still has an impact on my life.”

Robert Shetterly, former CEO of The Clorox Company founded the EOYDC, to support a social cause. And he wanted to involve Clorox employees and Clorox dollars. With the help of the community, other philanthropists and the City of Oakland, EOYDC was born.

Shetterly said, “In order to do good you have to first do well.”

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