History of One East Palo Alto
2022 marks the 22nd year of One East Palo Alto’s (OEPA) operations and its continuing efforts to partner with East Palo Alto (EPA) residents and stakeholders to bring about comprehensive, resident-driven, renewal and quality of life improvements in the City of East Palo Alto. Such work has been more than a labor of love. It is, in fact, a passionate commitment to bring equality of opportunity, justice and economic parity to an underserved municipality in the heart of Silicon Valley that is long overdue for revitalization. Below is a selected list of historical milestones in OEPA journey’s.• The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation spearheads a partnership in 2000 with the former Peninsula Community Foundation (PCF), Stanford University Haas Center for Public Service (Haas Center), and Community Development Institute (CDI) to launch an East Palo Alto (EPA) resident-focused visioning process. CDI convenes meetings with EPA residents and stakeholders during several months and leads participants through the process of producing a comprehensive strategic plan for addressing critical quality of life problems. Participating residents and stakeholders adopt the name Neighborhood Improvement Initiative (NII) for their work.
• The strategic plan is completed in June 2000 and submitted to the Hewlett Foundation for funding. NII residents and stakeholders decide to form an independent nonprofit to oversee the work, elect a 25 member board of directors and adopt the name “One East Palo Alto”. Hewlett approves the OEPA plan, selects East Palo Alto as a third NII site and awards investment funding of 4.5 million to proposed work to be allocated over six years. PCF assumes overall management, Haas Center conducts research and evaluation activities and CDI hosts administrative operations and provides selected fiscal sponsorship.
• OEPA begins implementation of the OEPA plan in 2001 and hires its first Executive Director, Todd Stowell, as well as other key program staff.
• OEPA’s early work achieves wide ranging results including, but not limited to, the following: entrepreneur/micro-business training and support; after school programming for African American, Pacific Islander and Latino elementary school children; development of preliminary health-focused promotor training; funding for infrastructural development of the EPA Senior Center; establishment of a Youth Council; launch of the East Palo Alto Digital Village, supported by a $5 million three-year grant from Hewlett-Packard Company; support of housing advocacy and financial literacy; formation of and funding for neighborhood block clubs and associations; funding for local ethnic cultural festivals, and incubation and other critical assistance to the formation and development of Nuestra Casa, a then new Latino parent-focused organization.
• By 2002, OEPA leverages the Hewlett grant to secure nearly $400,000 in funding from other philanthropic sources (Healthy Cities/State of California, California Wellness Foundation, Applied Materials, Atkinson Foundation, Skoll Fund and David and Lucile Packard Foundation).
• OEPA and the Hewlett Foundation initiate measures early in 2002 to enhance governance, increase accountability, reduce complexity and strengthen capacity. The Foundation suspends funding for initial plan-based work and requires a new strategic planning process to define a reduced scope of operations. OEPA proposes scaled down operations involving work on three signature programs – EARN, LEARN and SAFE –and funding is reinstated.
• OEPA’s financial stability is initially facilitated by being fiscally sponsored by CDI. Subsequently, the agency obtains 501(c)(3) status in November 2003 and achieves financial independence in 2004. OEPA’s financial status improves significantly in 2003 as a result of securing a major, multi-year umbrella grant from Peninsula Community Foundation totaling nearly $900,000, which includes major support for work on convening youth-serving agencies.
• OEPA’s executive director resigns in September 2003, necessitating a search for a replacement which is not completed until April 2004 with the hiring of the current executive director, Dr. Faye McNair-Knox.
• After hiring a new executive director, OEPA’s 2004 operations focus on building organization infrastructure; transitioning to a results-based accountability evaluation model and refining associated implementation procedures; improving community credibility and launching new funding initiatives. The following progress is achieved: transition to financial independence; development of personnel handbook and fiscal policy documents; improvement of board governance processes, and leadership involvement in the Hewlett Advisory Committee for OEPA.
• OEPA successfully implements major projects and community convenings in 2004, including “Families in Motion”; a community-wide discussion on core emergency services provision in EPA with San Mateo County Human Services Agency (HSA), and fiscal sponsorship/management of “Community Interact: Net-Connected Communication for the Common Good (Community Interact!),” an East Palo Alto Digital Village signature project funded by a $430,000 Cable Coop Legacy grant.
• In 2004, OEPA works to achieve the goals of the EARN, LEARN and SAFE core initiatives and realizes the following progress: presentation of commissioned research reports (e.g. Resident Safety Survey &Disconnected Youth); after school literacy services support; funding of job and business development training scholarships for residents, continued incubation of Nuestra Casa; delivery of Individual Development Account resources; participation in developing the Gateway initiative offering postsecondary bridge training and other career alternatives for disconnected youth; launch and completion of a Spanish language-based Citizens Police Academy, and leadership-level participation in the East Palo Alto Crime Reduction Task Force (EPACRTF) convened by Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson, 4th District, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.
• OEPA’s operations in 2005 are marked by continued infrastructure improvements such as refining financial systems, adopting lower cost health benefits and securing pro bono legal assistance from Cooley Godward LLP (now Cooley Godward Kronish LLP), hiring strategic planning and resource development consultants, reconstituting and implementing quarterly membership meetings as critical community issues-focused discussions and attracting nearly $200,000 in funding from public sector, foundation, and corporate sources beyond keystone grants provided by Hewlett and PCF.
• OEPA achieves significant programmatic successes in 2005 that include collaborating with local agencies and forming over 40 implementing partner relationships; spearheading creation of the Sponsored Employment Project, which provided jobs/mentoring relationships for 30 hard to employ youth; establishing the Where Everyone Belongs (WEB) @ One/Cesar Chavez Academy (CCA) after school program; supporting Nuestra Casa; convening the East Palo Alto Youth and Young Adults Serving Agencies Consortium (Youth Consortium); continuing management of Community Interact!; convening EPACRTF and launching an advocacy campaign to improve EPA residents’ access to quality mental health services locally.
• OEPA completes a strategic planning process in 2005 that prompts the agency to adopt its current youth-focused intermediary niche and redefine its core operations to include the following key programmatic initiatives (PI): PI/1 – Improve Educational Outcomes, PI/2 – Take the Sponsored Employment Project to Scale and PI/3 – Build Youth Resilience.
• 2006, OEPA participates in the final year of major Hewlett and PCF funding and begins post-strategic plan operations emphasizing transition to sustainability, increase youth-focused work, and expanded intermediary opportunities. The three core PIs are conducted and refined; WEB@One after school program adds more partners, the Sponsored Employment Program (SEP) is scaled to a program serving up to 100 participants, and community organizing/convening initiatives become a robust group of annual events and activities involving EPACRTF, Youth Consortium, East Palo Alto Mental Health Advisory Group and Community Interact!. OEPA supports its operations by augmenting Hewlett and PCF grants with over $200,000 in funding from other foundation, corporate, and government/public sector sources.
• OEPA’s 2007 operations feature transition to primarily new funding, which constitutes a portfolio of reduced albeit, diverse grants, and a major funding partnership with San Mateo County’s then Mental Health Services Division (MHSD). On one hand, major programs and initiatives continue to be WEB@One (which is funded by a major contract with Ravenswood City School District and a Silicon Valley Community Foundation grant); Community Interact! and SEP, which is funded by several foundation, corporate and public sector sources, especially San Mateo County HSA and the City of East Palo Alto. On the other hand, community organizing/convening initiatives (e.g., grassroots crime reduction, a Youth Summit and advocacy of improvements in local mental health services and other quality of life impact areas) begin to attract increased government agency support, mostly from San Mateo County MHSD (now Behavioral Health and Recovery Services [BHRS]) and to a lesser extent from HSA and the East Palo Alto Police Department.
• From 2008 to present, OEPA continues WEB@One program management (which ends at CCA in June 2008 and launches at McNair Middle School in 2010), sustains efforts to implement SEP each year and expands the initiative’s employment opportunities to include EPA college students home for the summer. OEPA also grows technology infrastructure-building endeavors to include WiFi 101, a broadband access for all project, and continues to implement established mental health, Youth Consortium, EPACRTF and Youth Summit (2008 and 2009) convening initiatives. As related work, the agency begins to perform more on-demand convening roles, including an HSA resident input session and a call-to action discussion on EPA’s homeless/unhoused population. It also implements major projects and community-wide events such as the now annual mental health-based Family Awareness Night; launch of The Barbara A. Mouton Multicultural Wellness Center funded by San Mateo County BHRS, whose operations since 2009 have grown to serve over 600 individuals dealing with mental health issues and their families; a substance abuse prevention campaign funded by San Mateo County’s BHRS/Alcohol and Other Drugs division and its youth-led component, YouthEPA, which is funded by a multi-year federal Drug Free Communities grant; the 2010 Davis E. Lewis “Yes You Can Work” transitional employment project for hard to serve populations funded by San Mateo County HAS. Most recently, OEPA establishes the Mega-network Continuum of Care/Youth Empowerment Strategies for Success collaborative in May 2011 and a special Spring 2011 SEP-Workforce Investment Act initiative providing part-time jobs and team mentoring for 15 EPA/Belle Haven young adults ages 17 to 24. It also implements a 2011 “Promoting Green Education (PGE)” initiative funded by TMG Partners and a 2011-2012 Behavioral Health Opportunities in Careers class at East Palo Alto Academy High School (EPAAHS) in partnership with BHRS and EPAAHS. Funding supporting OEPA’s current work has increased the annual budget to $1.2 million, of which over $400,000 was brokered for and passed through to partner agencies and/or individuals in 2011.