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Research and IMplementation

Passed by Oakland voters on November 2, 2004, Measure Y provides approximately $19 million every year for ten years to fund violence prevention programs, additional police officers, and fire services. Tax-payer dollars fund Oakland Unite programs through Measure Y in hopes of targeting the highest risk community members and neighborhoods, with a particular focus on interrupting violence now as it is occurring and preventing future violence. Programs supported by Oakland Unite use data-driven approaches that cover a spectrum of activities from:
  • young adult reentry support to head off new offenses
  • school-based programs to reduce gang involvement
  • Direct street outreach for interruption of brewing violence in Oakland’s most violent hot-spot areas.
  • crisis response to support family members who have been impacted by violence
  • commercially sexually exploited children interventions
  • domestic violence interventions
  • crisis intervention for 0-5-year-old children exposed to violence

While I was working at Oakland Unite as a Program Analyst, I conducted qualitative and quantitative fieldwork as a final graduate degree project.  I focused on trauma and trauma-informed practices because I believed addressing the underlying mental and environmental causes are pivotal in breaking the cycle of violence. My fieldwork goal was to understand the needs of agencies in incorporating trauma-informed practices in their services and recommend ways Oakland Unite can provide ongoing support.
At the beginning of my fieldwork, I organized a professional development training on Restorative Trauma-Informed Practices to 25 grantees of Oakland Unite, in partnership with Catholic Charities of the East Bay. The topics covered include Intro to Restorative Trauma-Informed Practices (RTIPS), an introductory session that provides a mix of experience-based skills building and theoretical background to restorative trauma-informed practices, and RTIPS and Traumatic Grief Work -- a meeting that focuses on restorative trauma-informed methods that can be used with youth and adults experiencing traumatic grief. 

The second half of the training focused on vignettes from different facilitators. We had a young man who openly shared his experience as a victim of gun wounds that paralyzed him from the waist down. Now, as a peer mentor to many high-risk youths, he created an exercise called the “volcano,” which symbolizes anger within and expressed anger, for front-line staff to use with clients that have anger issues due to trauma. We also had an exercise called “The Triangle Approach” where our trainer synthesized thoughts, feelings, and behavior of a person who is traumatized and a how-to guide that person in changing their association to trauma through these steps. The goal was to equip the providers with tools to heal as well as heal others. 

To further expand my knowledge on trauma and trauma-informed practices, I attended "Insidious Trauma: An Examination of Race, Trauma, and Resiliency" training held at the California Endowment and led by Mrs. Gina Castro Rodriguez, MFT. Mainly addressing systematic oppression and racism, the practice was designed to challenge service providers' worldview and attitude toward cultural differences. There is trauma experienced not only by what is systematically set in place but also in ways we, as service providers, approach treatments. People of color, especially African Americans, are disproportionately affected by traumatic events more than any other group in America. Ranging from systematic oppression to historical trauma, it is vital for us to understand these nuances in being powerful change agents for the youths we serve. 

I also conducted insightful, informational interviews with Mrs. Rodriguez and Ms. Jen Leland from the East Bay Agency for Children, supporting me in formulating practical recommendations for Oakland Unite and its service providers. 

Based on training, interviews, and literature reviews, I created an infographic for the Oakland Unite website, surveys to Oakland Unite service providers, and a list of recommendations. The professional development training and support that I worked on in 2016 propelled for Oakland Unite to standardize the technical assistance and training opportunities for their grantees, which still stands today. 
To see more or discuss possible work let's talk >>
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