Oakland’s Youth Beat Provides Media Training and Mentorship

Oakland-based youth media organization Media Enterprise Alliance has unveiled a new website and brand identity, relaunching as YouthBeat.org.

Youth Beat is a nonprofit program that provides cutting-edge media arts training to students in the Oakland Unified School District. Based out of KDOL-TV, the OUSD’s educational TV station, Youth Beat serves over 350 students annually, providing classes for credit after school and during the school day at six OUSD schools. Its social enterprise division, Youth Beat PRO, offers for-hire video production by teens, providing media services to local clients.

The new brand is intended to help elevate the organization’s presence in the community. “We want the whole world to see what Oakland students are capable of,” said Jake Schoneker, Youth Beat’s executive director. “We’ve got a lot of young, talented filmmakers growing up here in our program who are making an impact in their community through media. They’re telling their own stories, and creating their own narrative about what it’s like to be from Oakland.”

Youth Beat intern Chris Henriquez, a junior at Oakland High School, said that Youth Beat has helped him turn his grades around and get him on track to graduate from high school.  “My experience in Youth Beat since the beginning has really impacted me,” he said. “It made me want to actually succeed in school and actually go to my classes.”

Nelzy Gonzalez, an alumnus of MetWest High School and current student at UC Berkeley, said growing up in East Oakland, she saw many of her peers dropping out or taking the wrong path in life. “The pure idea of going to college is not even thought of in our communities sometimes,” she said. “Youth Beat has opened this idea for these students who come to the programs, who were born in East Oakland, that it is a possibility, and they can do it, and that they can find a passion.”

“What Youth Beat offers is just an opportunity for kids in low-income communities,” Gonzalez said. “Because we don’t often get them.”

Schoneker said that the new Youth Beat brand will help provide a bigger platform for youth to tell their stories, and attract more career opportunities for students. To that end, Schoneker said, “Oakland youth want two things. They want us all to hear them, and they want us to hire them.”


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