Shaun T.
In Dec 2010, my mother Jane Tai was managing her Oakland small business when she was robbed by two young men at gunpoint. She wasn’t physically hurt, but the event compounded problems she was already experiencing. In addition to being a victim of crime, my mom found it difficult to reach new customers outside her generation. Owner of a furniture design studio at 26th and Broadway—her family business of 46 years—she had been left behind by the digital revolution, like many local businesses. There were two serious issues at hand: Youth in Oakland lacked professional opportunities, and small businesses faced extinction due to unique challenges caused by the increasingly digital economy. Inspired to discover a solution, I envisioned connecting overlooked community college students to business owners like my mom, who were in need of graphic design and social marketing. Others supported the same vision of collaboration and change for Oakland. Together, we channeled our relentless passion for design and technology into Oakland Digital Arts & Literacy Center, a community-driven digital marketing agency and nonprofit. The cause educate, inspire, and empower underserved communities to succeed in the digital economy has snowballed into an organic growing movement. This year we have launched BRIDGE, an online marketplace that will scale and sustain the vision set forth by Oakland Digital. Join us to improve the lives of businesses and students nationwide.