Safe Passages Introduction

Mission Statement

Safe Passages disrupts the cycle of poverty by engaging youth and families to build and drive a continuum of services that supports student success and community development. Safe Passages envisions a community where all young people have the opportunity to realize their full potential. Safe Passages is based on the premises that access to educational opportunity, health services, and family support should not be dictated by race or socio-economic status, and that healthy and supported young people are better prepared to learn and succeed.

Real Results for Oakland’s Children

By identifying best practices, implementing direct service programs, evaluating results, and advocating for change in the way public systems do business, Safe Passages increases public investment in ideas that translate into programs that work:

Schools Receive $10 Million in Untapped Medicaid Funds

Safe Passages has promoted a culture of cross-collaboration between Oakland, the County, and the Oakland Unified School District that has encouraged the expansion of school-based services targeted to some of Oakland’s most vulnerable children and youth beyond Safe Passages’ designed initiatives and target schools. Building again on the availability of local tobacco master settlement fund revenue, matched with state and federal Mental Health Early Periodic Screening and Diagnosis Treatment (EPSDT)/MediCal and the partnerships developed through Safe Passages, a major expansion of school mental health counseling has occurred. In excess of $10 million annually of new and stable funds are invested in the Oakland schools by the County’s Behavioral Health Care Department, serving students at 52 school sites. These efforts have brought increased stability and support to challenged schools and reduced the necessity of channeling children and youth into “special education” solely to access needed mental health services.

Diversion Program for Repeat Youth Offenders

Safe Passages provided the leadership that motivated Alameda County judges and court commissioners to allow probation officers and community-based organizations to provide alternatives to incarceration for repeat juvenile offenders since 2002. These was the first diversion program of its kind in Alameda County.

Middle School Students Receive Comprehensive Menu of Services 

Safe Passages designed and implemented services that have allowed over 10,000 middle school students in Oakland to receive a menu of services, including: violence prevention curriculum, case management, mental health services, and after-school programs without leaving their schools.

School Suspensions for Violent Offenses Drops 

Safe Passages led the schools’ efforts to organize teams of teachers, staff, and families to create individualized plans for students. Since these efforts began, there has been a 49% drop in suspensions due to violence and a 72% drop in overall suspensions in targeted Oakland middle schools.

Preschoolers Exposed to Violence Receive Mental Health Services at School Sites

Safe Passages helped build the infrastructure between community-based organizations and early childhood centers that allows the city and the school district to receive mental health services at Head Start and Child Development Centers. Since 2003, preschoolers have received services to mitigate the effects of exposure to violence in childcare centers.

Oakland Receives Largest Block of After-School Funding in the State

Safe Passages transformed the way the City of Oakland, the school district, and after-school providers work together in the after-school arena. By working cooperatively on joint grant applications, an additional $15 million in federal 21st Century After-School funding was secured.

Advocacy Efforts Lead to Tangible Results

Safe Passages provided critical data and educational resources to inform voters of The Oakland Violence Prevention and Public Safety Act. It allocated $19 million to public safety programs. Specifically, the measure provided approximately $6.4 million each year for the next 10 years for job training, mentoring and counseling programs for children and young adults, and expanded after school and truancy programs for at-risk youth. Early intervention programs for children who witness violence were also expanded. In addition, the measure provided funding to increase services to combat teen and child prostitution.