Oakland artist and educator Jonathan Brumfield, manager of Get Active Urban Arts, a Safe Passages program in its 7th year, works with youth ages 14-19 living in East Oakland. The program is designed to promote social justice, cultural awareness, leadership development and community engagement among the students. In addition to the important and relevant topics of social equity in their own community and their role in it, the students are trained in how to conceptualize and market a complete production — including the planning, illustration, aerosol arts, graphic design, airbrushing, and mural production.

Get Active scholars to examine the concept of community and learn how to examine social politics, cultural histories, social justice legacies, and the inequity of privilege and power in modern America – all while exploring the role that urban artwork can play in conveying positive community messages to create change. Brumfield teaches his students that direct action is a key element of transformative organizing, and that “the paintings they create, the murals they put up for everyone to see – are a powerful form of direct action. Art has the power to change things.”

Mr. Brumfield has taught Get Active Urban Arts at Coliseum College Prep Academy (CCPA) and Skyline High School since 2010 and 2016, respectively, and has now expanded the program to Ralph J. Bunche High School for the 2017-2018 school year. At CCPA, the Get Active program is incorporated into Mr. Brumfield’s Ethnic Studies “Community Building & Transforming Urban America” curriculum. The students are exposed to a college-level course that prepares them for life after high school and frames college as an attainable and natural next step.

The program also highlights the importance of Community Engagement. As the first step to their art production process, the students are asked to participate in activities where they have open and honest discussions with the community about the issues they face. The Get Active artists then create artwork that speaks to a multitude of community concerns, especially those regarding violence, and develop anti-violence messages and convey them through murals and other forms of creative expression. Mr. Brumfield urges his scholars to have their art “reflect the community,” so that they can “teach the world about the value and importance of our community here in Oakland.”


Over 90 youth leaders are served annually by Get Active Urban Arts, and it continues to be one of Safe Passages’ most successful initiatives.

Click HERE to learn more about Get Active with our new program video.