Frontline Catalysts is a women-led nonprofit in Oakland. We developed the first-ever Climate Justice Leadership Development Program grounded in ethnic studies for youth in frontline communities. Our program is provided at no cost to Title 1 public schools. We started our 2021 pilot program in partnership with a middle school in East Oakland.
Low-income communities of color are the ground zero of climate change. These frontline communities live on the boundaries of toxic waste disposal sites, hot spots of contaminated water, soil and air pollution, and active or abandoned industrial facilities. Further, youth in these frontline communities experience educational inequities, denying them the resources to thrive.
Poor air quality is nothing new to East Oakland residents – exposure to pollution from Interstate Highway 880, industrial land uses, the Oakland Airport and the Port of Oakland has resulted in harsh symptoms of nausea and asthma.
East Oakland has twice the rate of Asthma emergency department visits. People in the hills of Oakland, on average, will live 15 years longer than those in the flats. Toxic smells reach local schools and homes, which do not have sufficient air filtration. And the wildfires exacerbate environmental and health issues built up over time.
Recently, the Air District recognized the health risks East Oakland residents are facing. East Oakland residents and environmental justice organizations are aiming to build off this research to campaign for cleaner air.
To spotlight this crisis, Frontline Catalysts will coordinate a daily 2-week air quality module in collaboration with community partners to provide hands-on community science activities exploring air quality in and around school for our students. Guest speakers from organizations such as East Bay Academy for Young Scientists and the Bay Area Air Quality Monitoring District will join our program as part of this module.
Funded by Oakland, CA (February 2022)