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Delivering Impactful and Sustaining Programs in Service to Our Community

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Alameda and Contra Costa counties are located in the San Francisco Bay Area and include 33 cities and over 2.6M people. The Alameda Contra Costa (CA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated (ACCL) targets East Oakland and the youth who live there as its community service program area. A needs assessment conducted in 2011 showed ACCL’s community service program area had a huge disparity in high school graduation rates among African American boys and girls; low test scores in science, math, health and technology fields, and an obesity rate of almost 30% in elementary school children.  The decision to focus on STEAM education and workshops was made clear based on these disparities. ACCL established the Community Service Program in 2012 and named it, "Respect Yourself.” This transformational program consists of four components:

  • Respect Your Health - Oral Health Initiative targets elementary school-aged children. HeartLinks, a partnership with the American Heart Association/Go Red to improve the cardiovascular health of African American women

  • Respect Your Knowledge - Create educational activities focused on STEAM, financial literacy, English literacy, and International Affairs for elementary and middle school-aged children. 

  • Respect Your Family and Community - Provide education and programming to elementary and middle school-aged children targeting anti-bullying and environmental stewardship. Community Philanthropy via the Ann C. Cato Scholarship.

  • Respect Your Creativity and Intuitiveness - Provide programming exposing elementary and middle school-aged children to arts and support emerging artists

Respect Yourself Youth Symposium, an annual event now in its twenty-seventh year, combines these components into a day of workshops focused on stimulating middle school students’ interest in STEAM educational areas. The event was typically held at educational institutions such as  Laney College and Samuel Merritt University in Oakland; however, recently the event has been in virtual or hybrid formats due to COVID-19. An average of 125 students are typically in attendance. 


ACCL’s Respect Yourself Umbrella Program has had a positive impact on the community in many ways, including:


  • Improving the cardiovascular health of African American Women

  • Conducting workshops that contribute to the reduction of obesity in children

  • Improving student literacy rates and increasing students’ appreciation of books and writing

  • Exposing children to the Arts

  • Providing STEAM education and curricula to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Saint Leo the Great schools, fostering a desire to graduate from high school and go to college

  • Serving as role models for youth to encourage their ability to achieve beyond their environment 


The success of the Respect Yourself Umbrella Program is based upon chapter members serving on one of five facets:


Arts · National Trends and Services · Health and Human Services · Services to Youth · International Trends and Services


Each facet develops programs and activities targeting youth ages 8 through 14 which are facilitated throughout the year.


Our Respect Yourself Umbrella program is sustained by our institutional leadership affiliations and relations.  Each year our chapters’ strategic planning process aligns our objectives with the needs of the target audience through a review of both their needs and our national initiatives. This annual exercise allows for integrated involvement, strong partnerships, and focused community service. Our community partners include:


  • Alameda County American Heart Association, providing heart health education and screening for African American women in our community. 

  • The Berkeley Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated assists with our annual Respect Yourself Youth Symposium.

  • The East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC), an award-winning 501c3 nonprofit youth center established in 1978, and a community partner for twenty years is the location of our Reading Links to Living Girls book club. This Youth Center provides a safe haven for learning and growth for more than 2,000 youth and young adults.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School in West Oakland, a public school serving kindergarten through 5th grade students. This school's population is 60% African American, and 82% of the students are eligible for the free lunch program. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School has been a community partner since 2014.

  • Money Wise Financial Groups, a financial literacy partnership of Consumer Action and Capital One, assists with our Financial Literacy Program.

  • Saint Leo the Great School, a pre-kindergarten to 8th grade school serving families of which 20% live below the poverty line and a sizable number of children require tuition assistance. Saint Leo the Great School has been a community partner for a decade.

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