Bettering Our School System- BOSS

The Black Organizing Project launched the Bettering Our School System campaign in October 2011, in response to the murder of 20-year old Raheim Brown by Oakland School Police Sgt. Barhin Bhatt.

Raheim’s mother came to BOP looking for support from the community when the school district turned their backs. Our members wanted justice for Raheim, but thought it was critical to look at the broader issue of police violence toward youth in order to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.

After months of research, strategy sessions and community outreach, we decided to launch the Bettering Our School System campaign to:

  • End the criminalization of Black and Brown students in the Oakland Unified School District
  • Invest in alternative models of school safety that don’t rely on police
  • Restructure the current policies and practices within OUSD that don’t take a restorative justice approach to student discipline and promotes the school to prison pipeline.

Read our report “From Report Card to Criminal Record: The Impact of Policing Oakland Youth” to learn more about how Oakland’s law enforcement agencies are interacting with Black and Brown youth.

Check out our policies won below:

Memorandum of Understanding

Policy to Eliminate Willful Defiance

Board Policy

OUSD Complaint Policy


It is that time of year again! Election season is upon us!

With nine local ballot measures in the city of Oakland and 17 state propositions in California, we want Black folks to be as prepared as possible for the upcoming election. BOP is now participating in a Integrated Voter Engagement program to talk to Black registered voters in East Oakland about our voting rights and the importance of civic engagement. If you see us in our black “B.O.S.S.” shirts or our yellow voting shirts, feel free to stop us and ask us about voting.

Below you’ll find resources that will prepare you for the state and local elections, including information on how to vote with a criminal record. Check it out!


Black Organizing Project’s Local Voter Guide

Voting with a Criminal Record in 2016

2016 Voter Registration Fact Sheet

Ca Calls State Voter Guide 

Developing A New Generation of Leaders

In response to the BOSS campaign, we felt the need to create an intentional space for youth to come together and learn critical lessons about their community and what it means to be a leader.

Youth Playaz

This summer program is designed for middle and high school-aged youth to think critically about topics like school pushout, criminalization of black and brown youth, capitalism and slavery.

By engaging young people in discussions around these topics, youth are empowered with an analysis of the conditions of their community and are encouraged to create thoughtful solutions.

All of this is done through a popular education model that incorporates history, literature and contemporary examples, which take youth through a process of self-actualization and develops them as Black leaders.

Youth Internships

In addition to our summer Youth Playaz program, BOP offers part-time stipends and internships to our most dedicated youth volunteer members.


“…we need a r/evolution of the mind. we need a r/evolution of the heart. we need a r/evolution of the spirit. the power of the people is stronger than any weapon. a people’s r/evolution can’t be stopped. we need to be weapons of mass construction. weapons of mass love. it’s not enough just to change the system. we need to change ourselves. we have got to make this world user friendly. user friendly.” -Assata Shakur

The BABY BOP Summer Arts Program serves the community’s children in Oakland through literacy, leadership and arts development.

At BOP we’re committed to providing a safe and nurturing space for our youth where they can learn the basic skills they need to thrive and grow. BABY BOP Summer Arts Program serves youth ages 4-11.

A special thank-you to the volunteer members, parents, and teachers who provided support and donations for the first graduating class of BABY BOP, class of 2013.

To learn more, read member organizer Itoro Udofia’s blog post about BABY BOP on our blog.

Donate to BOP and start supporting a new generation of black leadership TODAY! Click Here to start GIVING!

Interested in becoming a BOP youth member or participating in a summer program? Sign-up here.

Arts, Culture & Political Education

A team of core member leaders drives this part of our work, which promotes art, culture and political education as an essential part of re-building the foundation of the Black community.

Through a variety of events, including BOP’s “OurStory” political education series on topics like black love, black art and music, black history in Oakland and more, we engage the community in a way that inspires community dialogue, collaboration, and collective thinking.

One of my favorite things about being involved in BOP is how our work is rooted in the principles of community and collaboration — the idea that Black people of diverse backgrounds can combine their time and talents to address the racial, social, and economic justice challenges we face today, in ways that would be impossible alone.

Whether we are meeting together to develop strategy, or working independently to support the goals of our committees, the opportunities to build with, and learn from, other members, is what keeps me engaged. BOP creates a space where our collective effort can create solutions to shared problems, which is something I’m always glad to be a part of.

–Shamar Theus