In honor of Black History Month, we are interviewing some of our current members making a big impact on our community.
Anthea Charles is the Bay Area director of Bridges from School to Work, a non-for-profit youth development agency. She states, “Our mission is to transform the lives of youth through the power of a job. More specifically, youth who are and were in special education, ages 17-24”. Originally founded by the Marriot Foundation, Bridges is now celebrating its 30th Year Anniversary of breaking down barriers to employment in 12 different markets! Such areas include San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and many more.
“Our students get hired everywhere!”
As an Oakland local, Anthea spends the majority of her working week at The Port alongside Shannon, Lisel and Eric who make an amazing team. Having a workspace that showcased diversity was a must: “The majority of our students are young men of colour. It was important to me that they see people who are like that, that are professionals. It‘s inspiring for them! It looks like Oakland in here.”
Joining the team 23 years ago, Anthea has successfully expanded the San Francisco program into the East Bay Area. As a result, Bridges now serves our local youth in Oakland, as well as Berkeley, Alameda and surrounding areas. Her passion, optimism and drive are shown through her persistence to expand the program into more cities within the United States and her motto:
“We don’t focus on people’s challenges, we focus on what they can do!”
Anthea’s charismatic personality and determination to offer equal financial opportunity, to those who typically didn’t excel in the traditional education system, is admirable. In return, she explains, “Just watching their confidence grow… is one of the most gratifying parts of the job.”