Best Babies Zone

Best Babies Zone

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Best Babies Zone is a national project funded by the W.K. Kellogg foundation, led by UC Berkeley.

Compared to a White child born in the Oakland Hills, an African American child born in East Oakland can expect to live 15 fewer years. Best Babies Zone (BBZ) has an opportunity to change children’s trajectories, by working with non-traditional partners to transform a historically disinvested neighborhood into one of health and economic vibrancy. BBZ is an opportunity to martial all of our resources and collectively provide them in one place for greater impact. The Best Babies Zone is focused on a 7 by 12 block radius in East Oakland, the Castlemont Neighborhood.  Our goal is to make sure that all children have the best chance at life!

Best Babies ZoneDon’t let the name fool you – Best Babies Zone is not about just babies! It is about creating vibrant healthy communities. More and more research shows that health is more than just health care; health is about a lifetime of opportunities and experiences that are driven by conditions where one lives. Access to healthy food, opportunities to play, high quality housing and education, economic opportunities, clean air and water, and other community factors are all key to good health.  Recognizing that we all play a role in health, the BBZ is uniting residents, business, and local organizations to bring new opportunities to the Castlemont Neighborhood.   The zone is an opportunity to martial all of our resources and provide them in one place for greater impact. We believe that community members have the power and passion to address obstacles to health in their neighborhoods. Together, groups will problem-solve, build on local strengths and assets, and find ways to support the community ensuring everyone, all ages, can thrive.

Accomplishments include:

  • Co-hosted a Summer Block Party with Youth UpRising, offering a resident engagement visioning board for residents to share their ideas for a thriving community.
  • Facilitated a “design sprint” during which 14 individuals from eight organizations met for two hours every week for 12 consecutive weeks to generate four concepts for stimulating a vibrant local economy in the Castlemont BBZ.
  • Convened Castlemont neighborhood community engagement planning sessions, which led to the development of the Castlemont Community Cafes, East Oakland Innovators, and the Mini-grant Advisory Group
  • Incubated seven successful mini-grant programs in the zone during Round 1, and support six successful mini-grant programs during Round 2.
  • Helped launch early childhood hub, Room to Bloom, on the Castlemont High School campus, currently offering playgroups two times a week, and parent cafes.
  • Launched the monthly Castlemont Community Market, in partnership with Youth UpRising & Castlemont High School.
  • Partnered with academic Institutions (UCB) to ground the work in sound research methodology.

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