Celebrating the Transition of CareerBridge to Catalyst Youth Network

By Eric Steckel | July 2, 2024

Empowering Oakland’s Youth: Program legacy continues where youth are the focus.
CareerBridge Group Photo at Children Rising

Your support provided meaningful internships and caring mentors to hunddreds of East Bay youth. You helped them discover meaningful career opportunities and keep them on track to graduate high school.

In the heart of Oakland, a guiding light has illuminated the path for young minds toward brighter futures for over a decade. Now, as we celebrate another summer of internships and career exploration, CareerBridge embarks on an exciting new chapter. We proudly announce that CareerBridge has fully transitioned from its founding home at Children Rising to the nurturing embrace of Catalyst Youth Network.

CareerBridge has been instrumental in bridging the gap between Oakland’s youth and their career aspirations for ten impactful years. Under the visionary leadership of Margena Wade-Green, one of Catalyst Youth Network’s founding board members, CareerBridge has opened doors for over 500 young individuals through comprehensive workforce training, mentorship, coaching, and invaluable paid internships.

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The genesis of CareerBridge was Margena Wade-Green’s passion for empowering youth. While she served as a community and educational outreach manager at Caltrans, she started CareerBridge as a pilot program, providing youth with opportunities to explore careers in a large state agency with many different career options. In 2013, Children Rising founder Randy Roth invited Margena to lead this transformative program at Children Rising. As CareerBridge finds its new home at Catalyst Youth Network, Margena’s vision, dedication and expertise continue to guide its path forward.

A New Vision: From Inspiration to the Founding of Catalyst Youth Network

Robert Rickett, an East Bay native, spent eight years as a youth pastor, focusing on teens and college students. In 2016, he felt called to work with youth within community schools and joined StudentReach as the Bay Area program director. In that role, he led life coaching workshops at McClymonds High School in Oakland that focused on social-emotional learning and leadership development.

Margena and Robert at a CB Event at First Covenant Church

CareerBridge has been a beacon of hope for over a decade under Margena Wade-Green’s nurturing leadership. The transition to Catalyst Youth Network ensures that CareerBridge will continue to nurture and empower teens and bridge the gap between available resources and those in need.

In Spring 2018, Robert Rickett met the Children Rising team and first visited a CareerBridge workshop at Ralph Bunche High School. He was inspired by the program’s work and quickly looked for ways to partner and collaborate.

Robert joined CareerBridge in a temporary role as program manager. In addition to running CareerBridge workshops in high schools, Robert began introducing new social-emotional learning elements to the program. Working closely with Margena and Michelle Hutcherson, CareerBridge added workshops on topics such as emotional regulation and conflict resolution and bolstered the sexual harassment lesson to focus on healthy boundaries in the workplace.

“CareerBridge has been instrumental in bridging the gap between Oakland’s youth and their career aspirations for ten impactful years. I am so proud of the many youth who strived and succeeded in CareerBridge.” – Margena Wade-Green

During this period, Robert envisioned creating an organization dedicated entirely to serving teenagers, aiming to bridge the gap between available resources and the youth who needed them most. The partnership with CareerBridge was foundational for Catalyst’s success and Margena served as a founding board member and advisor from Catalyst’s inception.

In the summer of 2023, marking CareerBridge’s 10th anniversary, Catalyst Youth Network assumed the reins of the program’s administration. The Catalyst team expressed excitement about the seamless transition, affirming the organization’s commitment to honoring CareerBridge’s legacy and vision.

A bright future ahead for CareerBridge at Catalyst Youth Network.

At Catalyst Youth Network, CareerBridge will continue to thrive, offering the same unparalleled internship experience that empowers Oakland’s youth to unlock their full potential. From classroom preparation to one-on-one mentorship, meaningful paid employment, post-internship coaching, and connections to further opportunities, CareerBridge remains steadfast in its mission to equip young individuals with the skills and support they need to succeed in their careers and in life.

Gracie graduated from Cal State East Bay in 2021

Thanks to your support and Catalyst Youth Network’s vision, CareerBridge’s expanded offerings include establishing an alumni network, long-term career coaching, and exciting partnerships with law internships.

Looking ahead, Catalyst Youth Network has ambitious plans to expand CareerBridge’s offerings, including establishing an alumni network, long-term career coaching, and increasing internship opportunities in new industries. These initiatives underscore Catalyst’s unwavering commitment to fostering career opportunities that will empower and uplift Oakland’s youth.

“I am so proud of the many youth who strived and succeeded in CareerBridge. It is bittersweet handing the program over to Catalyst Youth Network, but my heart is full knowing that teens and youth will continue thrive with Robert and his team,” Margena Wade-Green reflected.

As we celebrate this milestone transition, we reflect on CareerBridge’s enduring impact and look forward to the countless success stories yet to unfold. Together, let us continue championing the aspirations of Oakland’s youth and pave the way for a future filled with promise and possibility.

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