REACH has been helping youth and families weather the stresses of remote learning,
racial injustice, and economic insecurity during a difficult time for lower-income communities of color.


REACH is youth-centered! Our vision is a future where youth thrive.
We honor youth power and resilience through a culture of safety, belonging, and possibility.

Super Heroes


These are the people who make REACH a safe, inviting, and creative environment.

Erik Sakamoto, Executive Director, REACH Ashland Youth Center

Jabari Gray, Assistant Director, REACH Ashland Youth Center

Santi Soumpholphakdy, REACH Integrated Health and Wellness Clinical Supervisor

Melissa Santosa, Library Technician, Alameda County Library

Matt Bogdanowicz, Recreation Program Manager, Deputy Sheriffs’ Activities League

Joaquin Newman, Arts Program Manager, Alameda County Office of Education

Jerarde Gutierrez, Arts Program Manager, Alameda County Office of Education

Veronica Aguilar, Teacher – Opportunity Academy at REACH, Alameda County Office of Education

Seini Houa, Program Coordinator – Probation Youth Employment Program, Bay Area Community Resources

REACH is operated by the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency (HCSA) and the Center for Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC), in conjunction with numerous community partners (see below).

Voices of REACH

In April 2021 REACH Youth Leadership began a project called “Voices of REACH” to capture the youth
experience at the REACH Ashland Youth Center. In these interviews, youth talk about the power of health and
wellness, social justice, and youth leadership.

REACH History

The Dream. Ashland youth started with a dream to create a youth center that has become a powerful, positive, physical force in the community. The REACH Ashland Youth Center, a $23-million facility, believed to be the largest of its kind in the country, opened in May 2013 after a decade-long effort by local youth and the public sector who came together to fight for a place for youth to thrive in the unincorporated area of Ashland/Cherryland, a community struggling with problems of poverty, gang violence, drug abuse, high crime rates, and some of Alameda County’s highest school dropout and teen pregnancy rates. This grassroots effort resulted in a dynamic, 31,500-square-foot facility of green architecture that includes a community health clinic, library, day care facility, multi-media room, dance studio, weight room, arts room, and a café.

How it Began. REACH began with voices of young people pleading for change and the public servants who listened to them. A young resident services coordinator for the Eden House Apartments was working with youth who lived in the low-income complex. Every week after school the number of young people gathering at Eden House from nearby neighborhoods grew. The students talked about not feeling safe and having nowhere to go after school to escape the violence, gangs, and drugs. The coordinator, who was subsequently hired by the Alameda County Sheriffs’ Office (ACSO), helped organize the youth to advocate for a solution. This group became the Youth Leadership Council and included about 20 young people who were eventually joined by others who fought for many years to make the youth center a reality. Meanwhile, the Alameda County Supervisor had started the Eden Area Livability Initiative (EALI) to get a sense of the community’s priorities and needs. The Youth Leadership Council showed up to that first meeting. The supervisor saw hope in the kids’ grassroots energy and, from that time on, in collaboration with ACSO, Alameda County Health Care Services Agency (HCSA), the former AC Redevelopment Agency, San Lorenzo Unified School District, Hayward Area Recreation Park District, and others, they worked together as a force to make REACH happen.

For Youth by Youth. Young people organized events for neighborhood youth and these events turned into popular gatherings of fun, purpose, and direction. Youth understood that their vision was clear – a future where youth thrive; and they were empowered by their determination to meet with the County Supervisor and his staff to talk about their need to have a safe place to gather and thrive. For five years young people attended board meetings to advocate their case. At the final meeting, attended by hundreds, the youth center was approved. Not only did REACH garner strong support from the community at large, but local youth worked side by side with county staff and design consultants to help guide both the program development and actual physical design of the building and spaces within. One of the design concepts they came up with was the concept of the checkerboard, where some spaces are open, and some are closed, throughout the building: we want to be open and inviting but we also want to be safe. The youth also wanted the building to be a showplace for the artistic work of young people and to reflect unity and diversity of the community.

The Site. After searching for an accessible space, a site was purchased. Hayward Area Recreation District took the lead in developing master plan; this included partnership with the Alameda County Redevelopment Agency, which owned the parcel for the center; the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, to redevelop remainder of the property as a new neighborhood park; and the San Lorenzo Unified School District, which operated the Edendale Middle School adjacent to the center. Three public agencies worked together with a common goal. This cooperation made the project possible. Improvements made to the site and the surrounding area included tree planting in a neighborhood where few had existed; sidewalk and landscape improvements; and clearing the site of toxic waste.

Commitment to Sustainability. REACH was built in keeping with a commitment to sustainability that has earned Alameda County national attention. With a multitude of environmentally friendly features, including an array of rooftop solar panels that currently generate about 20 percent of the building’s power, REACH became the first county building to receive the coveted LEED Platinum designation established by the US Green Building Council.

Catalyst for the Community. REACH was the catalyst of a string of redevelopment projects in the county that have transformed a once-tired stretch of East 14th Street, bringing swaths of greenery, new architecture, and heavy foot traffic to the heart of a community that for years lacked a central gathering space. It includes the recently constructed Jack Holland Sr. Park and the new open multi-use gymnasium at Edendale Middle School. The Holland Park brings much needed outdoor recreational park space to Ashland, while the Edendale Gymnasium is utilized for middle school athletics as well as after-school activities operated jointly by the San Lorenzo Unified School District, Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, and the Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs’ Activities League.

REACH Partners

REACH Ashland Youth Center is managed by the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency (HCSA) and the Center for Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC), and is operated with the support of numerous agencies, and community institutions and organizations, including:

On-Site Programing

  • Alameda County Library
  • Alameda County Office of Education,
  • Alameda County Sheriff’s Office,
  • Bay Area Community Resources
  • Deputy Sheriffs’ Activities League
  • Hayward Area Recreation and Park District
  • KickStartCS
  • Kidango
  • La Clínica de la Raza
  • San Lorenzo Unified School District.

Alameda County Support

  • Board of Supervisors
  • District 2 Supervisor Nate Miley
  • General Services Agency
  • Behavioral Health Care Services
  • Probation Department
  • Arts Commission
  • Vision 2026
  • Community Development Agency
  • ALL IN
  • Public Health Department

Supporting Organizations

  • Alameda County Community Food Bank
  • Ashland Market and Café
  • Cherryland Community Association
  • Eden United Church of Christ
  • Resources for Community Development
  • Vision AC