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The Unity Council (officially known as the Spanish Speaking Unity Council) was founded in 1964, and is a non-profit community development corporation committed to enriching the quality of lives of families primarily in the Fruitvale District of Oakland. Its mission is to help low-income and underserved families and individuals build wealth and assets through comprehensive programs of sustainable economic, social and neighborhood development.
Chris Iglesias, CEO of The Unity Council as of January 2013, comes highly qualified to lead the organization. Growing up near the Fruitvale District and working in a development capacity for the City of Oakland and the City and County of San Francisco for over 20 years, Chris has the experience and commitment along with a very dedicated staff, to deliver on the Council’s mission. Over 300 employees serve over 10,000 people each year and offer services in over 12 languages.
The Council’s immediate plans include: developing the senior team, expanding workforce programs, building cash reserves, and identifying potential growth areas. The Council manages over a dozen community based programs including:
- AmeriCorps — meet critical needs in the community and develop leadership.
- Fruitvale Business Improvement District - comprehensive neighborhood commercial revitalization program focused on the International Boulevard, Fruitvale Avenue and Foothill Boulevard commercial corridors.
- Dia De Los Muertos Festival — opportunity for local artists to showcase their talent.
- Head Start — these programs which provide a relationship-based multilingual and multicultural curriculum operate at five sites located throughout Oakland.
- Homeownership Center - works to improve neighborhood conditions in the Fruitvale/San Antonio area by expanding first time homeownership opportunities for residents of Oakland and Alameda County.
- Latino Mens & Boys - comprehensive educational and academic support, mentorship, health and wellness programs, career development, and culturally based activities for young Latino males ages 6-25 years old who live in Oakland.
- Peralta Service Corp - a subsidiary of The Unity Council that achieves social outcomes related to increasing the economic self-sufficiency of low-income adults through the provision of on-the-job training and living-wage employment.
- Public Market - small business incubator that provides attractive, affordable storefront space and professional business technical assistance services to micro-enterprises.
- Senior Center - Through three residential senior housing facilities (Pasada de Colores, Las Bougainvilleas, Casa de Velasco) and the Fruitvale-San Antonio Senior Center, that provides high quality supportive services to over 1000 low-income, monolingual and multi-ethnic seniors aged 50 and older.
- VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) - provides accurate tax preparation to families and individuals with income below $52k.
- Workforce Development - provides comprehensive workforce development services for job seekers looking for new employment opportunities, extended job training, or resources to make a career change.
- Youth Services - operates several programs that work with local youth. Based on the evolving needs of the community, the youth programs change over time and address diverse needs.
Chris Iglesias extends an open invitation to visit the Fruitvale BART Transit Village. He says that “You will be pleasantly surprised”. To find out more about The Unity Council’s services or if you are interested in volunteering to assist in being a catalyst for change for an organization that transitions people from poverty to prosperity, please visit www.unitycouncil.org.