New World Architects, in partnership with AIA East Bay, UC Berkeley, and Fam 1st Family Foundation, held a Youth Architecture Camp last week at the West Oakland Youth Center. Their goal was to expose architecture and design-thinking to our young designers through hands on activities. Volunteers (including two AIA members!) assisted middle school students with developing design concepts, model building, and were general design mentors to our budding designers.
This was their 8th year running this summer camp, because co-founders Cameron Toler and Jeremiah Tolbert “both were exposed to architecture at a young age and we wanted to expose the youth in our communities to architecture in a fun way. “ Plus, as Cameron says, “Black and brown people are underrepresented in the architecture industry. That was clear to me as a child, and confirmed as an adult. Throughout my career I’ve had over 150 co-workers – only 5 are black. I wanted to, and continue to fight to change those meager statistics – to see more black and brown folx pursue careers in the architecture and environmental design industries, become agents of change, and better shape the environments we live in”.
Jeremiah said, about this year’s camp in particular, “It was small and intimate. As we’re coming out of this pandemic, we wanted to be cautious and we ended up with a ratio of 1:1 campers to volunteers. We are normally about 1 volunteer to about every 3 to 4 campers” Next year, he continued, “we plan to be back in Wurster Hall [UC Berkeley] with our normal amount of campers but with even more volunteer assistance.” This camp could only come together “with the extraordinary assistance of several volunteers, Omar Haque, Stephanie Chu, Shalonda Tillman, Jeanette Osborne, Andrew Lau, and Lucia Castello, and Brije Gammage of Fam1st, we’ve been able to provide great camps every year, benefiting hundreds of Bay Area youth.