To help underserved youth make a living from living their purpose, with a focus on those that are system-involved
That all youth have an equal opportunity to a life filled with purpose and prosperity
Soulciety’s inception was a long time dream of co-executive directors Ron Carino and Aaron Horner. Growing up in Hayward California, Ron and Aaron witnessed first hand the amazing talent in the community as well as the many challenges. In 2008, at the time of Soulciety’s incorporation, Hayward was second highest in Alameda County for violent crime, and it continues to struggle with high levels of crime and juvenile delinquency today. Soulciety was created to provide youth in this community a platform for creative expression and self-development with the hope that it leads them towards their own unique purpose and potential.
At the very center of Soulciety’s values is a passion for the performing arts. During Ron and Aaron’s formative years, Hayward was overflowing with dancers, poets, emcees, singers and musicians. This creative movement inspired both to get involved by producing talent showcases, benefits, school assemblies and other outlets for artists to share their gifts with the community and youth. Over the years, this has resulted in many relationships with emerging and well-known artists. Starting in 2005, Ron developed an oversees program bringing local artists to the Philippines where they performed and taught arts education to hundreds of school-aged children. Soulciety returns almost every year and evolved these trips into The Bridge Program, which fuses performing art, community development and cultural immersion.
Soulciety is deeply committed to using the performing arts as a vehicle to community development and social change. The Empower theatrical production series has featured many young artists and activists giving voice to the unsung and overlooked members of the community. During the 2011 show, an official of Alameda County was inspired by the work that Soulciety had accomplished with the youth. This official then championed Soulciety’s cause, and the focus then grew from performing arts to include youth development. At that time, there was new federal funding to provide system-involved youth with job training and placement. Soulciety was considered for this funding which gave birth to Soulciety’s Youth Employment Program. With Aaron as the director of the program and with a dedicated and relentless team, Soulciety continues to have some of the highest employment success rate with system-involved youth in the county, and has emerged as a leader in youth employment.
In 2013, the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency completed construction on a new youth center in Ashland, the unincorporated community in San Leandro. Following Soulciety’s success in youth employment, AC HCSA invited Soulciety to move its base operations into the new facility and to head REACH’s youth employment program. The REACH (Recreation, Education, Arts & Culture, Career Development, and Health and Wellness) Ashland Youth Center is a 31,000 square foot facility that provides services to low-income youth ages 11-24. Soulciety is one of seven main agencies providing services to the youth in this collaborative facility.
Having come so far from its humble beginnings, Soulciety has grown into a thriving workforce development and performing arts organization dedicated to helping underserved and system-involved youth to reach their purpose and full potential.