Current Projects

The Alameda County Building Blocks Collaborative brings together people with the ideas, the connections and
the skills we need to create conditions where every child – in every neighborhood – can thrive. BBC grew out of an effort by the Alameda County Public Health Department to create comprehensive solutions to the complex health problems facing our communities. We recognize that our health problems are not isolated – our solutions should not be, either.

Our strength is our collaborative. Our members are from diverse arenas – including local economic development agencies, food access projects, city and county government, community clinics, housing, and parks and recreation – all committed to improving health conditions in our most troubled neighborhoods. BBC is guided by a steering committee comprised of partners from Alameda County Community Food Bank, Girls Inc., Mandela Marketplace, Oakland Unified School District, and the Alameda County Public Health Department. We meet on the fourth Friday of every other month.  Our meetings rotate sites and hosts; ask how you can host our next meeting!

Best Babies Zone is a national project funded by the W.K. Kellogg foundation, led by UC Berkeley.

Children born in East Oakland on average live 9.7 years less than their peers in the Oakland hills, a few miles away.  Children in East Oakland can expect to die, on average, almost 13 years earlier than their peers who live in Piedmont, a few miles away.  The Best Babies Zone (BBZ) has an opportunity to change children’s trajectories, by working with non-traditional partners to transform a historically disinvested neighborhood into one of health and economic vibrancy.  The Best Babies Zone is focused on a 7 by 12 block radius in East Oakland, the Castlemont Corridor.  Our goal is to make sure that all children have the best chance at life!

Don’t let the name fool you – Best Babies Zone is not about just babies! It is about creating vibrant healthy communities. More and more research shows that health is more than just health care; health is about a lifetime of opportunities and experiences that are driven by conditions where one lives. Access to healthy food, opportunities to play, high quality housing and education, job and economic opportunities, clean air and water, and other community factors are all key to good health.  Recognizing that we all play a role in health, the BBZ is uniting residents, business, and local organizations to bring new opportunities to the Castlemont Corridor.  Together, groups will problem-solve, build on local strengths and assets, and find ways to support the community ensuring everyone, all ages, can thrive.  Please direct questions & comments to

We are proud to launch Health Equity & Resource Advocates (HERA), a new initiative of BB4HE within the Alameda County Public Health Department’s Maternal, Paternal, Child and Adolescent Health division. HERA is developing client-focused solutions to address the social factors that impact the health of the pregnant women, fathers and families with young children who are receiving our services. These factors can include finances, housing, and other social determinants of health.

We are engaging staff and clients as experts and advocates, and working with Building Blocks Collaborative and other community partners and stakeholders, building on the work started through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-sponsored Prosperity Project. This new evolution of the work represents a commitment to addressing the root causes of health within our department’s existing services and moves us forward in achieving health equity in Alameda County.  Please contact for more information or partnership opportunities.

Previous Projects

The Alameda County Prosperity Project

The Alameda County Prosperity Project is a cooperative effort of the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) Place Matters (PM), Life Course Initiatives (LCI), the Alameda County Community Asset Network (AC CAN) and the Urban Strategies Counsel (USC) to advance policy and systems change in Alameda County in order to protect income and build wealth in low income communities impacted by health inequities.  The intent of the Prosperity Project is to directly influence policy, including advocating for specific policies to be adopted by the City of Oakland that will increase assets, protect wealth, and advance health equity.  Policies to increase resources and build capital will be developed and disseminated among Prosperity Project coalition partners for use in direct service and policy advocacy.  After developing a clear strategy for organizational change, the Maternal, Paternal, Child, and Adolescent Health (MPCAH) Perinatal Home Visit Staff will systematically educate clients about the personal and community costs of predatory financial products and will connect people to low-cost alternatives, as well as get community members involved in advocating for policy change.  The final objective of the Prosperity Project is that the City of Oakland will adopt and begin implementing policies that increase access to non-predatory, low cost financial products in underserved neighborhoods that are also impacted by health inequities.  For more information about the programs involved with the Prosperity Project, please visit the following websites:

Place Matters

Building Blocks Collaborative

Alameda County Community Asset Network (AC-CAN)

Urban Strategies Council

Food to Families 

The Alameda County Public Health Department has partnered with Mandela Marketplace, West Oakland Health Council, the Deputy Sherriffs’ Activities League (Dig Deep Farms), and Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center for the Food to Families (F2F) project. This project has three goals: 1) to increase the availability of healthy fresh food in the West Oakland and Ashland-Cherryland neighborhoods, 2) to increase local economic and employment opportunities for young adult residents, and 3) to enhance perinatal clinical services by connecting women to the improved food environment and increasing their access to and consumption of fresh produce. F2F provides pregnant women with fresh produce “prescriptions” that connect them with local food access points as well as the skills to eat, cook, and store produce through produce consumer trainings. Young adults in West Oakland manage the produce supply business at participating corner stores in their community and promote produce sales. Young adults in Ashland-Cherryland grow produce and distribute community sustained agriculture (CSA) food boxes. F2F also contains a mini-grant program, which provides small seed funds for innovative, community-based projects that align or build on foundation of the F2F project. F2F was created collaboratively, driven by neighborhood data, and designed to support on-going community efforts to further health equity and to address the needs of these two communities. This three-year project, launched in early 2011, is funded in part by the Kresge Foundation Safety Net Enhancement Initiative. For additional information regarding the F2F partners, please visit the following websites:

Mandela Marketplace

West Oakland Health Council

Deputy Sheriff’s Activity League

Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center

Building Blocks for Healthy Eating and Active Living (BBC HEAL)

BBC HEAL seeks to deliver innovative healthy eating and active living programming for the perinatal population to reduce risk factors for diabetes and chronic disease that develop during pregnancy and early life.  In an effort to promote health across the Life Course, Brighter Beginnings is working with BBC to bring the Food Smarts for Families Curriculum (designed for low-income populations), to teen parents of young children in the Ashland/Cherryland area – delivering services including training on basic nutrition, whole foods, meal planning, nutrition labels, obesity, diabetes, heart health, food advertising, and fast food.  Brighter Beginnings will hold Food Smarts classes to educate teens from Ashland/Cherryland about basic nutrition, cooking, meal planning, and consumption of fruits and vegetables.  In connection with Girls, Inc. of Alameda County, teens will then become peer educators and conduct Food Smarts classes with their peers.  A field trip to Dig Deep Farms and Produce, a BBC partner, will educate participating teens about the local food system and how to create fresh food/CSA boxes.  A key BBC partner, the Niroga Institute, is an organization that brings Transformative Life Skills to students, vulnerable youth, cancer survivors, seniors, and people battling addiction.  To target stress reduction and emotional regulation, the Niroga Institute will work with Brighter Beginnings and BBC partners to provide stress management and active living through prenatal yoga, breathing techniques, and meditation for women before, during, and after pregnancy.  The Niroga Institute will then plan and conduct an evaluation of the effects of the program on pregnancy outcomes, including maternal diabetes, weight gain, and baby’s weight.  For more information on the BBC partners involved with the BBC HEAL project, please direct your attention to the following websites:

Brighter Beginnings

Girls, Inc.

Dig Deep Farms and Produce

Niroga Institute


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