2020 was a year of enormous social, physical, and economic upheaval around the world, throughout the United States, and in our communities. For many, witnessing firsthand the stark societal inequalities in our country was an eye-opening experience; but for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, this was merely a glimpse into everyday life.

At PYATOK, many of us began asking ourselves what our role should be – as designers, architects, and members of the community – to combat systemic inequality. We affirmed that it is within our mission to invest our resources to address inequity affecting the most disenfranchised populations and communities in our hometown of Oakland. Today we announce our commitment to supporting – with monetary donations and other tools at our disposal – Oakland-based organizations that actively engage in countering systemic injustice, racism, and white supremacy.

The donations are made without expectations; we intend to build trust and foster relationships with our community and their organizational efforts. The recipients for our 2020 contributions are:

  • Abundant Beginnings, a collectively-run, black-led community education and empowerment initiative that is re-imagining how communities can grow learners that think critically, live responsibly, and create meaningful change; 
  • Acta Non Verba, an organization founded and led mainly by women of color that creates a safe and creative outdoor space for children, youth, and families in East Oakland, and engages and strengthens young people’s understanding of nutrition, food production, the natural world, and healthy living, and strengthens their ties to the community; 
  • Black Cultural Zone, a collaborative of Black residents, leaders, organizers, and advocates formed to keep culture and place for Black folks in East Oakland; 
  • SFNOMA’s Project Pipeline, a program to educate minority youth about the process and impact of architecture in our communities; 
  • Root & Rebound, an organization dedicated to restoring power and resources to the families and communities most harmed by mass incarceration through legal advocacy, public education, policy reform and litigation, a model rooted in the needs and expertise of people who are directly impacted; 
  • Sogorea Te' Land Trust, an urban Indigenous women-led land trust that facilitates the return of Indigenous land to Indigenous people; 
  • SoOakland, an organization that aims to preserve the culture of Oakland through events and community service while creating safe spaces for the Black and Brown communities.

Founded in the summer of 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, PYATOK’s Community Investment Task Force (CITF) is a voluntary committee involving staff at all levels and operates with full support of our entire office and firm leadership. The mission of the CITF is to direct PYATOK’s platform and resources to take real action to stand in solidarity with Oakland-based organizations that actively work to counter the systemic inequalities that are daily lived experiences for Black, Indigenous, and other POC.

Shortly after its creation, the CITF began a research process to identify organizations for end-of-year contributions. Criteria included mission alignment and level of impact, and the staff was polled on thematic priorities. Shortlisted organizations were presented at an all-staff meeting for discussion and confirmation. The criteria developed include organizational missions that focus on supporting, healing, and building Oakland’s Black, Indigenous, brown, local, queer, trans, youth, and unhoused populations, as these populations remain underserved.

Our 2020 contributions represent only a fraction of the resources needed to overcome systemic inequality, but we are committed to supporting future efforts of these organizations and others in 2021 and beyond.