Apply to join Oakland Voices’ Community Journalism Program

Aspiring writers, photographers, and storytellers from the Town encouraged

The Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education is now accepting applications for our next cohort of Oakland Voices, a six-month program designed to empower Oakland residents to tell stories about their communities.

The Town’s diverse communities and voices too often lack access to media platforms and often receive negative and stigmatizing news coverage. Oakland Voices emerged to address this issue, building on the long-term commitment of the Maynard Institute’s mission to diversify news media and change the culture of newsrooms.

Benefits and requirements of Oakland Voices

Residents receive training in digital storytelling, interviewing, newswriting, and journalism ethics. Correspondents complete assignments, like interviews and feature stories, and receive a $1,000 stipend upon completion of the program.

  • Oakland Voices correspondents will be expected to attend virtual meetings throughout the six-month program, on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month.
  • Attend an in-person orientation at the beginning of the academy, as part of one of three in-person training sessions in May, August, and October.
  • Complete six assignments and other activities and exercises. 

Oakland Voices gave me an expansive opportunity to really hone in my skill set, with not just writing, but learning about community and how to build community.

Brandy Collins, Oakland Voices alumna

This year’s Oakland Voices cohort will also explore themes of anti-racism and belonging in the news, but from the perspective of community members learning and rethinking journalism practices. Correspondents will collaborate with each other and the academy Director to pitch and complete stories in areas of health, arts, culture, and community safety.

How Oakland Voices works

The 2023 academy will be hybrid, combining virtual and in-person sessions. We meet bi-weekly, on Thursday evenings, alternating between monthly training sessions and newsroom meetings, and monthly guest speakers. Past speakers have included: Kristin J. Bender, KTVU; Niema Jordan, Radical Media; Pendarvis Harshaw, KQED; George Kelly, Bay Area News Group; Azucena Rasilla, The Oaklandside; Spencer Whitney, KTVU; Jane Tyska, Oakland Tribune; and Momo Chang, now Oakland Voices‘ co-director working with program alumni. 

The program is supported by the Maynard Institute and grants from the California Endowment and Akonadi Foundation.

Correspondents complete journalism assignments, including interviews, photography, and news and feature stories. Participants who complete the program can continue to be compensated by contributing stories to our website as part of the Alumni program. Our graduates have published work in other local and international publications.

Oakland Voices 2019 Cohort
2019 Oakland Voices cohort. From right, Rasheed Shabazz, coordinator; correspondents Amelah El-Amin, Yadira Cervantes, Dishonne Muhammad; guest speaker Joe Lambert, Story Center; correspondents Brandy Collins, Ayodele Nzinga, and Iris M. Crawford.

Voices alumni doing big things

Alumna Brandy Collins said the program helped her build a community while improving her writing, research, and networking skills. “Oakland Voices gave me an expansive opportunity to really hone in my skill set, with not just writing, but learning about community and how to build community,” Collins said. Since graduating from Oakland Voices’ program, she has written for Bay City News and a recent tribute to Oakland Hip Hop legend Shock G. of Digital Underground in The Oaklandside.

The community and the connections that OV brings to the cohort is really helpful if you use it as best as you can

Iris M. Crawford, Oakland Voices alumna

Iris M. Crawford has published stories in The Oaklandside, and joined a group of Voices alumni to collaborate on a video series about the 2020 elections. “The community and the connections that OV brings to the cohort is really helpful–if you use it as best as you can,” Crawford said. She is currently the Senior Climate Editor at NPQ.

2019 alumna Ayodele Nzinga published a story about a West Oakland mural dedicated to the Black Panther Party in the Guardian. She is now Oakland’s inaugural Poet Laureate. Another Oakland Voices alumnus, Ryan Barba, returned to school after completing his GED. He completed Oakland Voices and later joined Laney College’s journalism program. He was previously the editor-in-chief of the Peralta Citizen. Barba now attends UC Berkeley.


  • Any Oakland resident who is at least 18 years old or at least a high school senior can apply. Unhoused and displaced residents encouraged to apply.
  • Applicants are required to have access to a stable internet connection via computer or mobile device to participate in virtual meetings.
  • Unhoused residents, low-income, and communities of color encouraged to apply.

Learn more about eligibility here. The last day to apply is Sunday, April 16. The application is here.

Note: This post was updated to reflect that Oakland Voices extended the due data from April 2 to April 16.

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