About Us

Headstart children playing

The Unity Council is a nonprofit organization devoted to improving the quality of life, economic and educational opportunity, and health and safety of low-income communities.

Located in the Fruitvale district of Oakland, over the past 50 years The Unity Council has grown into a $19 million community development organization that delivers nine comprehensive lines of programming, including social services and employment training as well as facilitating the development and support of local businesses, low-income housing, and neighborhood improvement activities. Our work expands beyond the Fruitvale district, and now reaches across Oakland and into Concord. See the map of our program locations: Where We Work.

We reach approximately 8,000 clients annually, and serve over 1,000 families every single day. We offer programs in five languages and represent the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of our communities through our staff, volunteers, and program designs.

The Unity Council is the umbrella organization of several related subsidiaries: Peralta Service Corporation, a social enterprise and job-training program; Fruitvale Development Corporation, for real estate development and management; and Casitas de Hayward, for the management of our three low-income senior HUD properties.

History

FINAL Unity Council HistoryThe Unity Council was established in 1964, during the civil rights movement, by a group of community members who wanted to ensure the political representation of the Latino community. Officially named The Spanish-Speaking Unity Council of Alameda County, our geographically based community development strategy now focuses on building an economically vibrant, physically attractive, and a livable neighborhood regardless of ethnic affiliation or national origin.

Arabella Martinez became our first Executive Director in 1967. Our first programs focused on the immediate needs of our neighborhood: child care and job training. We started operating Head Start sites and created a job training program, Peralta Service Corporation, in the early 1970s, two programs that still exist today. The Unity Council identified the need to invest in long-term neighborhood assets and began purchasing and renovating properties and public spaces to create more livable and affordable neighborhoods. Through the 1980s and 1990s we aquired several properties in the Fruitvale neighborhood, three of which are low-income Senior housing properties today.

In 2004 we celebrated the grand opening of the landmark transit-oriented development at the Fruitvale BART station, Fruitvale Village. Fruitvale Village was the culmination of years of partnership and coordination between hundreds of agencies and governments. Fruitvale Village remains a vibrant public space in which to live and shop and connects our neighborhood with critical services and access to the rest of the Bay Area.

In 2017 we expect to break ground on Fruitvale Village Phase II, an expansion of the existing Fruitvale Village. Phase II will bring a larger space for a La Clinica de la Raza health center and 275 units of mixed-income housing.