Elev8 Oakland: Luis, an Elev8 Graduate, Finds His Pathway to a Successful Future


Luis Reyes was only 10 years old when he came with his father from El Salvador to make a new life in Oakland; it was a difficult transition.


"I was having a hard time with my family. My father had no time for me and my mom was in El Salvador. I spent most of my time with my friends in a gang," he says. "There were rival gangs in the neighborhood. It was hard for me to walk the streets."


Academics were not a priority for Luis as he moved through middle school. But in the 8th grade, Elev8 began operating at his East Oakland school, Coliseum College Preparation Academy. Luis was particularly interested in one Elev8 offering - a History of Gangs program - and he worked hard to bring his grades up to be eligible to take part after school. 

Elev8 Chicago: How Elev8 sparked a neighborhood school-health revolution


Even if you build it, they still may not come. That’s the hard truth behind the happy photos of ribbon-cutting ceremonies at school-based health centers. If students don’t come in, the service can’t be sustained. That’s exactly what happened at Englewood’s Lindblom High School. After three years of operation, Lindblom’s center closed for lack of use.

But at Perspectives-Calumet Middle Academy in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, the health center, which was built through a partnership with Elev8 Chicago, is thriving. Since May 2008, the health center has served 19,845 students from Perspectives and surrounding elementary schools.

Access to health care at school significantly increases the likelihood that children in poor communities will have medical and dental checkups during the school year and significantly decreases emergency department use by their families. Learn More