A joint initiative between the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United)

The Restore Oakland building is a community advocacy and job training center that mobilizes Bay Area community members to transform our economic and justice systems to make safe and secure futures possible for themselves and for their families. Restore Oakland is a revolutionary, first-of-its kind project that brings grassroots organizations together to magnify our collective impact.

In our center, we house the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Causa Justa::Just Cause, and the Restaurant Opportunities Center United. Each partner brings their unique perspective, historical knowledge, and grassroots people power to address decades of state sanctioned violence and systemic oppression. Restore Oakland Inc. serves as the connective tissue between the Fruitvale neighborhood and organizational partners in our building. As the front-facing organization of the building, we support local residents and visitors in accessing services, programs, and community spaces that all of our organizations offer.

Learn about our Community Spaces

As both a physical space and a program, the Restore Oakland creates a new vision for community safety by providing restorative justice conferences and promoting alternatives to punitive and carceral systems. In addition our unique programming materially shifts resources away from the punishment economy and toward programs that promote economic opportunity. These resources must be reinvested in the communities most impacted by mass incarceration so that we can begin healing decades of racial, state-sanctioned violence.

Restore Oakland was meaningfully built to address both sides – grassroots campaigns to move money away from the prison industrial complex, towards community managed funds that will create a fair, inclusive, and economically vibrant Oakland economy.

This project was a huge lift from the pre-construction community listening sessions to the final result. We launched the Restore Oakland project in 2016 with Causa Justa Just Cause, Restaurant Opportunities Centers

United, and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Later in 2017, our unique 501c3 Restore Oakland Inc. (ROI), born from the capital campaign, to advance community safety and grassroots economic empowerment. With deep collaboration with the community, we purchased the Ritmo Latino building in the heart of the Fruitvale district. In 2018 we began construction with Co-founder of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces, Deanna Van Buren.

By 2019, the Restore Oakland project finished the final stages of construction and held our grand opening that summer. Due to the pandemic, we were only able to be open for 8 months before closing our doors to the public. Our model is revolutionary and we owe it all to our community for making it a reality. We are excited to share our project with the world in hopes that we can bring about transformational change and move closer to true liberation.


Our Founding Partners

Photo by Brooke Anderson⎪@movementphotographer

Based in Oakland, California, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights (EBC) advances racial and economic justice to ensure dignity and opportunity for low-income people and people of color. EBC is named after Ella Baker (1903-1986), a largely behind-the-scenes organizer and architect of the civil rights movement, who believed in the power of everyday people to change their lives.

Founded in 1996 by Van Jones and Diana Frappier, EBC’s major achievements include securing the termination of a San Francisco police officer responsible for the killing of Aaron Williams; leading the fight to close five of eight abusive youth prisons in California; building California’s first statewide network for families of incarcerated youth to advocate for change; partnering with the California Teachers Association to defeat Proposition 6, a 2008 ballot initiative that would have increased penalties on “gang-related” felonies and drug crimes, specifically targeting youth, low-income families, and undocumented immigrants; and jump-starting the green collar jobs movement and passing the federal Green Jobs Act.

Today, EBC is bringing all of our past experience and success to bear on one of the most urgent issues of our time: mass incarceration. EBC’s push for “Truth and Reinvestment” highlights the need to acknowledge our nation’s long history of racial discrimination and its present day manifestations in the criminal justice system by reinvesting resources from criminal justice reform into the low-income communities of color that have been hardest hit by mass incarceration. While many criminal justice reform efforts are aimed at cutting prison spending simply as a public cost savings, EBC contends that it is also a necessary instrument for advancing racial and economic justice. Beyond ending mass incarceration, EBC envisions actively rebuilding and reinvesting in the communities most damaged by the legacy of racism, classism, and gender-based violence enshrined in our nation’s criminal justice policies.

Restaurant Opportunities Centers was originally founded in 2002 to provide support to restaurant workers who survived the 9/11 attacks and were displaced as a result of this unprecedented tragedy. In 2008, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) was launched as a national network mobilizing workers, employers, and consumers to improve wages and working conditions for the country’s 11 million restaurant workers that represent the largest and lowest-paid workforce in the United States.

Since its founding, ROC United has won more than a dozen workplace justice campaigns, winning more than $10 million in misappropriated tips and wages and discrimination payments for low-wage workers, and significant policy changes in high-profile restaurant companies covering thousands of workers. ROC United has played an instrumental role in winning several statewide minimum wage increases for tipped workers, and other policy campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels. ROC United also partners with almost 200 responsible restaurant owners to promote the ‘high road’ to profitability, has trained more than 5,000 restaurant workers to advance to livable-wage jobs within the industry, and has published over 30 ground-breaking reports and a nationally bestselling book on the restaurant industry.

To expand economic mobility and career advancement opportunities for young people in the restaurant industry, ROC United opened COLORS Restaurants in New York and Detroit, in which it offers the COLORS Hospitality Opportunities for Workers (CHOW) Institute, a unique workforce-development program that has provided thousands of young people with training and placement services to advance to livable wage fine-dining restaurant jobs. ROC United now offers CHOW training in 12 states nationwide, partnering with 175 key restaurant employers across the country – ranging from celebrity chefs to small restaurateurs – who have provided input on our curriculum, hired our graduates, and served as guest lecturers in the program.