Help Build a Community Center for Unhoused Youth
Want to join us in making a difference in the lives of disadvantaged Bay Area youth? Your donation will help make the SEED Center a reality!
We're about to begin construction on the Sustainability Empowerment and Educational Development (SEED) Center — a hybrid studio and living space that will serve residents of Youth Spirit Artworks’ (YSA) tiny house village for unhoused youth. YSA is a local nonprofit that serves unhoused and low-income Bay Area youth. Their tiny home village in South Oakland provides 22 residents aged 18-24 with housing, arts training, and access to essential services. Since 2007, more than 500 YSA program graduates have received a high school diploma, entered college, or entered the workforce.
Keep reading to learn how the SEED Center will help mark the latest chapter in YSA’s mission to serve.
SHAC team photo, fall 2022
But first, who are we?
We are Sustainable Housing at Cal (SHAC), a multidisciplinary group of students at UC Berkeley who share the common goal of creating sustainable solutions to housing issues. Since the fall of 2021, our Solar Decathlon team has partnered with youth, YSA staff, and professional mentors to design the SEED Center and fund its construction.
Rendering of the SEED Center in the existing tiny house village
The SEED Center will serve, first and foremost, as a community space for education and the arts. The 1500 sq ft building will be used as a workshop, art studio, and study area. The center will also include a space for someone to make their home. We intend to house visiting artists and professionals who will run training workshops for the village residents — while living among them! This model of reciprocal community living is central to the values expressed by youth and YSA staff at the onset of the project.
The center will be located adjacent to YSA's existing tiny house village and will anchor a major new expansion of its housing. Led by our partners at the University of San Francisco, the expansion includes around 24 redesigned tiny homes, with the SEED Center located at their nexus. The project will be critical to helping YSA expand its housing stock and bolster its capacity to provide services to marginalized youth.
YSA fine art studio & member meeting
The project’s design was developed in close partnership with YSA staff and youth. Through weekly meetings with village residents and staff, the team identified critical programmatic and design goals and learned more about life in the village. These meetings form the foundation for our design as we aim to center the youth’s lived experiences. The design adheres to a model of cooperative living and promotes education, self-responsibility, and a sense of community — all key values identified by the youth.
Since its inception, creating an ambitious sustainable design has been a top priority for the SEED Center. Our most crucial sustainable endeavor is the integration of passive design elements which can serve occupants — without needing electricity! These include south-facing windows that maximize daylight and natural heat gain in the winter, significantly reducing overall energy use. Meanwhile, strategic roof overhangs block the direct summer sun, providing energy-free cooling from the shade. Smart, passive designs like these reduce environmental impact and minimize operating costs for YSA.
SEED’s solar array will cover electricity needs, further reducing operating costs and making the center resilient to blackouts. Resiliency is crucial to our other sustainable features: water recycling and rainwater harvesting. The center plans to recycle gray water from the shower to save the building over 3,500 gallons of water per year. Furthermore, our highly efficient, low-flow fixtures will save over 4,300 gallons per year.
Because of our strong focus on sustainability, the project will serve as UC Berkeley’s latest entry into the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon — a collegiate competition that challenges student teams to design and build highly efficient buildings powered by renewables. The guiding principles of the Solar Decathlon helped inform the SEED Center’s resilient and self-sufficient design, ensuring it serves residents for decades to come.
SHAC team engaging village residents
WHERE WILL YOUR MONEY GO
The construction phase of our project is approaching soon. Your generous donations will allow us to purchase vital materials such as framing, insulation, and roofing.
Here's what your donations can accomplish!
$10 = 1 sq ft of flooring
$45 = 1 sq ft of countertop
$65 = 1 sq ft of window pane
$150 = bathroom fan
$385 = low-flow toilet
$450 = 1 wood cabinet
$2000 = electric water heater
$3000 = 1000 watts of solar energy per year
$4600 = atmospheric water generator
$23,000 = battery and solar inverter
Donors will also receive the following rewards for their contributions:
Every donation will play a crucial part in making SEED Center a reality!
Donors will be proud to know they made a difference in the lives of disadvantaged Bay Area youth AND contributed to a valuable experience for Berkeley students.
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Youth Spirit Artworks
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.
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