“I am passionate about leading an organization that will stand as a beacon of light for single mothers.” – Tracey Weaver, uu Founder & Executive Director
Tracey Weaver has faced more than her share of life’s challenges. Growing up with a mother in prison as a teen and facing domestic violence as a young mother, Weaver was inspired to create a “community learning center,” after losing her corporate job of ten years. “Over a ten year period climbing the corporate ladder at Blue Shield of California, I went through domestic violence, financial hardships, the loss of my brother, divorce and then became a single mom. Towards the end of my corporate career, I appeared to be an individual struggling with performance issues at work, when in actuality, I was a woman going through major life challenges alone, without the resources, support or coping mechanisms to juggle it all.” It was this personal experience that Weaver turned into an opportunity to work with individuals in need.
Weaver began her nonprofit career preparing homeless men and women for work as an Employment Specialist with the Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco. Shortly after, as a Life Skills Instructor with Goodwill Industries of San Francisco and San Mateo Counties, Weaver designed Goodwill’s first “life skills” Program. She could clearly see the need for special training strategies and support to meet the unique needs of individuals with barriers.
In 1998, Weaver launched urban university (uu) to “improve the socioeconomic status of impoverished individuals.” uu’s first collaboration and launching project, was the Legal Employment Action Program (LEAP), an award wining welfare-to-work program by the Bar Association of San Francisco that helped more than 125 women and men transition from welfare to work. urban university was the soft skills and case management component of the initiative.
From 1998 – 2013, under Weaver’s leadership, uu became the soft skills training and wrap-around service provider of choice – for award winning local and regional workforce development initiatives to include the SFWORKS Biotechnology Training Program, PG&E Veterans Employment Assistance Program, the Oakland Green Jobs Corp, Clean Energy and Reentry Programs and the EBMUD WaterWays Training Program. In 2012, uu became the agency lead for the LIFT Program, a workforce development program by the City and County of San Francisco, that prepared 100 single mothers for education and employment in teacher assistant positions.
Today, uu has expanded from a $40,000 budget to $300,000 budget with operations that includes urban furniture & boutique, a social enterprise and urban house, transitional housing. Located in the Grand/Lakeshore Business district of Oakland, urban furniture & boutique is the home of Single Moms at Work, on-the-job training for single mothers transitioning from public assistance. Combining its workforce development training expertise with job creation, over the course of its first eight years, the urban store has helped 25 single parents transition from public assistance and has provided internships to more than 150 Oakland youth. urban house, our transitional housing program, provides housing for 2 years for single parents and their children.
Overall, over the past twenty years, uu has served more than 2,000 low-income individuals by delivering workforce development training programs, operating social enterprises and providing housing.