Clockwise from top: Artist and educator Carlos Aguirre, Arts for Oakland Kids youth artist Alexandra, and dancer Portsha Jefferson are among those being showcased at AOK's "Art-a-Thon" fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 6. Credit: courtesy Arts for Oakland Kids

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This weekend, Arts for Oakland Kids, a nonprofit foundation that has been supporting arts and culture education in local schools for the past 25 years, will host a “Made in Oakland Art-a-Thon” to raise funds for Bay Area organizations providing arts education to students in disadvantaged Oakland public schools.

Like many nonprofits during the pandemic, Arts for Oakland Kids will be holding its fundraiser online. All of the money raised will be distributed through the organization’s mini-grant fund.

Other local organizations interested in receiving a grant still have until Feb. 22 to apply, and grant recipients will be notified in mid-April. 

Past grantees include The Crucible, Chapter 510, Prescott Circus, and Reel Stories. The latter organization will be supporting video production during the virtual art-a-thon.

The event program will showcase original works by five youth artists, all of whom are also past winners of AOK’s youth art contest: Chapter 510 writer and 2019 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Samuel Getachew, Children’s Fairyland composer Nafissatou Ndiaye, 10-year-old Oakland Ballet student Alexandrea, 14-year-old Oakland student Jahziel (who performs under the name YoungStir), and Attitudinal Healing visual artist Nikko Cabrera.

The young artists will be honored by having their works interpreted and performed by seven, well-established and renowned Oakland artists: theater actor Skyler Cooper, arts educator and San Francisco Shakespeare Festival resident artist Regina Morones, acclaimed dancer Portsha Jefferson, ballet dancer Paunika Jones, drummer and dancer Kiaza Malonga, musician Akaina Ghosh, and the multi-talented performer and educator, Carlos Aguirre. Collectively, the group will bring the students’ work to life through dance, poetry, song, rap battles, and more. 

The virtual event will take place on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 7:00 p.m. Ticket prices vary from $5 to $40 and can be purchased through the Arts for Oakland Kids website

Azucena Rasilla is an East Oakland native, a bilingual journalist reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.