The Bay Area GIVE Team Offers High-Risk Youth a Clean Slate

By: eBay Inc. Staff

The program serves high-risk and former gang members, whose tattoos have become a barrier to education or employment.

Last fall, the Bay Area GIVE Team made 45 grants to a variety of nonprofits recommended by employees. The team also worked together to address the increasing gang problem in San Jose by finding gang prevention programs to support. 

After conducting significant research, they approved a $10,000 grant to the City of San Jose’s Clean Slate Tattoo Removal Program.

The Clean Slate Tattoo Removal Program is a youth intervention program that serves high-risk and former gang members, ages 14-25, whose tattoos have become a barrier to education and/or employment. The tattoo-removal service is free to city residents, provided they meet certain criteria, including the completion of 30 hours of community service, attendance at weekly life-skills group workshops and current employment or enrollment in a school or vocational/job-readiness training program.  

The City of San Jose partners with the Santa Clara County Health and Hospital Systems and a dedicated team of volunteer doctors, nurses and medical clerks to operate the tattoo- removal clinic. The tattoos can take up to two years to be fully removed.

This program offers youth a second chance. Past participants have described the service as giving them “a new start.”  By removing tattooed gang symbols, participants enjoy increased educational and employment opportunities and have the ability to become more productive citizens.  In the last four years, the program has helped more than 300 participants remove tattoos, resulting in more than 7,800 hours of community service.  The program has received accolades from San Jose City Councilmember Sam Liccardo (pictured above), who recently attended a Clean Slate graduation ceremony.
The GIVE Team grant helped fund a graduation ceremony for 2011-2012 participants, program supplies, and marketing and outreach efforts. 

GIVE Team member Sharron Daniel, an accountant analyst at eBay and long-time Bay Area GIVE Team member, attended the graduation ceremony. Moved by what she heard from graduates, she reported back to her GIVE Team colleagues: “Our grant supported marketing materials including a sign outside a restaurant that one of the kids saw and it changed his life. He wrote down the number for Clean Slate that night and made the call. Tonight he graduated.  I heard of hopes and dreams tonight.  One kid is going to UCLA.  Another got into a culinary school and someday plans to open his own restaurant.  These kids work hard for this, it’s not just handed to them.  We are the first tech company to invest in the program and they were unbelievably grateful.”

The Bay Area GIVE Team will consider making an additional grant to Clean State in 2012, with the goal of making a positive impact on at-risk youth in the San Jose community.