Emerging Leaders Fighting Poverty

By: Tamara Orozco

Read how one of UWBA’s Emerging Leaders is helping fight Bay Area poverty.

Meet Oscar Alvarez. He is a new member of the Steering Committee of United Way Bay Area’s Emerging Leaders, a group of philanthropic young professionals dedicated to fighting poverty in the Bay Area. Oscar is currently a part of the technology investment banking division of Credit Suisse and will soon be joining The Carlyle Group in the private equity team covering technology companies. We sat down to discuss why he is passionate about UWBA and what he hopes to accomplish with Emerging Leaders.

Every day, United Way helps Bay Area residents make life-changing moments — why is it important for you to support others in making their life-changing moment?

I believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to live the life they envision, but not everyone has the same level of access, education, or mentorship. I have been incredibly blessed to have the support of my family and mentors throughout my life and career. Without it, I would not be able to accomplish my goals. As such, I feel it is a duty of mine to give back and support others on their own paths. In my value system, success is defined by the number of lives one positively impacts.

What issues are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about education and economic empowerment. As an Emerging Leader and resident of the Bay Area, I am focusing on tackling the homelessness crisis in our community.

Throughout my formative years, I saw how psychosocial factors and socioeconomic inequalities could lead to housing crises with dire consequences for both individuals and communities. Before I moved to San Francisco, I imagined it to be an idyllic city where technology empowered everyone—the streets would be shinier, the residents would be thriving, and the cars would be flying [laughs]. But as I drove around the city for the first time, the levels of homelessness and social abandonment showed a crueler reality. I was shocked by the scope of the Bay Area’s humanitarian crisis.

What do you hope to accomplish with the Emerging Leaders?

I hope that together we can correctly identify and constructively tackle the key issues confronting us. I would like to see us utilizing these insights to facilitate communication between our communities and legislators. Understanding that issues and goals of this scale cannot be resolved in weeks or months, I aim to engage with the Emerging Leaders for a multi-year term in order to carry out the real-life implementation of our shared planning.

Would you recommend your friends and family support UWBA? Why?

Absolutely. Empowering youth, providing for basic needs, and strengthening our community is a collective effort. UWBA’s programmatic actions and policy advocacy create widespread value in our cities. Connecting those in need with those who deliver fosters meaningful relationships to break the cycle of poverty in the Bay Area. It takes everyone. And United Way Bay Area helps bring us together.

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