SmartRecruiters Blog

Employment, Making Waves & Richmond, California

At SmartRecruiters giving labor and ending unemployment are part of our mission. In Richmond, CA, Making Waves and their creative arts program, RAW Talent, are working to beat the odds in a community where you’re more likely to be involved in a crime than searching for a job.

Richmond, California is not the Bay Area people think of when they imagine Palo Alto, San Francisco or Berkeley. In Richmond, the crime index is more than twice the United States average. The unemployment rate is high at 13.8%. Gabriela Ruiz de Mejia, Lead College Advisor at Making Waves says, “It’s not the kind of place people want to invest in.” However, the Making Waves Education Program and RAW Talent are making heavy investments in the education and training of youth.

Making Waves Education and RAW Talent are a safe haven for the youth of Richmond.  At Making Waves, education is key. Their programs provide academic assistance, after-school programs, creative arts, and job development among many other things away from the distractions of the city. The idea is to support Wave Makers as holistically as possible, not only to get them to college, but also see them through it and help them get internships or jobs after.

Donte Clark, a former Wave Maker and the first RAW Talent student is now a Program Director at RAW Talent. Molly Raynor, RAW Talent’s founder and coordinator hired Donte soon after he graduate from high school in 2008, each year RAW Talent and Making Waves have been able to create jobs for the alumni within the program. Raynor says, “If I could, I would hire five more former students each year. We just don’t have the money.”

Making Waves and RAW Talent are setting an example. Investing in education and supporting students’ passions are the catalysts to positive change in a community that Donte Clark describes as, “the bottom of the bottom.”

At Making Waves and RAW Talent, Richmond youth are given the tools they need to take ownership of their futures. They have proven that all the kids need is support to exceed. 95% of all Wave Makers are the first in their families to go to college. According to Gabriela Ruiz de Mejia, upon graduation about 50% return to Making Waves and RAW Talent to support the program and future students. Each day they show there is more to Richmond than meets the eye.

RAW Talent is currently fundraising to finance, “Te’s Harmony” and “Romeo is Bleeding.” The documentary, “Romeo is Bleeding,” details the day-to-day of courageous youth in Richmond as they produce the play, “Te’s Harmony,” a re-write of Romeo and Juliet set in Richmond. The project aims to shed light on the culture of the city and strives to change the common dialogue of violence to peace and opportunity.

To learn more about RAW Talent Email: [email protected] Click here to learn how to help fundraise for “Romeo is Bleeding. They need $3,000 more, and have four days left!


Imagine a world where people who want to work, can work.
Imagine a world where businesses that need talent, get talent.
Imagine a world where hiring is easy.


Lexie Forman-Ortiz

Lexie Forman-Ortiz is the Community Manager at SmartRecruiters.